October 2013 Issue 29
HERITAGE OF THE DEEP SOUTH PROTECTING ATLANTA’S GARDENS
LOOKING FOR MONSIEUR LAINÉ
RESTORING A FORGOTTEN DESIGNER’S REPUTATION
THE VOICE OF HISTORIC PARKS AND GARDENS WORLDWIDE
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HISTORIC GARDENS R e v i e w
Issue 29 October 2013
Features 6 The Cream of Jersey Gardens by Sarah Rutherford How gardeners in the largest of the Channel Islands have been inspired by the ‘genius of the place’.
11 Looking for Monsieur Lainé by Jill Sinclair The reputation of an important French designer is being restored.
16 Botanical Sleuths Keep Georgia Gardens on the Right Path by Bob Kelley Modern-day Miss Marples explore the US state to document its living history.
20 Conservation not Confrontation by Richard Mawrey Spain spearheads a movement towards a new appreciation of Islam’s horticultural heritage.
24 The Historic Gardens of Alcatraz by Jenny Randall Best known for its fearsome prison, Alcatraz is also home to some beautiful gardens.
Regulars 2 Viewpoint 3 News and Views 29 Letters 30 Anniversary by Gillian Mawrey Kensington Roof Gardens, way above London’s rooftops, celebrated their 75th birthday this year.
32 Book & Garden Reviews 44 Optimist & Pessimist Good and Bad reports from all over the world.
48 How to Subscribe And other information.
24 Issue 29
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HISTORIC GARDENS R e v i e w
Historic Gardens Review is published twice a year by
How Far in 100 Years?
ooking back a century, 1913 was a very good year for heritage conservation. In France the Loi du 31 décembre 1913 sur les monuments historiques completely reorganised the classiﬁcation and protection of heritage sites, and still forms the basis of French conservation legislation. In the UK, the Ancient Monuments Act 1913 revolutionised heritage protection; it introduced a listing system and enabled the government to acquire threatened properties (by compulsory purchase if necessary) and to manage historic sites. Although these anniversaries have been fêted in both countries, has 2013 been as good for historic sites? And are gardens yet properly on the heritage agenda? In the UK there have been some positive steps. In June it was announced that English Heritage was to be split in two. Its portfolio of 420 historic properties, including many important gardens, such as Osborne House (above), Kenwood House and Audley End, will be handed over to a new non-proﬁt organisation which will manage them and retain the name English Heritage, while a separate body will be set up do the other half of EH’s current job as regulator of listed sites owned by other organisations and individuals. The new arrangements, which will make both EH’s and the regulator’s roles less awkward, have been welcomed, particularly the £80m grant for repairs obtained by Simon Thurley, head of EH for the past decade. On the other hand, when celebrating the 1913 Act in a book and a television series, Men from the Ministry, Dr Thurley made virtually no mention of any historic park or garden saved by the scheme (though many were). It seems that from an oﬃcial perspective, gardens are no more than an irrelevant add-on to the historic buildings in their protective care. For parks and gardens in general and outside England, it has not been a good time. Almost everywhere, public funding for historic gardens has diminished, or even dried up, while insensitive development permissions (especially for wind farms) endanger historic sites. A glance at our Pessimist columns over the past few years will bear out that the battle for historic parks and gardens is long and hard – and governments are too often our foes rather than our friends. One wonders how many will survive to 2113.
Gillian Mawrey 2
THE HISTORIC GARDENS FOUNDATION This independent not-for-profit organisation works to support historic parks and gardens across the world. It campaigns for high standards of conservation and on behalf of sites that are threatened by development or neglect. 34 River Court, Upper Ground, London SE1 9PE, UK. TEL: +44 (0)20 7633 9165 REGISTERED CHARITY No 1044723 REGISTERED COMPANY No 3024664 ISSN 1461-0191
Gillian Mawrey Janet Ravenscroft www.historicgardens.org oﬃce@historicgardens.org
e Lavenham Press Ltd., Arbons House, 47 Water Street, Lavenham, Suﬀolk, CO10 9RN.
The garden at Oakton in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by bob Kelley. See pages 20-23.)
News and Tea Ceremony by the Lake To celebrate their 30 years of ownership of Hever Castle in Kent, the Guthrie family have just rebuilt the Japanese Tea House on the edge of the lake. Originally constructed as an eye-catcher, the tea house was just one aspect of the magniﬁcent gardens created for William Waldorf Astor in the ﬁrst decade of the 20th century. The folly fell into disrepair and was knocked down during the Second World War so that the prominent site could be used for a pill-box, one of the fortiﬁed structures built all over the English countryside in case of invasion. The pill-box is now itself a listed monument (just visible on the right of the picture), and so the tea house had to be rebuilt a few metres nearer the water than it used to be – but, as the surrounding trees have matured, in fact it shows up better than on the old site. The Japanese Tea House was built in English oak, some of it harvested from the Hever estate, and formally opened by author and television gardener, Monty Don, who did more than just cut the ribbon. He took part in a lively question-and-answer session with the guests, made a
passionate speech for better recognition of gardening as a profession, and then went round the gardens with Hever’s gardening team, answering their questions. Hever’s gardens are lovely all through the year, and are well worth a visit. If you’re feeling very prosperous, the Japanese Tea House can be hired for a candlelit dinner, with travel by steam launch across the lake. For details see www.hevercastle.co.uk. Gillian Mawrey
No Need to be Blue Now Laid out over 30 years from 1925, Naumkeag in Massachusetts is one of the most famous gardens in the United States In addition to the iconic Blue Steps, designed by Fletcher Steele, it contains a Chinese Garden and an ‘Afternoon Garden’ where clipped box hedges are set off by multi-coloured Venetian gondola mooring poles. But popularity, combined with often harsh winters, took considerable toll. A restoration programme was clearly needed. The garden is managed by the non-proﬁt Trustees of Reservations who started a campaign to raise funds. An anonymous donor came forward in 2012 to offer $1m provided the Trustees raised a similar sum, which they did. By August 2013 Phase 1 of what is likely to be a threeyear $3m restoration plan was complete. The water features and the gondola poles have been restored and the view and path of the Linden Allee expanded and restored. Nearly 200 trees have been cleared, a stone wall near the Chinese pagoda on the south lawn restructured, and the original vista and landscape proﬁle restored to match the curves of Bear Mountain.
