|Extracts From The Current Issue|
|Bill Terry's Blue Heaven slipped under my radar when it came out ten years ago. Subtitled 'Encounters with the Blue Poppy', it's all about various species and cultivars of the genus Meconopsis - the fabled Himalayan blue poppy - MM. baileyi (aka betonicifolia), × sheldonii (formerly grandis) and the lesser-known integrifolia, gracilipies, wallichii and a host of others in other colours. |
Earlier this year I bought seed of baileyi and its Shades of Blue mixture and the single variety 'Lingholm', reputedly the bluest of the blues. Germination was patchy but generally good (the seed should be fresh) and I'm nursing them now in their post-natal phase in the hope of raising young plants strong enough to with- stand a move outside to semi-shaded beds before winter sets in.
|From: 'Tradescant's Diary' by Hugh Johnson|
|12 April 2019: When you know a public park as well as your own garden it can be difficult to keep quiet about the way it's run. Holland Park is our backyard. You couldn't ask for more variety in a mere fifty acres. Besides the remains of Holland House, re-bombed in the Second World War, and now used as the setting for Holland Park Opera, there is a generous playing field and tennis courts, a wild woodland (popular with foxes) covering a third of the area, a formal Dutch Garden, well-known for its tulips, a historic camellia walk, peacocks, iris beds, a maple-and-hellebore walk, two play- grounds and an ecology centre, an orangery, a café, a restaurant and London's best Japanese garden. The idea has always been to keep as much as possible of the country house garden it was in Lord Holland's and Lord Ilchester's times. On the whole it is a credit to the Kensington and Chelsea Parks Department and the park's Friends. You're waiting for a 'but'; here it comes
|From 'My First (Winning) Garden' by Paula Noble, winner of the inaugural Mollie Salisbury Cup, a garden memoir-writing competition run by the Garden Museum|
|My first garden? When is a garden a first garden??My earliest memory of myself as a being separate from all else but perfectly in place in a setting - is of a spirit child, alone, running I think, not from fear or from or to anything or anyone, but through a planted land of sunshine on grass with tiny flowers if one cared to look and water, maybe a brook that I cannot see but I know is there. This spirit child moves through the yellow landscape, con- tent, never a need for anyone and time is both a moment and an eternity. Whenever I recall this garden dreamscape, a tune emerges somewhere in the distance. I can hear it tinkling through that running brook. The tune is 'Happy Journey', from a song that came out in 1962 when I was four years old. How or why it should have attached itself to my special place, I don't know but the two arrived together. The words of the song, with the possible exception of the title, had no special significance for me then, nor do they now. It is not a song I like particularly, nor do I dislike it but it is locked to a memory of a time, forever associated with a kind of tinted happiness. |
|From 'Single But Not on the Shelf: Single-flowered Roses' by John West|
|Everyone knows what a rose flower looks like. If you asked school children to draw a rose, the result is unlikely to be a bloom with a single row of petals like the common dog rose - Rosa canina. Most probably it would be a high-centred rosebud as seen in a Disney fairy-tale cartoon, or a Tudor rose, or even something that might be found in a supermarket bouquet. In all probability it would be red and packed with petals. |
The development of the garden rose has been a journey from simple flowers like the dog rose or the species gallica to the petal-full flowers of the modern old-fashioned varieties that fill the catalogues. The colour range has been extended by rose breeders from the pale shades of these early roses, to provide a palette which includes deep velvet-reds, pure brilliant whites, yellows and all combinations in between. There was a time when the full double blooms might have been something of a rarity, but the form quickly became the norm to such an extent that single flowered roses were, and still are, uncommon in the sales areas of nurseries and garden centres.
