"How does a landscape become "historic"? How historical are "historic" landscapes? Taking the eighteenth-century English landscape garden as a case study, this paper considers the metamorphosis of landscape into "historic" landscape. It argues that eighteenth-century representations of the landscape garden are important for our understanding of the ways in which surviving landscapes are interpreted and re-used. It the landscape garden remains a medium through which meaning is communicated, it remains also for the twentieth century a medium of another kind, an image of the mid-point between political and cultural extremes. Many of the defences now thrown up against the re-use of landscape gardens (as golf courses, theme parks, hotel grounds &c) depend upon this older construction of the landscape's value, a construction which may no longer be appropriate. The paper considers contemporary magazines and journals, and argues that, in the media, the cultural polemic inherent in the term "historic landscape" is represented as normative: a rhetoric is employed which claims the "historic" as, paradoxically, beyond the need for historical analysis, as something all people of taste should recognise and value without question. Thus, in this paper, "historic" refers to a modern term used to signify cultural value, but also, it is argued, to an eighteenth-century construct which facilitates this usage not least by creating a widely accepted but partisan account of garden history. In the late-twentieth century the eighteenth-century landscape garden continues to be represented as a high-point of English cultural achievement. These gardens, modern writers argue, are not only quintessentially English, but they are a form of perfection, a happy medium betweep extremes; as a consequence, they should not be destroyed or defaced. Such an interpretation of the garden is not new, nor is it free from political and cultural freight: many of the modern arguments used to justify and defend the landscape garden can be found in the polemics of the eighteenth century. The highly partisan writing of garden history in the eighteenth century has now been largely accepted as the objective relating of facts, with the result that the cultural and political values such histories institutionalise are themselves both accepted and repeated. Just as eighteenth-century garden writers attempted to objectify a polemical version of political and cultural history, so modern writersdrawing on those same values-attempt to objectify a version of history which calls itself the "historic". In each case, an appeal is made to history as an objective guarantor of value. This paper addresses the question of why a version of history and of aesthetics constructed in the eighteenth century continues to be politically useful in the twentieth. At issue is the question of who should have control over the meaning of landscape, and of the kinds of arguments which can, or should, be utilised in defence of the landscape garden in the twentieth century."