Tag Archives: Edwardian Horticulture

Edwardian (Horticulture) 12: Dream Gardens

‘Nude in a Garden’ by Frederick Cayley Robinson, c.1895 (National Museums, Liverpool)

‘One of the most exquisite of Mrs. Browning’s poems is The Lost Bower; it is endeared to me because it expresses so fully a childish bereavement of my own, for I have lost a garden. I saw this beautiful garden, filled with radiant blossoms, rich with fruits and berries, set with beehives, rabbit hutches, and a dovecote, and enclosed about with hedges; and through it ran a purling brook – a thing I ever longer for in my home garden. All one happy summer afternoon I played in it, and gathered from its beds and borders at will – and I have never seen it since. When I was still a child I used to ask to return to it, but no one seemed to understand; and when I was grown I asked where it was, describing it in every detail, and the only answer was that it was a dream, I had never seen and played in such a garden’ (Mrs Alice Morse Earle, Old-Time Gardens, 1901).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 10: Malignent Magentas

'The Blue Butterflies' by William Nicholson, 1913 (The National Trust)

‘The Blue Butterflies’ by William Nicholson, 1913 (The National Trust)

‘I am always surprised at the vague, not to say reckless, fashion in which garden folk set to work to describe the colours of flowers, and at the way in which quite wrong colours are attributed to them. […] Nothing is more frequent in plant catalogues than ‘bright golden yellow’, when bright yellow is meant. Gold is not bring yellow. […] Another example of the same slip-slop is the term flame coloured, and it is often preceded by the word gorgeous. This contradictory mixture of terms is generally used to mean bright scarlet. When I look at a flame, whether of fire or candle, I see that the colour is a rather pale yellow, with a reddish tinge about its upper forks, and side wings often a bluish white – no scarlet anywhere. […] crimson is a word to beware of; it covers such a wide extent of ground, and is used to carelessly in plant catalogues, that one cannot know whether it stands for a rich blood colour or for a malignant magenta’ (Gertrude Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 1899).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 9: The Dahlia’s Duty

Adrian Allinson, 'Dahlias' (Salford)

Adrian Allinson, ‘Dahlias’ (Salford)

‘The Dahlia’s first duty in life is to flaunt and to swagger and to carry gorgeous blooms well above its leaves, and on no account to hang its head’ (Gertrude Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 1899).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 8: The Rebellious Gardener

'The Gardener's Daughter' by Charles Conder, 1902-3 (Manchester City Galleries)

‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ by Charles Conder, 1902-3 (Manchester City Galleries)

‘How I loathe being ill! How I fight it, rebel against it, garden up to the very last moment and get up tottering to go out and replant the violet bed’ (Mrs Leslie Williams, A Garden in the Suburbs, 1901).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 7: Exercising the Imagination and Assessing the Competition

'Bar House Garden, Beverley' by Frederick William Elwell, 1914 (Beverley Art Gallery)

‘Bar House Garden, Beverley’ by Frederick William Elwell, 1914 (Beverley Art Gallery)

‘Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination. You are always living three, or indeed six, months hence. I believe that people entirely devoid of imagination never can be really good gardeners. To be content with the present, and not striving about the future, is fatal’

‘When looking through old books or modern catalogues, one feels one has nothing in one’s garden, but I must confess that visiting other people’s gardens makes me feel I really have a very fair collection’ (Mrs C. W. Earle, Pot-Pourri From a Surrey Garden, 1897).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 6: Depression and Disappointment

'A View from the Window at 6 Cambrian Road, Richmond' by Spencer Gore (The Fitzwilliam Museum)

‘A View from the Window at 6 Cambrian Road, Richmond’ by Spencer Gore (The Fitzwilliam Museum)

‘You must not, any of you, be surprised if you have moments in your gardening life of such profound depression and disappointment that you will almost wish you had been content to leave everything alone and have no garden at all’ (Mrs C. W. Earle, Pot-Pourri From a Surrey Garden, 1897).

Edwardian (Horti)culture 5: Beware the Iron Bench

Queen Victoria in the Garden, c.1898

Queen Victoria in the Garden, c.1898

‘It is with real sorrow that we see so many survivals of an era of not particularly good taste, in the shape of iron benches. It is their undoubted durability which has preserved them, and we who try to rest upon them are the sufferers, not only for their unpleasing appearance, but from the ill-chosen formation of the back. […] They are shaped so that neither by stooping forward nor by reclining absolutely at full length can comfort be obtained. Let us stretch our limbs again in freedom […]’ (Viscountess Frances Wolseley, Gardens, Their Form and Design, 1919).