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Author Topic: GARDEN HISTORY  (Read 12591 times)

Maggi Young

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GARDEN HISTORY
« on: May 05, 2011, 08:49:01 PM »
As the Rock Garden at Wisley celebrates its Centenary this seems an appropriate time to introduce a new thread to the IRG section of the Forum.

These milestones in garden history generate interest as we contemplate how various trends and introductions have impacted on our own way of gardening in the present day.

Dr John Page, of Solihull in the midlands of England has a special interest in garden design and features.

John is the convenor of the History of Rock and Alpine Gardening Study Group (HORAG) of the AGS ( http://www.alpinegardensociety.net/groups/specialist/history/  ) and has kindly agreed to prepare an introductory feature for this thread, which we hope will be a starting point for discussion of other garden history tales from other parts of the world.

« Last Edit: May 05, 2011, 09:25:37 PM by Maggi Young »
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!


"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."

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Re: GARDEN HISTORY
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2011, 08:54:16 PM »
From Dr John Page:


250 YEARS OF GROWING ALPINES OUTDOORS IN BRITAIN

ABSTRACT: ROCK AND ALPINE GARDENING IN BRITAIN HAS A LONG HISTORY. WHAT WAS A PASTIME FOR A PRIVILEGED, WELL-EDUCATED MINORITY IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BECAME ALMOST A NATIONAL CRAZE IN THE EDWARDIAN ERA AND HAS CONTINUED TO REMAIN POPULAR. AGAIN AND AGAIN OVER THE YEARS NEW TECHNIQUES HAVE EVOLVED TO IMPROVE THE CULTIVATION OF ALPINES IN A CLIMATE WHICH IS NOT ALWAYS FAVOURABLE. THE ARTICLE EXPLORES THESE TECHNIQUES AND TRIES TO SHOW HOW MANY GROWERS WERE AHEAD OF THEIR TIME. A SECONDARY THEME IS THE EVOLVING UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT CONSTITUTES A ROCK GARDEN AS OPPOSED TO AN ALPINE GARDEN.

The industrial revolution that began in Britain and its direct consequence, the expanding British role in trade, brought not only invaluable knowledge of the world’s resources such as tea and rubber but also a greater awareness of the riches of the plant kingdom as a whole. Our famous garden Kew was established simply as a home for the world’s commercially useful and garden-worthy plants. By the early eighteenth century, the notion that plants had been put on earth solely for the physical benefit of humans, either to feed them or to cure them of their ills, was virtually obsolete. Their commercial possibilities were now being explored and, more importantly from our point of view, their decorative potential in our gardens. At the same time, for the increasingly well educated, affluent middle-classes who had more leisure than ever before, growing plants, studying their endlessly interesting structures and taking part in flower-hunting expeditions, “herborising” as it was called, became popular pastimes. The science of botany was no longer the preserve of apothecaries, it was a subject to be enjoyed by one and all and the first local floras had already been written for many parts of the British Isles by 1800. The botanical interests of these new enthusiasts were not confined to their own country. Foreign travel was booming and the Grand Tour took hundreds of eager plant-loving “tourists” to the European Alps. Their own mountains, the Snowdonia area of North Wales, the Lake District in northern England and the Highlands of Scotland had already revealed that desirable plants were to be found in the high places, plants that had different characteristics from those of the lowlands, beautiful, little plants that cried out to be grown in gardens. Of course, they dug them up and brought them back and of course, sadly, many of them perished, but they had started the process of finding out how to cultivate “alpine plants” as they came to be called. The know-how began to accumulate and information spread rapidly via the newly established gardening magazines. This then was the beginning of what has been called one of the great British contributions to horticulture, the rock garden and its offspring, the alpine garden.


