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HORTUS  148  (Winter 2023)
HORTUS 148 (Winter 2023)

Price (not including postage) 10.50

Extracts From The Current Issue
From the Editor’s Introduction to HORTUS 148, Winter 2023

Regardless of parentage, ownership and advertisers, I consider all garden magazines, and their readers, as part of the same united family. It’s sad therefore when one of our clan, however distantly related (if at all) reaches the end of the line. On 14 October this year, after one hundred and thirty-nine years, it was reported that the weekly Amateur Gardening had hit the buffers…
Founded in 1884 by Shirley Hibberd (1825–90), one of the Victorian period’s most influential garden writers, AG was selling a hundred thousand copies a week just prior to the First World War. Sales understandably dipped for a few years thereafter, but in the 1950s that figure rose to some 300,000 copies weekly. The editor then was Arthur Hellyer (1902–1993) who, much to my delight, contributed articles to the first four issues of HORTUS. Anthony Huxley was another noted AG editor (from 1967 to 1971) who wrote about the botanist vs. the gardener in HORTUS 1, finding time also to review Christopher Brickell and Fay Sharman’s The Vanishing Garden for the same issue. I recall a memorable few hours spent with Huxley in his surprisingly ‘jungly’ suburban garden in south-west London.

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From ‘Tradescant’s Diary’
by Hugh Johnson

29 August: 2023: I’m wondering whether to get the locals round to have a grand tomato harvest and pick all four in one day. Mauve bonsai tomato-growing is not ideal, but this year it just happened. I forgot to pot them on from a four-inch pot; they looked sweet on the bench next to a pansy and the heliotrope I keep for an intoxicating sniff now and then. Now those little red globes are beckoning. Is home-grown produce really the best?
Tomatoes are a major theme in July, and not just a domestic one. They are tumbling in from all sides; the Isle of Wight conspicuously in the lead, in a bewildering mix of changes and colours.

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‘Our Garden Birds: The Goldcrest’
by Adam Ford
Even tinier than the Jenny wren, the goldcrest (with its cousin the firecrest – Regulus ignicapillus) is Europe’s smallest bird, only three and a half inches long. They are so small that four adults together weigh only an ounce. Gilbert White, observing this diminutive bird which he refers to as ‘the feeble little golden-crowned wren, that shadow of a bird’, marvelled at its ability to survive cold weather in the winter for it ‘braves our severest frosts without availing himself of houses or villages, to which most of our winter birds crowd in distressful seasons’.

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A Day in My Garden in Winter
A miscellany of short evocative articles about a typical winter’s day in their gardens by Sukie Amory, Kathryn Bradley-Hole, Kirsty Fergusson, Lorraine Harrison, Christopher Hutt, Rosemary Lindsay, Michael Marriott, Richard Moore, Jane Powers and Thomas Rutter.

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From ‘No More Amelanchiers, Please’
by Matt Collins
Within the boundless subject of horticulture, the one question I get asked most frequently is which tree best serves a small garden. Which tree delivers maximum seasonal impact while adhering to the spatial constraints of a terraced residential garden? Unlike most FAQs, I never tire of the query. There’s a great pleasure in introducing new (and captive) ears to a wonderful world of potential beauty they might never have previously considered – previous to the daunting prospect, that is, of fitting out the garden of a newly acquired home. More than this, I have become convinced, over time, that there is – or there has to be – a suitable rival to the hallowed amelanchier, whose blossom-laden, autumn-glowing, multi-stem limbs must by now grace 90 per cent of all compact, ‘stylish’ London gardens.

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From ‘Beyond the Box Moth’
by Tony Hufton
Three or four times a year an urgent warning is broadcast to the neighbourhood: box moths have been sighted on the wing! It is time to spray again! Then the street WhatsApp group comes alive with advice on where to source the best toxins and people generously offer to share their precious supplies. No one needs to be reminded of the consequences of failing to heed the alarm, there is apocalyptical evidence in front gardens along all our local streets: box balls reduced to brown carcasses; dead hedges where fragments of chewed leaves spin from filthy threads; expensive cones and corkscrews standing naked above stinking middens of frass. All the ravages of the box moth caterpillar.

