The bench: a functional object that rarely features at the forefront of our minds, even when we are sitting on one in a garden. And yet (as this book will reveal) benches have surprising significance, regarding the specific places where they operate, and in a more general sense. The bench is more than a convenient sitting point. It is the domain where aesthetics, garden history, architecture, spatiality and subjectivity interfere. The bench acts as a powerful visual machine and regulates the reception of surrounding landscapes to its visitors. By transmitting verbal messages (through inscriptions), citing other benches and being part of a complex walk circuit, by providing rest and inviting its users to discover new aspects of the site, the bench is a highly polysemic element of a garden, which orients and disorients the visitor simultaneously.