I.   Rocks, in situ or introduced, were an important feature in areas of eighteenth century gardens where an informal or romantic atmosphere was desired and picturesque effects were sought after. One of the earliest pieces of surviving evidence that rocks were being used to cultivate alpines is the pile of water-worn stones of black basaltic lava assembled in the Chelsea Physic Garden on the banks of the river Thames in London in 1774. Joseph (later Sir Joseph) Banks, who arranged for these materials to be brought back from Iceland, stipulated that they should be used to grow rock plants. Amongst amateur botanists there were clear signs of a surge of interest in growing plants brought down from the mountains. In 1767, John Blackburne had assembled rocks in his garden in Cheshire to cultivate alpines in conditions similar to those he had met in Snowdonia.  In 1775, the Quakers Dr. John Fothergill and Dr.William Pitcairn dispatched Thomas Blaikie to the Alps to collect plants for their private botanic gardens. He returned with hundreds of specimens, including Ranunculus glacialis, Campanula cenisia and Androsace alpina. In 1778, John Abercrombie in his book “Universal gardener and botanist” mentioned artificial rocks (i.e rocks arranged on site) “planted with a variety of saxatile plants or such as grow naturally on rocks and mountains”.

II.    Botanising was not confined to the men. As a healthy outdoor pursuit it was recommended for the gentler sex such as Lady Broughton of Hoole House. When John Claudius Loudon, author of the “Encyclopaedia of Gardening” (1822), visited her garden in 1831 he found a precariously built rockwork wall representing a mountain panorama in Savoy complete with a “Mer de Glace” fashioned from limestone, quartz and spar to represent the eternal snows.. She had done the Grand Tour and, having carefully observed the various ways in which plants were growing in the French Alps, she adapted her cultivation methods to suit what Loudon called her “selection of the most beautiful and rare alpines”. Each species was given its own pocket of suitable soil and there was a top-dressing of fragments of stone and clean-washed river gravel if evaporation was  a problem, or moss if the object was to retain moisture. If she wished to keep the soil relatively warm, she used dark fragments of rock; and to keep the soil cool, she gave it a covering of white pebbles which reflected the light and heat.


III.                       Throughout the nineteenth century, rock in its own right remained an important feature in our gardens. An article in “The Gardener’s Magazine” of 1831 proclaimed “few objects produce a more striking effect than immense masses of stone, piled together in such a way as at once to give a particular character of rocky mass, and to form a proper nidus (nook) for plants”. At least, the needs of the plants were an issue here. This was not always the case. On a hillside at Chatsworth, home of the Duke of Devonshire, Joseph (later Sir Joseph) Paxton assembled gigantic rocks to produce picturesque copies of the bold outcrops in the area. Paxton stressed that “the vegetation which accompanies an extensive rockery”  must “be subordinate to it”. Alpine plants were, nevertheless, becoming more and more in demand and specialist nurserymen were providing them. Undoubtedly, rock gardens were being built which allowed the plants a higher status , but the designers were often unsure as to how the rocks should be arranged. Jane Loudon in her “Ladies Companion to the Flower Garden”(1841) commented “Where there are collections of such plants as Saxifrages or other Alpines, or of Cistuses, Helianthemums, rock work is very desirable” ; the blocks of stone, she recommended, should be disposed “in imitation of some form of stratification”. At least she was aware of the importance of overall appearance in rockwork, and we may be seeing here the beginnings of the typical English horizontal style. She did not think much of Androsaces, though, describing them in her book as “Little insignificant plants, not worth growing except for rockwork; and only suited for that purpose from their feeble habit of growth, which prevents them from spreading fast”.