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From ‘Celebrating the Ruins: Shape and Space in the Winter Garden’
by Rod Madocks

Greeny wash of December light, a spectral morning, the skewed humps of yew are draped with the immaculate fur of the frost. They sit in their space, they seem to know something but will not tell. The rearing plumes of the Arizona cypresses, pointing to the voids that form both above and below them. The garden shapes are messages chalked on winter’s dark. They are calling to all the images that are imprisoned within me.

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From ‘Celestial Repose or Hard Labour?
A Gardener’s Leap of Faith in the Dordogne’
by Adam Heppinstall
A young Christian woman living in Aquitaine refused to make pagan sacrifices for the Romans despite being tortured to death and for her pains was later worshipped as Saint Faith, or Sainte Foy as she is known in France. Her remains rest on the St James pilgrim- age route to Compostela, at Conques, where there is a huge abbey devoted to her name and memory. There was also a very wealthy related priory in Horsham St Faith in Norfolk worth £162 per year in annual income at dissolution in 1536. It ended up in the hands of Sir Richard Southwell, witness at the trial of Sir Thomas More who said he had not ‘heard the details’ of the alleged denial of royal supremacy conversation in the Tower of London, between the accused and Sir Richard Rich. Southwell’s vague recollections did More no good, as history relates. He went the way of Saint Faith, albeit more mercifully dispatched.

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From ‘Making Sense of a Garden. Part 4: Taste’
by Peter Dale
I‘O Taste and See’, says the psalmist, as if there were a natural analogue between the two senses. And so there is . . . sometimes. The colour lemon – the word indeed – serves also to identify its taste. Probably the same is true of orange. And plum, lime and tomato. And then when something is said to be nutty, something with the colour of hazel, its hue and taste are evoked simultaneously. You could probably have said the same of strawberry until recently, though your senses are as likely now to be confused by white berries as gratified by pink flavours.

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From ‘Green Clothes the Earth in Tranquillity’:
Frank Walter exhibition at the Garden Museum
by Barbara Paca

Studies as an art historian and landscape architect prepared me for my work on artist, planter and philosopher Frank Walter, and now I have the pleasure of serving as the Garden Museum’s guest curator for a five-month exhibition in his honour, presenting the artist’s work for the first time at a London venue. With a list of favourite species in hand, the Garden Museum’s head gardener Matt Collins has been experimenting with West Indian plants – establishing an Antiguan garden to help frame the context for the show.

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From ‘From the (New) Home Patch’
by Tom Petherick
The year has been a challenging one for gardeners, as another cold May gave way to a boiling June followed by a washout of summer. Preceding that came a horrible March and April during which time it never stopped raining. The curious thing about May was that in Devon there were bright, dry days but no frost at night, unlike 2021 when late-May frosts hammered blossom everywhere. That changed in 2022 when May was gorgeous and then morphed into a choking drought. As usual there is no significant pattern to our ever changing seasons. .

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From ‘Digging with the Duchess: Sculpture Governance’
by Sam Llewellyn
Bleak midwinter again. Crunch of frost underfoot in the morning, and a frozen ermine of hoarfrost on the dried-blood-colour branches of the Sakhalin willow. The Prunus subhirtella is looking strong and cheerful as I push the barrow towards the log shed. The sky is blue, and a wisp of cherrywood smoke seeps out of the chimney and pivots away down the tiny breeze. God, in short, is in his heaven, and all’s right with the world – at least until the thaw, at which point the frozen cells will weep their slime all over the place.
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Book Review
Medlars: Growing and Cooking
by Jane Steward
reviewed by John Akeroyd

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HORTUS 149, Spring 2024
will be published in March

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