|From 'A Pleasure All Year Round: Holker Through the Seasons. Part Two: Summer' by Hugh Cavendish|
|In Part One (HORTUS 129) I brooded on my good fortune in not being burdened by the sad condition of worrying about one's legacy. Living, as I do, on the periphery of politics, and having paddled this last year in the fetid pond of Brexit, my view has hardened. The 'legacy condition' is a perfect menace and like its cousin, Hubris, probably incurable. |
I mention this because each week, when I return from Westminster positively weighed down by the angst of career politicians, and the legacy-obsessed official class, I marvel yet again at the extraordinary healing power of the natural world. So much can be gained mentally from the simple act of pottering about in a lovely garden. More to the point, I never fail to be surprised by the effect of even the briefest encounter with the soil; just ten minutes in the potting shed mixing compost and I feel all the accumulated downsides of life being literally 'earthed'.
|From From 'The Hurricane: Death and Resurrection of a Caribbean Garden' by Paul Crask|
|At around 8.30pm on 18 September 2017 Category Five Hurricane Maria made landfall in Dominica. Winds of 220mph were recorded for eight traumatic hours that none of us who lived through it will ever forget. |
By daybreak, the world was eerily silent. My wife was still sleeping. We had finally crashed out, thoroughly soaked and exhausted, at around 3.30 a.m. when we had calculated that the storm had moved out across the Caribbean Sea on its way to devastate Puerto Rico. Water was six inches deep in the kitchen but, by some miracle, we still had a roof. Nevertheless, I expected structural damage of some kind because of all the piercing screams of splitting wood and the sounds of heavy impact against the house that had seemed to go on forever, tormenting us with the expectation that our roof would suddenly be torn off and disappear into the night. Rain like I had never seen had been driven inside through both roof and wooden walls by the force and direction of the wind, as if they had not been there at all. Several of our upstairs shutters had been ripped open and we had fought the wind and the rain to close them again. During those moments of fearful struggle, I had been able to look out into the dark night to see the air filled with flying debris and objects of all kinds, all lit up by the blue-white ashes of fork lightning, striking in concert with the thunderous roar of the monster. None of it had felt real, and my brain had struggled to comprehend what my eyes had been witnessing.
|From 'Gin, Jazz and Gardens: The Landscapes of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald' by Marta McDowell|
|To say that F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is a classic is a given. Some call it a cult classic. Its story of distorted dreams and tragic relationships is beloved of generations of secondary school teachers and movie producers. That it has sold in excess of thirty million copies would stun its author. Compared to his first two novels, sales of Gatsby were sluggish to say the least, for his whole life. Few would call Gatsby or any of the collected works of Fitzgerald classics of garden writing, but both Scott and his wife Zelda managed to capture Jazz Age gardens on both sides of the Atlantic in shimmering prose and in the lives they lived. |
The Great Gatsby opens with the narrator, Nick Carraway. He is a recent transplant to New York's Long Island, a young Midwesterner who has come to the city to earn a living in the bond business. Standing outside his little rented house in fictional West Egg - a wealthy if nouveau riche coastal town - Carraway describes the neighbouring estate: 'The <Actinic:Variable Name = 'house'/> on my right was a colossal aVair by any standard - it was a factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby's mansion.'
The enigmatic Jay Gatsby gives Carraway a tour of the place, showing him grounds replete with marble steps, a sunken Italian garden, stretches of pungent, blooming roses, and a wide private beach. The garage has adequate space for multiple cars, including the Rolls Royce.
|From'Gardens in the Waverley Novels' of Sir Walter Scott by Brent Elliott|
|In 1814, a novel entitled Waverley, or 'Tis Sixty Years Since was published anonymously in Edinburgh, and took the world by storm. The 'Author of Waverley' went on to publish twenty-five further novels and some miscellaneous stories, almost all of them historical fiction, set at intervals from twenty to seven hundred years earlier. It was not until 1827 that Sir Walter Scott finally acknowledged that he was the author. All the novels sold well, all were translated into every European language; collectively they gave rise to a great progeny of paintings and operas, and novelists and historians alike tried to rival Scott in his capacity to bring the past to life. And they also stimulated the development of an historical attitude to gardens, and the beginnings of garden restoration. |
The main action of Waverley takes place during the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 (more like seventy than sixty years previously by the time the novel was published). The climax of the novel is the pardoning of the Jacobite laird, Baron Bradwardine, and his return to his manor, which has been restored after wartime devastation. Scott, after all, had a political agenda in his poetry and fiction: the maintenance of peaceful relations between England and Scotland, the superiority of harmony over civil strife.