IV.   Her husband, J.C. Loudon, had over 600 species of alpines in his London garden, all in pots. Many serious growers of alpines were not prepared to entrust their precious plants to rockwork. They were well aware of the importance of appropriate composts and the need to reproduce snow cover, vital in a country where winters could be mild and extremely wet. Alpines in pots were the answer, plunged outdoors in ash-pits, and protected by overhead lights when the rains came. Alternatively, they were kept in frames covered with glass sashes. Charles McIntosh (“The Book of the Garden”, 1853) recommended that the standard compost should be “sandy peat and loam in equal parts”, but some alpines he stressed had special needs, such as Saxifraga cernua  “which is only found amongst the debris of micaceous rocks” Here, he advised “soil in which mica in a reduced state forms a part”. This realization that different species might require bespoke (specially made) composts was taken to its logical conclusion at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, where James McNab’s rock garden consisted of four thousand angular compartments of various sizes, each “filled with soil suited to the various plants”. It may have looked bizarre but the results apparently were a great success.

V.   It was generally recognized then that alpines were a challenge to the grower’s skills. William Robinson, who transformed the British gardening scene in the later years of the nineteenth century through his advocacy of the “wild garden” with a much wider range of plant material, also gave alpine gardening its first reliable “bible” with the publication of his “Alpine Flowers for English Gardens” (1870). In the introduction, he related that the Duke of Argyll had eloquently informed Queen Victoria and “a crowd of assembled horticulturalists” that, though they had solved most of the problems of gardening, “they were conquered by one difficulty – that of growing alpine plants”. The optimistic Robinson thought this view unfounded. He had written his book “to dispel a very general error, that the exquisite flowers of alpine countries cannot be grown in gardens”. His manual dealt with most aspects of the cultivation of alpines, including the construction of rock gardens. Particularly impressive was the section on plants in crevices which had been written by Mr. James Backhouse of York. The bulk of Robinson’s book consisted of a list of several hundred alpines, with plant descriptions and advice to the cultivator. There were ten Androsaces, for example. Androsace carnea required at least 30 cm depth of sandy loam and peat in an exposed spot,  well watered in the dry season to encourage a young plant  to take deep root. Androsace helvetica was to be placed between and tightly pressed by stones about the size of a fist, which would guard it against danger from excessive moisture. Androsace pubescens would grow without difficulty in “sunny fissures in deep sandy and gritty peat”.
Androsace villosa was to be planted “in a properly made fissure between limestone rocks”. Much of this expertise had been acquired from the staff of the remarkable Backhouse Nursery in York, which Robinson visited regularly. It is not possible to over-emphasize the contribution of that Nursery to alpine gardening in Britain. Not only was its stock of alpines unsurpassed, the staff were sent to the Alps on a systematic basis to study how they grew in their native habitats. A huge rock garden was built on site at the nursery in a style which maximized the number of crevices and pockets. Illustrations which have come down to us show that they
were also using scree techniques half a century before the term became generally known. Rock as such, however, still remained a major component of many gardens. Where it was not available on site, a rival to the Backhouse nursery, the firm of James Pulham, built rock gardens with remarkably convincing artificial rocks (“Pulhamite”) in a range of geological styles.

VI.    Despite all these advances, rock gardening, even after Robinson’s efforts, remained a minority interest. Within a few decades the picture had changed dramatically and it became almost a national craze. In 1881, George Curling Joad, an obsessive hoarder of alpines ( an obvious precursor of  Karel Čapek’s  twentieth-century alpine gardener, the “serious maniac”) died and bequeathed his entire collection of around 3000 species to Kew. The Director decided to take the radical step of constructing a grand new rock garden to accommodate them. The outcome was “the nation’s rock garden at Kew”, designed to simulate a meandering rocky watercourse in the Pyrenees. It was a hit with the public and others followed such as the splendid rockwork at the Birmingham Botanic Garden specially built  by Backhouse “for the reception of alpines” and donated to the city in 1895 by Hugh Nettlefold, the wealthy owner of a local engineering company. The same decade saw the construction of the amazing 7000 ton rock extravaganza ( at Friar Park,  Henley on Thames, home of the lawyer Sir Frank Crisp), topped by a mock Matterhorn and vividly displaying thousands of massed alpines on its flanks.

