Saturday 8 June 2019

A Very Good Gardening Book From The Charity Shop.


Here is the book I mentioned the other day.    It only cost one Euro and I am loving it nay devouring the compendium of female garden writing.  






Here's two or three snippets to whet your appetite:

May I assure the gentleman who writes to me (quite often) from a Priory in Sussex that I am not the armchair, library-fireside gardener he evidently suspects, 'never having performed any act of gardening' myself, and that for the last forty years of my life I have broken my back, my finger- nails, and sometimes my heart, in the practical pursuit of my occupation?
                                                            Vita Sackville-West , 1958.

Has anybody visited Sissinghurst?  Is it worth visiting?  I going to Kent soon.  

Gertrude Jekyll (Robert Louis Stephenson was friendly with her family and used their surname) great plantswoman and garden designer wrote:

For planting ground is painting a landscape with living things and I hold that good gardening takes rank within the bounds of the fine arts, so I hold that to plant well needs an artist of no mean capacity.  (Wood and Garden).

I have often said on here that I view gardens and allotments to be works of art.  The gardener and Mother Nature paint the picture and the soil is the easel.

Deborah Kellaway the Editor of The Virago Book Of Women Gardeners asks the question:

And what about the really poor?   They had no gardens, but they  had always gardened.  In the early middle ages they were there with their baskets, working in other people's flower-beds for a few pence a year.  In the seventeenth century Celia Fiennes marvelled at an effigy of one of them in the gardens of Woburn Abbey.  They were still there in the nineteenth century, and Mrs Ewing describes a certain woman in a hood, remembered from her childhood: 'She is not very old but she looks so, because she has lost her teeth, and is bent near double'.  She was bent double because she spent her working life stooped over the soil.  She was, simply, a 'weeder woman'.

What a great find of a book.  It mentions Weeders and Diggers, Advisers and Designers, Plantswomen, Colourists, Countrywomen, Townswomen, Visitors and Travellers, Kitchen Gardeners (walled gardens are my favourite!), Flower Arrangers and Visionaries.  It's a great book!

What's your favourite Estate garden to visit?  In England for me it would be Cholmondley Castle in Cheshire and The Lost Gardens Of Heligan in Cornwall.  I love the walled kitchen garden.  Did I tell you I love walled kitchen gardens?

15 comments:

  1. I have had this book for several years - perfect reading for wet winter days!
    Sissinghurst is wonderful. It's about 300 miles from me, but I've been twice, but it can get very full. You need to allow a fair amount of time, climb the tower if you can, and absorb the atmosphere of the place as well as look at the actual plants. The National Trust's Sissinghurst page has lots of info on its history, gardens etc. The last time we went we were still there at closing time, the only ones left in the garden and it was quite magical. The cafe/restaurant is excellent!
    I hope you go, and enjoy your visit.

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  2. Hi Veg Artist. Yes its a lovely book and I don't think I will be parting with it.

    I am going to Kent in August and attending The New Day Festival at Mount Ephraim gardens near Canterbury. Hoping to visit Battle of Britain museums, Darling Buds Of May filming locations and historical Canterbury and Sissinghurst. Thanks for telling me about Sissinghurst and thank you for your comment.

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  3. Great find, that book, Dave. There is a Gertrude Jekyll garden near here that I went to some years ago. It had been allowed to go wild but you could still the shape of it, fairly simple and the owners had kept it in a spartan manner, but it still worked. I liked it and would like to see more of her work.

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  4. Thanks Rachel. Please will you visit it again some time and do a post on it? I find her fascinating. She liked to plant Bergenias for herbaceous border edging. I once visited Sandringham. Have you been there?

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    Replies
    1. I will go if it is ever open to the public again. I think it must have been a special charity occasion when I went. It is a working farm. I have never been to Sandringham!

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    2. Thanks for getting back. The little church where the Royal family attend is incredibly small yet so homily and beautiful. Especially the altar. The big house is worth visiting too.

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  5. I have long thought, to have no access to a garden is to be impoverished. To have a family and no garden is impoverished. I kept a flower garden in the end, if only to show my grandchildren how to work in soil.

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  6. Hi Joanne. How wonderful to have a Grandmother to show you how to work the soil, set the flower seeds and water and nurture the flowers.

    I once walked past a local authority block of flats in a northern English city. One particular flat had pots of plants and flowers growing all over the balcony. It was amazing to see and showed me you can have a garden anywhere. Its amazing how much flowers and vegetables can be grown in containers no matter the size of the space. Thanks!

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  7. Sissinghurst is a great garden. If your that way it’s worth visiting because of it (and VSW’s and husband, Harold Nicholson’s) place in English garden history. Their famous White Garden is actually very impressive in mid-summer. Is Beth Chatto featured? She died only recently, and although it’s not an ‘estate garden’ it’s the garden that has had the biggest impact on me.

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    1. Thanks Philip. Its always good to get recommendations before visiting somewhere. Just looked up Beth Chatto and their website. Very impressive. I love Heligan. Thanks.

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  8. I always wanted a big garden and now that I have one I can't work in it. Damn getting old. However, I get enjoyment by looking at other gardens and appreciating the fact that I can at least admire all the work people put into their gardens to make them attractive as well as workable.

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  9. Hi Valerie. I look after a cottage garden for an elderly old lady. Her gardening knowledge is second to none and the borders are deep with years of compost applied. I like visiting gardens open to the public. Thanks!

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  10. I love that book! I have been to a lot of Irish gardens and suppose you have been to the Beara and west Cork gardens already (https://westcorkgardentrail.com/gardens/) and I would suggest a trip to Garnish Island on a weekday to avoid the tourists.

    If you are ever around Dublin, don't miss June Blake's garden in Blessington on the western slopes of the Wicklow mountains.
    http://www.juneblake.ie/cms/

    And then there is Rod Alston's Eden in Co. Leitrim. This was and is for many organic gardener the real eden, with amazing variety and expertise. I believe his sister has taken over (??) and has expanded: https://www.theorganiccentre.ie/
    It's definitely worth the journey.

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  11. Thanks Sabine. I have visited Derreen gardens on Beara and Garnish Islandd in Glengarriff. George Bernard Shaw wrote St Joan there. Will check out your other tips. I have heard of the organic centre. Thanks again.

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