The English and Gardening by Danny Wells

For our meeting on 5th September 2017 Danny gave us a thorough and interesting historical overview of gardening through the ages.  He covered the impact of various famous landscapers from the 18th to 20th centuries.  A summary of Danny’s presentation follows below.

Monasteries were initially very important providing all food, flowers and herbal remedies to the Monks.  It was interesting to learn that the Romans were very influential by introducing apple, cherry and plum trees amongst many other plants to England.  Up to the 16th Century English gardens were seen as places for meditation and contemplation and therefore tended to have sundials, funeral urns and antique furniture within.

During the Georgian period Lancelot Capability Brown was extremely influential as a landscape artist and he redesigned the very famous gardens at Chatsworth house making them far less formal and more in tune with nature.  Stowe and Longleat are also great examples of Georgian designed gardens.

During the Victorian era James Bateman was a huge influence and over 16 years and with the help of his friend Edward William Cooke he developed the gardens at Biddulph Grange.  There were many themes from Chinese to Egyptian which reflected the very eclectic style as overseas travel became much more common for the better off.  John Claudius Loudon, a Scottish botanist, gardener and cemetery designer was the first to use the term Arboretum.  He went on to create the arboretum at Derby.  He believed the various classes should mix, and he formed this space where they could coexist.  This change in times also lead to an expectation that schools, cemeteries etc all required gardens of their own.

The Edwardian period was a time where gardens were seen as a place of innocence.  Kipling was inspired to write one of his famous poems “The Glory of the Garden”.  A beautiful poem indeed.  Many children’s books were written with a gardening theme, e.g “The Secret Garden” to name just one.  The influence of gardens showed through in  name choices of the time such as Daisy, Violet, Primrose and many others.

Danny completed his talk with a brief overview of more modern times.

As World War 1 arrives there is a national striving for home grown food, and allotments become popular.  During the 1930’s white gardens become all the rage to symbolise hope and resolution.  However this is short lived as World War 2 begins and the drive again for allotments and the dig for victory campaign take off.

We look forward to another talk shortly from Danny regarding Joseph Paxton the garden genius and designer of Crystal Palace.

A big thank you to Danny for his very informative presentation. It certainly helps to bring an even deeper appreciation when visiting various gardens throughout England.   phone 01335 350536