VII.    During the early years of the twentieth century, the Edwardian Era (1901-1910), the leisurely “long golden afternoon” before the First World War, book after book about alpines and rock gardens appeared on the market. The most successful author, Reginald Farrer, was accorded the role of high priest. He went to the mountains regularly, plant-hunted in China and Upper Burma and wrote about his experiences among the hills in rich (for some too rich) prose.  He gave alpine gardeners a standard work “My Rock Garden” (1907) and a new encyclopedia, the monumental “English Rock Garden” (1919) in two volumes. Of Androsaces, he wrote “Perhaps of all mountain races this name is engraved most deeply on the rock-gardener’s heart”, a far cry from Jane Loudon’s condemnation. He described over fifty species and hybrids and suggested how they might be grown. The requirements of  Androsace alpina, he wrote, were “ a loose rich mixture of sandy peat and chips and leafmould and grit”, ideally with water trickling though the bed about twelve inches (30 cm) below the surface. He set out to improve the overall appearance of rock gardens and defined bad constructions in such terms as a “drunkard’s dream” or an “almond pudding”. He laid down the rules for aesthetically pleasing rockwork, chiefly that it should appear to have an underlying structure and should be “of a piece”. He introduced the concept of a “moraine”, a lean scree through whose foundations water seeped. His first moraine model became “a joy and a jewel”, where more demanding alpines such as Petrocallis pyrenaica or Edraianthus pumilio flourished. His most audacious rock garden at Clapham on the Yorkshire border was in the vertical cliff edging the lake on the family estate, where he dangled his workmen from rope ladders to cram the crevices with alpines. The high rainfall at Clapham also fostered his interest in bog plants. Above all, Farrer was a plantsman and his works established the growing of alpines as a magnificently rewarding leisure pursuit which endured throughout the twentieth century  He is still read, and quite right too. It is no surprise that an early President of the Alpine Garden Society, F.H.Fisher, ascribed its very foundation in 1929 to the “power of Farrer”.

VIII.    Farrer died whilst plant-hunting in Upper Burma in 1920. In the years which followed his reputation soared and his disciples were many. Capt. B. Symons-Jeune used his knowledge of geology to replicate natural outcrops with striking authenticity  and his book “Natural Rock Gardening” was for a time very popular. The reasons for his decline are interesting. Initially, the two terms “rock garden” and “alpine garden” were virtually synonymous. In the years between the two World Wars, the latter term “alpine garden”, possibly due to the arrival of the Alpine Garden Society, gradually took on a different meaning. It now began to stand for an approach to gardening with alpines without rockwork. Mainly due to the efforts of the nurserymen and outstanding publicist Clarence Elliott, the nineteen thirties saw a renewed interest in old techniques and some new ones, particularly frames, troughs, growing alpines in tufa and the alpine lawn. Some even had the temerity to suggest that rocks had had their day. The emphasis had shifted to the plants themselves, and to devices which improved the chances of their successful cultivation. Rockwork had its limitations, it seemed. Two schools of thought were emerging, the “planters” or “plantists” and the “rockers”, two camps almost. It has to be said that the former won the day in the latter half of the twentieth century, but not entirely. In a survey carried out by the author, three quarters of the AGS gardens open to members included some form of rockwork. Tufa is a major feature in our gardens and its uses are extremely varied, perhaps the most striking example being Roy Elliott’s tufa cliff.

IX.    The most formidable challenger to rocks has been the raised bed, popularised after the Second World War by the examples at Savill Gardens. Very few alpine gardens in Britain are without one. When properly made, they ensure drainage, aeration, a cool root run, all that most alpines need., and they are perfect for small gardens. Raised beds now come in all shapes and sizes and are used extensively in landscaping, especially on steeply sloping sites. Screes are likewise never very far away in the alpine gardens of most AGS members.


