Edwardian (Horti)culture 3: Slinking out with a Spade

'Dorelia McNeill in the Garden at Alderney manor' by Augustus John, 1911 (National Museum, Wales)

‘Dorelia McNeill in the Garden at Alderney manor’ by Augustus John, 1911 (National Museum, Wales)

‘If I could only dig and plant myself! How much easier, besides being so fascinating, to make your own holes exactly where you want them and put in your plants exactly as you choose instead of giving orders that can only be half understood from the moment you depart from the lines laid down by that long piece of string! In the first ecstasy of having a garden all my own, and in my burning impatience to make the waste places blossom like a rose, I did one warm Sunday in last year’s April during the servants’ dinner hour, doubly secure from the gardener by the day and the dinner, slink out with a spade and a rake and feverishly dig a little piece of ground and break it up and sow surreptitious ipomæa and run back very hot and guilty into the house and get into a chair and behind and book and look languid just in time to save my reputation’ (Elizabeth Von Arnim, Elizabeth and Her German Garden, 1898)

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