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HORTUS  139  (Autumn 2021)
HORTUS 139 (Autumn 2021)

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Extracts From The Current Issue
From the editor's introduction to HORTUS 139, Autumn 2021
Several visitors to our garden at Bryan's Ground in north-west Herefordshire over a twenty-five year period referred to it as 'E. M. Forster Arts & Crafts'. Built in 1911-13, it indeed had all the characteristics which that implies. Upland, on the other hand, our new home in Carmarthenshire, is earlier, dating in part from the mid-sixteenth century and given a Georgian makeover in the early 1800s - 'Jane Austen Arcadia'. Separated by seventy-five miles and several hundred years you could say we've transplanted ourselves from Howard's End to Mansfield Park.


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From 'Tradescan't Diary' by Hugh Johnson
11 May 2021: It's too soon to say whether Peak Wisteria 2021 will rival or even surpass the rainbow season of 2020. The longest array of tassels (in Gordon Place, off Holland Street, W8) embraces twenty houses. The tallest organised plant (perfectly trimmed, bonsai-style) is in Canning Place, off Gloucester Road. But these are only the champions on my daily walks. Perhaps others pass even more dripping clouds of carnation-scented purple. Carnations and . . . ? Cloves, perhaps. Like all great perfumes it's impossible to pin down. On the corner of Pembroke Square the smell switches suddenly from wisteria to Viburnum carlesii, sweeter, also tinted with cloves. Don't let a face-mask get in the way.





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From 'Our Garden Birds: The Rook' by Adam Ford
The old adage that 'If you see a lot of crows together, they are rooks; and if you observe a rook on its own, it is a crow' still has value - most of the time. A single rook may sometimes test the adage, the exception proving the rule, as one bird frequently does, strutting arrogantly with a waddling gait about our lawn in winter, investigating the apples put out for the blackbirds. And many crows gather together to explore our local seaside beach, joining the gulls hawking for scraps of fish and chips. But in general crows are solitary birds nesting alone, while rooks congregate in flocks, nesting in large rookeries. rating notes evolved to pierce the wild woodland canopy, proclaiming territorial breeding rights.




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From 'Rainbow' by Alison Sparshatt
Under bruised purple skies the rain has stopped. The relentless roar of pounding water has been switched off. The silence is deafening. Sounds return - water rushing through the ditches, dripping from the bare branches, a few tentative birdcalls in the hedgerows. Colour returns - the grey-out of the downpour tinted at first with bracken, gold and copper, then the fresh greens of ferns and grasses. Nothing moves. Beside the lane to the nursery at the top of a telegraph pole there is a large squat brown totemic shuttlecock.







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From 'From the Wilds of Asia to a London Garden' by Rosemary Lindsay
Far from the rocky slopes of Asia several tulip species flourish here, undeterred by the London clay. I first planted bulbs of Tulipa turkestanica, which flowers in late winter for several weeks, produces seedheads as attractive as the primrose-yellow flowers with their bright yellow centres, and self-seeds widely. It was first described by Eduard August von Regel in 1875 as a variety of T. sylvestris. Von Regel, a German horticulturist and botanist, ended his career as director of the Imperial Botanical Garden in St Petersburg.






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From ' Our Garden Colours: Red' by Peter Dale
Think of red, and what plant comes to mind? A dahlia? A hot-lipped salvia? Or will you settle for a rose? It is curious how - roses apart - there are relatively so few red blooms. And is that why, when they do occur, we're inclined to bulk them up, volume compensating for paucity: prairies of heleniums perhaps, plazas of busy lizzies, semi-corporate events of cosmos, sprawled divans of nasturtiums? Those epitomous fields after fields of red tulips on a Dutch polder? We make a 'statement' of gladioli, where even one alone would have made its mark. (And isn't it at least a little strange how we seem to be compelled to pluralise even the word gladiolus into gladioli, the Latin plural that everyone knows?) Why do we almost absolutely subsume those single flowers into a massed effect . . . except for roses?






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From 'Tippitiwitchet Cottage: A West Norfolk Garden, 1995-2020, From Memory. In memoriam Susan Elizabeth (nee Aspin) Nelson, 1951-2020' by E. Charles Nelson
The roses had started blooming. 'Souvenir de St Anne's' was covered with its shell-pink flowers when I closed the door and left for the final time. 'Bengal Crimson', offspring of the bush I had known since the early 1980s at Old Conna outside Bray, County Wicklow, and 'Cecile Brunner', one of Graham Stuart Thomas's favourites that Sue had planted, were also in bloom. Mind you, 'Bengal Crimson' is hardly ever not in flower. 'Ce?cile Bru?nner', the climbing cultivar, had obscured the front of the late-1980s, two-storey, red-brick house - a very ordinary house like thousands in suburbs throughout the land - that had been our home for a quarter of a century. Sue had passed away in February 2020, and the house was too large for one person, so I was uprooting, leaving the west Norfolk village of Outwell, and transplanting Tippitiwitchet Cottage to south Lincolnshire, about ten miles, as the crow flies, to the north-west and deeper into the fens.







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From 'Norman Conquest: The Neo-Futurist Garden of Étretat' by Angelica Gray
Call me old-fashioned, but I love a bit of topiary. Clipping 'perennial greenes', as John Evelyn called them, has allowed people to scribe the landscape for centuries, making a statement about themselves, their hopes and ideas - projecting their fantasies in vegetal tattoos. I have been thrilled by Italian Renaissance gardens, by the bubbling cauldron of bobbly buxus at Marqueyssac and the creeping, vascular parterre of Tom Stuart-Smith. I have clipped away at wedding-cake layered yews, trained prickly pyracanthas, watched anxiously over box and yew cuttings as my babies developed into handsome adults and battled blight and the new enemy, box moths. So, I immodestly imagined I could not be surprised by something new in the world of topiary - but I was wrong. There is a garden on the Normandy coast, between Dieppe and Le Havre, which has been grabbing the front pages of garden magazines - Le Jardin d'Étretat, a clifftop marvel designed on Neo-Futurist principles by London-based Russian, Alexandre Grivko, and his studio, Il Nature.