X.    In conclusion I wish to dispel the idea that the impetus for change and all the innovations in alpine gardening have always arisen in England. From the Scots we have amongst other things inherited the peat walls and peat beds that derive from experiments at Logan gardens near Stranraer in the 1920’s. The contribution to this form of alpine gardening by Alf Evans of the RBG, Edinburgh, has been of enormous importance. The origins of the scree concept that Farrer developed and the alpine meadow that William Robinson, Ellen Willmott, E.A Bowles and others incorporated in their gardens go back to an 1889 pamphlet by Friedrich Sündermann “Geröllfeld und Alpenwiese”. In our own time, influences from gardens in Holland, Germany and Sweden are being absorbed.

XI. .  Undoubtedly, the most promising innovation in our own times has been the arrival of the crevice garden from the Czech Republic. There are numerous examples of the use of  rockwork with vertical crevices over the past hundred years in our literature, so the Czechs have not invented the crevice garden. They do seem, however, to be responsible for the name, which is half the battle and no one can doubt that the Czechs have perfected the construction techniques. That they can be used to grow alpines very successfully is beyond doubt, that they can be aesthetically pleasing is equally certain and I have the feeling that we are witnessing the beginnings of a boom in their use in Britain. The AGS has seen the light and a superb new crevice garden masterminded by Zdeněk Zvolánek now graces the alpine garden at our headquarters in Pershore. It is an exciting new medium and we are only just beginning to explore its possibilities.

XII.  I have concentrated on ways and means of growing alpines outdoors, but alpine gardening is never static and it is pleasing to know that our best Botanic Gardens are maintaining their long-held interest in the subject.  Combining water with rocks has been around for at least a hundred years and recently both Kew and the RBG, Edinburgh have added cascades and streams. I want to finish with a mention of another of the changes taking place at Kew. The 1980’s high-tech. Alpine House and its refrigerated bed have been replaced by an almost surreal new design with a subterranean labyrinth that accumulates cold air during the night and emits it during the day. Air circulation, so essential to the well being of alpines, is fostered by use of a huge sail in the roof, the angle of which may be adjusted according to the direction of the wind. It is only a few miles from the Chelsea Physic Garden and those lumps of water-worn basalt from Iceland.



J.F.P.



Tim Ingram

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Re: GARDEN HISTORY
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2011, 06:49:34 PM »
I have a full set of the AGS Bulletin, completed by spending all my profits at the Harlow Show years ago on buying a set of bound volumes from Mike Park. They are fun and illuminating to look back at, as is John Page's view of AGS garden history. Even a long while back there is mention of sand beds, which has been an interest of mine for some time. I hope to put together an article drawing on some of the writing in the Bulletin, and also on books such as Gwendolyn Anley's on 'Alpine House Culture'. I look forward to delving more into the Bulletins and also learning more about Garden History on this Forum.
Dr. Timothy John Ingram. Nurseryman & gardener with strong interest in plants of Mediterranean-type climates and dryland alpines. Garden in Kent, UK. www.coptonash.plus.com

Tim Ingram

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Re: GARDEN HISTORY
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2011, 10:47:10 AM »
For those who enjoy delving back into the AGS Bulletins there are many gems of articles by famous gardeners of the past, some highly appropriate to the present day. A number of these that caught my eye I have commented on on the AGS website. They show how remarkable the Society (and no doubt the SRGC and NARGS too) has been since its foundation, not only in stimulating the study and distribution of plants, but also in fostering what Lincoln Foster comments at one point as a 'sophisticated' form of gardening. Really it comes down to an affinity with plants, which goes in many different directions depending on circumstances and interests, and I think is more about forging friendships than competition, or even rigorous scientific study. It will be interesting to see what gardeners in the past thought of these issues, even though our modern world is different in many respects, and there are many resonances when you look back which show the value of this Garden History thread.
Dr. Timothy John Ingram. Nurseryman & gardener with strong interest in plants of Mediterranean-type climates and dryland alpines. Garden in Kent, UK. www.coptonash.plus.com

Maggi Young

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Re: GARDEN HISTORY
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2014, 03:49:32 PM »
Kew  has prepared  a new online section devoted to the correspondence of Joseph Dalton Hooker :

"The Joseph Hooker Correspondence Project

The Joseph Hooker Correspondence  Project is conserving, digitising, transcribing, and making available, online, the personal and scientific correspondence of Joseph Hooker (1817-1911), an important but often overlooked 19th century naturalist and explorer. He was the leading botanist of his day, pioneered the discipline of geographical botany, served as President of the Royal Society from 1873-1878 and as Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for twenty years (1865-1885).