|From 'From the Home Patch' by Tom Petherick|
|The true definition of the vastly overused word 'sustainable' is revealed at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Here there are a hundred certified acres of prime South Cork land all of which are focused on producing fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, poultry and just about anything else you can think of for the school with any surplus for sale. |
Fifty-seven keen-as-mustard students set sail on the twelve-week intensive cooking course. There are sixteen different nationalities, including an eighty-four-year-old Australian man and a super famous Irish talent-show host. It is a course that will ensure that should they want one they could get a job as a chef anywhere on the planet. For good measure they will have Darina Allen snapping at their heels throughout their careers. Ballymaloe is an institution, a global brand with a reputation far beyond Ireland and a first rate example of what is possible with incredible cooking and teaching, good organic cultivation, attention to detail and all the other essentials that make up a good business.
|From'Digging with the Duchess: Towards Valhalla' by Sam Llewellyn|
|'It is time,' said the Duchess this spring, 'that we went to Tresco again.' |
Of course she had a point. The Malus transitoria that is the Hope's principal ornament at that joyful season had duly bloomed into its snow-white galaxy, and shed its petals, and was pupating its thou- sands of tiny yellow applets, beloved of fieldfares and similar if we get a winter this year. The spring stuff, in short, was coming to an end, and the summer stuff was taking the deep slow breath that prepares it for the dive into the world of air. Plus nobody had been sailing for absolutely ages.
So down to the sea we went, and found the yacht Dahlia, pride of the fleet, in such beautiful early-season condition that even the Duchess, schooled among the brass buttons and close-seamed duck canvas of the Royal Yacht Squadron, could not but approve. I reminded her of the remarks of Joshua Slocum, the early solo circumnavigator, who said that he had painted one of his boats until he scarcely knew it from a butterfly. The Duchess, who had now taken surly at the lack of White Ensigns, observed that Slocum was some sort of American as far as she knew, though she did not much care, he being dead and good riddance, and the Squadron was the Squadron. I reminded her that until recently there were no ladies' lavatories at that august club, the female companions of members being forced to relieve themselves in the shrubbery. And we sailed, in a state of mutual recrimination from which I was only saved by the Duchess instantly being sick.
|'Cherry' Ingram: The Englishman Who Saved Japan's Blossoms|
by Naoko Abe, reviewed by Tim Richardson
Where the Hornbeam Grows: A Journey in Search of a Garden
by Beth Lynch, reviewed by Matt Collins
|America Book Notes:|
by Judith Tankard
|The History of Landscape Design in 100 Gardens|
by Linda Chisholm
Gardenlust: A Botanical Tour of the World's Best New Gardens
by Christopher Woods
David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Gardens of the Early Republic
by Victoria Johnson
Gardening Across the Pond
by Richard Bisgrove
Shaping the Postwar Landscape
edited by Charles A. Birnbaum and Scott Craver
|The Editor's Quarterly Book Bag:|
|Kiftsgate Court Gardens: Three Generations of Women Gardeners|
by Vanessa Berridge
The Planthunters: Truth, Beauty, Chaos and Plants
by Georgina Reid
Bringing the Mediterranean into your Garden
by Olivier Filippi
Naturalistic Planting Design: The Essential Guide
by Nigel Dunnett
The Art of the Japanese Garden: History, Culture, Design
by David and Michiko Young
100 Japanese Gardens
by Stephen Mansfield
Bonsai and Penjing: Ambassadors of Peace & Beauty
by Ann McClellan
The Apprehensive Gardener
by Griselda Kerr
RHS Colour Companion: A Visual Dictionary of Colour for Gardeners
by Ross Bayton and Richard Sneesby
Roses and Rose Gardens
by Claire Masset
HORTUS 131, Autumn 2019 will be published at the end of September