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From 'Sabio in the Time of Covid' by Margy Fenwick
We began our first lockdown at home in Ibiza in February 2020. A year later, Spain is once again in lockdown: airports are closed and movement confined to home. The 'we' are me, two dogs, four farm cats and two French donkeys. The menagerie was further added to this Christmas when I discovered two live white mice left as bait in snake boxes. The mice have been relocated to the warmer climes of the washroom in an elegant hamster cage, and the snakes are asleep in the terrace walls until the sun wakes them in spring. Snakes are a more recent arrival on the island, having been brought in as eggs nested in the roots of imported olive trees.




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From 'Nine Months at Madoo' by Alejandro Saralegui

On 26 March 2020 I should have been touring the Vatican museums, part of a nine-day trip to see the gardens of Rome and Lazio. Instead, my partner Kendell and I moved to the headquarters of the trip's sponsor, the Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack, Long Island, New York, after quickly renting out our nearby house in the early days of the pandemic. Kendell had been furloughed from his job, and it was uncertain whether public gardens such as Madoo, where I have been director for eleven years, would be deemed non-essential, not to mention where our next donation might come from. At the very least, I thought, I could keep the two-acre garden going myself if I worked on it a few hours every day. And so we packed our bags for an unplanned adventure.







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From 'An Englishwoman's Garden: The Books and Gardens of Alvilde Lees-Milne' by Dale Headington
Anyone who has read the incomparable diaries of James Lees-Milne will be familiar with his formidable wife, Alvilde. I have to declare an interest as I am devoted to the diaries and read at least one entry before I go to sleep at night, regardless of what else I am reading at the time, a habit it has become hard to break. Whatever you think of Alvilde, she certainly comes across as a strong minded woman - she has been variously described by others as tough, terrifying, rude and frightening - but she certainly had a flair for gardening and, in her later years, a remarkable career as a garden writer.






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From 'A Life in Plants: T. H. Everett (1903-86)' by Marta McDowell
One of my regrets is that I arrived at the New York Botanical Garden at least ten years too late to encounter T. H. Everett. In the pantheon of individuals that shaped the institution over its century and a quarter, his star continues to shine. He was a hyper-energetic plantsman who influenced the Garden and American gardening. When the New York Times headlined his September 1986 obituary with 'Major Figure in Horticulture', it was not hyperbole. Even now, three decades after his death, his name still summons amazement, affection and, more often than not, a few good stories.






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From 'One Damned Thing After Another: An Experienced Gardener Tries Something Different' by Lorraine Harrison
'History is just one damned thing after another' is a phrase often both misquoted and misattributed. A character also voices the words in Alan Bennett's 2004 play The History Boys, although here the heat of the curse is somewhat turned up. Whatever their origin these sentiments very much echo my approach to garden design; I seem to do one thing and then I do something else, and on it goes. Whether I curse with a D word or an F word in this process rather depends on how things are going in the garden on any particular day.





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From ' In the Confessional' by Emma Inglis
was honoured that someone introduced me as a gardener the other day, for I'm no gardener at all. It might have been better if they'd said something along the lines of: 'Mary, meet Emma, she's a destructive gardener,' for I'm certainly that. I'm excellent at ripping out things and good with a stick: swish-swish I go at the bracken that creeps up into places that I don't want it to; swishing too at the numpty who ran off with my child's bike or the publisher who didn't understand my poetry, or whatever. I'm good with secateurs - when I was a child my dad taught me how to prune pear trees - and I'm not bad with a garden fork, except when I put it through my foot.





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From 'From the Home Patch' by Tom Petherick
Autumn is all change. It signals the return of decay. The smell of the actinomycetes rising up from the earth as they start working on the plant life as it goes to ground is almost unexpected. The soil dormancy of the summer, when one can instead bathe in the soft scents of flowering plants and warmth and think nothing of the soil which has gone dry having put all its energy into plants, gives way in the autumn to damp and the return of breakdown and chaos.




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From 'Digging with the Duchess: Box Blight' by Sam Llewellyn
Funny old summer, and I mean peculiar, not ha ha. Everything in the garden was either late or early, and there was no telling what would happen next, and the world was in a state of some confusion. Which was not an opportunity that the Duchess, as you will no doubt have surmised already, was going to miss. On a Tuesday when the rhododendrons were still out and the dahlias for cutting were roaring from the ground she sniffed twice, said her hay fever was killing her, and went off to learn French.



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From 'The Editor's Occasional Book Bag'
By 'Sissinghurst' we seem no longer to refer to the Kent village of that name in the borough of Tunbridge Wells, nor, indeed, to centuries-old Sissinghurst Castle, but only to its garden, created in the 1930s by horti-royalty Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson. Vita herself wrote about it extensively and in her wake (she died in 1962) many another scribe in books and articles has heaped garlands upon their creation. To the garden's impressive list of chroniclers we now add Tim Richardson, an internationally recognised leading authority on landscape design and history - and sometime contributor to these pages - whose new book Sissinghurst: The Dream Garden (Frances Lincoln, £30), with photography by Jason Ingram, brings a ninety-year-old story right up to date.



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HORTUS 140 (Winter 2021) will be published in December



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