Hooker had an extensive network of correspondents, including many of the great Victorian scientists, most famously Charles Darwin. The formation of this online repository of Hooker's letters, comprised largely of previously unpublished archive material, is intended chiefly to facilitate academic research. RBG, Kew also hopes to bring knowledge of Joseph Hooker to a wider audience and to extend awareness of the extent and significance of his work.
See  here on the Kew website


Garden Historian Toby Musgrave  gives  links in his blog to  now fewer than eight videos, made by Jupe Productions and Peter Donaldson, about Hooker  - HERE
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!


"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."

Tim Ingram

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Re: GARDEN HISTORY
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2014, 06:03:34 PM »
There is a super booklet published by Kew that I picked up on my last visit: 'Joseph Hooker, Botanical Trailblazer' by Pat Griggs. It really puts into perspective the differences, and also similarities, between those earlier days of Botanical exploration and now - and how important this remains (and how much the specialist gardening community contributes).
Dr. Timothy John Ingram. Nurseryman & gardener with strong interest in plants of Mediterranean-type climates and dryland alpines. Garden in Kent, UK. www.coptonash.plus.com

Tim Ingram

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Re: GARDEN HISTORY
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2014, 08:19:22 PM »
From the 'RHS Chelsea Flower Show - The First Hundred Years: 1913 - 2013' by Brent Elliott:

"The magazine The Garden greeted the rock garden as not only beautiful but also instructive: 'we might be pardoned for believing them to be a true bit of [alpine] scenery. Hence the object of their being is achieved; the teaching value is sound, which, after all, is the one great reason for holding such exhibitions at all.' Such statements proved very helpful a few years later, when the RHS was under pressure to explain the educational value of Chelsea in order to escape Entertainment Tax."

Brent Elliott describes how the very first outdoor gardens, when the RHS Great Spring Show was held at the Temple in the 1890's, were rockeries made by the Guildford Hardy Plant Nursery, Backhouse of York and Pulham & Son. By 1913, the first year that the Show was held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, a whole series of rock gardens were built by Backhouse, Cheals, the Craven Nursery of Reginald Farrer, Clarence Elliott, the Guildford Hardy Plant Nursery, Pulham & Son, George Whitelegg and John Wood. Not a bad time to be interested in alpine plants!

I suppose to some extent, and sadly for those of us keen on growing alpines and rock plants now, the hey-day of Chelsea rock gardens began to decline by the 1950's, even though an interest in alpine plants certainly didn't, and some rock gardens continued to be made on and off into the 1980's. One of the best of all, designed by Michael Upward, was made by the AGS in 1989 in celebration of 60 years from the Society's inauguration. It is quite surprising, in view of what remains a strong educational value in growing alpine and woodland plants - probably above all others in ecological and environmental terms - that smaller scale examples of 'rock' gardens (even without significant use of rock) are still not popular at Chelsea. Presumably this relates to their scale: they are no longer the preserve of larger gardens and wealthy gardeners but much more constructed personally by knowledgeable plants-people. This seems all the more reason to emphasise their educational worth, and the scope and variety of these plants is hardly any less than the more popular interests in hardy perennials or trees and shrubs, even thought the scale is very different.

Brent Elliott mentions at one point a comment from Graham Stuart Thomas (who started his career working for Clarence Elliott) that the rock gardens were 'great works of art', but the truth is that they were - and perhaps potentially still are - quite narrow in the range of plants grown and the way they were displayed, compared with 'Garden Design' now which has become infinitely more sophisticated and with gardening 'theatre' coming much more to the fore.  Furthermore it would be hard not to class many of the present day Show gardens as 'great works of art' too, even if beyond the reach of most gardeners. The big question that could be posed is whether there is room for smaller works of art now? Many smaller gardens are displayed at Chelsea so the scope for designs based around alpine and woodland plants, with the sort of artistry and knowledge found within the specialist alpine and rock garden societies, must be there.

Brent Elliott's book on the first 100 years of Chelsea is a wonderful exposé of the Show for anyone who has visited it and been involved in making displays, and gives a more balanced view of the Show over time, despite much of the hype and criticism that always surrounds it and often makes it less applicable to 'real' gardening. It would be nice though to see the re-emergence of 'rock gardens' in modern guise, and so perhaps these will find their followers again in future years?
Dr. Timothy John Ingram. Nurseryman & gardener with strong interest in plants of Mediterranean-type climates and dryland alpines. Garden in Kent, UK. www.coptonash.plus.com

Maggi Young

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Re: GARDEN HISTORY
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2014, 09:25:04 AM »
Quote
........but the truth is that they were - and perhaps potentially still are - quite narrow in the range of plants grown and the way they were displayed, compared with 'Garden Design' now which has become infinitely more sophisticated and with gardening 'theatre' coming much more to the fore. Furthermore it would be hard not to class many of the present day Show gardens as 'great works of art' too, even if beyond the reach of most gardeners.

I would have to disagree  - it seem to me that "garden design" is woefully formulaic. Hard landscaping is always to the fore at the expense of planting - as a sceptic  I would suggest that is because of the poor plant knowledge of a great many of these so called "designers". It is clear that  over each year the range of flowers used in the Chelsea show gardens is very narrow - which strikes me as a poor effort  when there is so much money poured into these gardens. The same plants crop up time and again and also, in some cases from year to year. I saw one comment this year that "it was good to see that the  ubiquitous cow parsley" had disappeared from Chelsea 2014  - and that after I had been struck by just how much of the stuff had featured in the TV coverage!
What is a "show garden" ever to be if not "theatre" ? Of course the old time rock garden displays had their own form of  hard landscaping with the extensive use of natural rock - but their aim was to produce a vignette of  a wild landscape and so the coalescence of rock and planting is more organic and to my mind, much more theatrical and astonishing, requiring much more  understanding of the ecology of the plants and their origins.
For the most part a winning show garden is based on a well tried formula that mimics the fine historical gardens - not much new or innovative that I can see. History really is repeating itself!

Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!


"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."

Tim Ingram

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Re: GARDEN HISTORY
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2014, 11:41:38 AM »
I could see gardens of the types made by Peter Korn and Michał Hoppel or the Czech rock gardeners at Chelsea, but how would they go down with visitors? In plant terms they would be far more sophisticated than most else on show and it would be fascinating to see if they would capture the imagination of plants-people. A seaside garden made by Julie Toll is described by Brent Elliott 'which replicated a strip of coastal vegetation so naturalistically as to incur criticism for not being a garden at all...' Another example mentioned is a garden made by Brian Halliwell  for Kew (in 1976) on the theme of British native plants, showing 200 species in three different environments. Apparently 'Many [visitors] were nonplussed by such a deviation from normal horticulture'! Put a seaside garden into the same frame that Derek Jarman did and then you do have a Show garden - and actually one that many gardeners could identify with and consider making in the right environment. So how could alpine plants be made to capture the same attention in the absence of the naturalistic larger scale rock gardens of old? Scope for many ideas here like those I mention in the first sentence.             
Dr. Timothy John Ingram. Nurseryman & gardener with strong interest in plants of Mediterranean-type climates and dryland alpines. Garden in Kent, UK. www.coptonash.plus.com

Maggi Young

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Re: GARDEN HISTORY
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2014, 04:57:40 PM »
From a message just received from the BBC, it appears that any of us might get the chance to design a Chelsea Garden!
http://www.srgc.net/forum/index.php?topic=11669.msg307122#msg307122
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!


"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."

Maggi Young

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History of English rock gardening - radio feature
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2014, 06:39:40 PM »
Radio programme on the history of English rock gardening 
6 days left to listen on BBC i-player

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0076f9s
"Radio 4 Extra Debut. Times gardening correspondent Stephen Anderton explores the changing fashions in rock gardening, from the Northamptonshire landowner who wanted a landscape for his gnomes to the Yorkshireman who described his alpines as 'sulky' but who changed our view of the rockery. From April 2004."
 
This programme is available on i-player for the next 6 days. ( from 10th June 2014)
It features lots of well-known AGS/SRGC folks, such as John and Kate Page and Joan and Ron Beeston and mentions the AGS Pershore garden designed by Zdenek Zvolanek  .
Also interviewed is Nicola Shulman, author of "A Rage for Rock Gardening: The Story of Reginald Farrer, Gardener, Writer, and Plant Collector "  and she is  a little rude about the man honoured  by the AGS in their premier medal  :-X
If you are in the UK  you  can access this programme within  the next  6 days.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2016, 09:04:47 PM by Maggi Young »
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!


"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."

fermi de Sousa

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Re: GARDEN HISTORY
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2014, 01:20:55 PM »
Seems to work here as well, Maggi, ;D
at least on the iPad!
I can listen while scanning the Forum,
cheers
fermi
Mr Fermi de Sousa, Redesdale,
Victoria, Australia

Maggi Young

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Re: GARDEN HISTORY
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2014, 01:59:26 PM »
Seems to work here as well, Maggi, ;D
at least on the iPad!
I can listen while scanning the Forum,
cheers
fermi
  That's a pleasant surprise sincemost of the BBC stuff isn't available outside the UK - I hope that a great many members will therefore be able to enjoy the programme.
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!


"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."

Maggi Young

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Are Gardens Art? The Debate - at RHS Wisley 28th June
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2014, 05:33:42 PM »
FREE debate  ( with normal garden entry for non-members) at Arts Fest 2014. Booking recommended.  36 places.    Booking 0845 6121253
Location : The Yurt on Seven Acres
Saturday 28th June  1300 -1430 pm

Are Gardens Art? The Debate

"Get your debating hat on as we discuss whether gardens can really be seen as Art. With a panel of experts including a critic, a designer, a plantsperson and a philosopher, you will hear their views and arguments and will be able to contribute if you wish. This is a rare opportunity to hear from top-class horticultural minds, don't miss it! The debate panel is made up of: Andrew Wilson (Chair) - Award winning Garden Designer, lecturer and writer; Anne Wareham - Editor of ThinkinGardens, garden critic and creator of the garden at Veddw House. Anne is campaigning to have gardens returned to their place amongst the fine arts of British Culture; Kathryn Aalto - A professional garden designer, historian, writer and speaker. Kathryn is concerned with both strong, contemporary design and an analytical view of garden history; Dr. Noel Kingsbury - Garden writer, reader, lecturer and teacher. Noel is an occasional designer, concerned with naturalistic and sustainable planting design who makes decisions based on science and evidence; Professor David Cooper - Emeritus Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Durham. David is the author of A Philosophy of Gardens (2006) which discusses the position of gardens as art or nature. "
Booking is recommended but not essential.

Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!


"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."

Tim Ingram

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Re: GARDEN HISTORY
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2014, 06:27:55 PM »
Of course they are! Except when you are weeding.
Dr. Timothy John Ingram. Nurseryman & gardener with strong interest in plants of Mediterranean-type climates and dryland alpines. Garden in Kent, UK. www.coptonash.plus.com

 


Scottish Rock Garden Club is a Charity registered with Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR): SC000942