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Above all, the stone and cedar work for the Blue Steps was repaired and repainted and 49 birch trees planted to ﬁll out the grove which surrounds the staircase. The photograph shows the work in progress. 3
News and Bears and Roses The Federation of German Landscape Architects (Bund Deutscher Landschaftsarchitekten) has passed through some diﬃcult political weather since it was founded in 1913. To mark its centenary the BDLA has organised a series of walks and events in 100 places across Germany that have been shaped by landscape architects over the past century – round Hamburg City Park, for instance, one of the earliest examples of a ‘People’s Park’ in Germany, which is currently being restored in readiness for its own centenary in 2014. See http://www.bdla.de/hamburg for details. A German garden marking its centenary this year is the Rose Garden in Forst (pictured). The garden’s origins lay in a ﬂower show to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Kaiser Wilhelm II, after which the roses were bought by the city to become a permanent display. The garden was almost destroyed in 1945 and the land was then used for growing vegetables; but 20,000 roses were blooming again by 1953 and the whole site has now been restored.
A Green Thought
In recognition of Forst’s commitment to the rose garden, in July the city’s mayor was presented with the prestigious Lenné medal. See http://www.rosengarten-forst.de/
The ﬁrst green theatres were created in Italy in the 16th century. They had seats of stone with a stone or grass stage, but they differed from the antique amphitheatres that were their ancestors by having a backdrop of box or yew, often clipped into architectural shapes and ornamented with statuary. A teatro di verdura or théâtre de verdure could be simply a show-off element in a grand garden but was usually intended for real performances of plays or operas. There is a wonderful late 18th-century example – the largest in Italy – at the Villa Rizzardi at Negrar in the Veneto (pictured left). The tradition continues to this day. Baroque music conductor William Christie has added a théâtre de verdure to his brilliant garden at Thiré in western France and holds concerts there in the summer. A network has recently been set up to link green theatres all over the world and offer publicity for the events that take place in them. See http://www.reseautheatreverdure.com which has also started a list of green theatres. So far 63 have been identiﬁed in France and 40 elsewhere. Full marks to French private owners’ association La Demeure Historique which has been instrumental in pushing this idea forward. HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Cool Gardens Conserved Following Rory Stuart’s fascinating article on the Mughal gardens in Kashmir (HGR 28), I am delighted to report that the restoration work he described at Achabal Bagh is extending to several other historic gardens in the area. The government of Jammu and Kashmir has allocated some 12 crore (about £1.5m) to an ambitious programme that includes repair and restoration of water channels, pools and fountains, a hammam, gateways, pavilions and other architectural features at the six key gardens: Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh, Chasma Shahi, Peri Mahal, Verinag and Achabal Bagh. The work is being carried out by Kashmir’s Department of Floriculture with assistance from the local chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. Initial research and survey work on the gardens began in 2004, with Dr Jan Haenraets, an expert on the conservation of historic landscapes, being brought in to help with the conservation management plan and advise on the horticultural and soft landscape aspects in 2010. One of the big successes of the work to date is that the six gardens have been added as a serial nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, the ﬁrst step towards full World Heritage status. On a visit in May this year, I saw signiﬁcant work underway in the Shalimar Bagh, probably the most historically important of these Kashmir gardens. The water channel and fountains on the lower terrace were fully operational, and the channels and pools had been dug out ready for restoration work on the higher terraces. At nearby Nishat Bagh, the terraces cut dramatically into the hillside are again brought to life by the restored axial channel, with its rushing chadars (water chutes) and elegant fountains. The gardens are run as historic public parks and both Shalimar and Nishat Bagh were packed during my visit with people enjoying the majestic oriental plane trees, lawns, ﬂowers and cooling water features. Such local enthusiasm for the gardens must generally be a good thing, but Dr Haenraets says that one of the many challenges for the restoration work is the extensive wear and tear from visitor pressure. (You can see the poor, compacted state of the lawns in the top photograph.) In addition, the central water channels are the only areas really treated as historically important, which means that other existing historic elements within the garden walls are less maintained, and at risk from inappropriate development, while missing features (such as the many orchards which once adorned the terraces) are not being restored. The areas beyond the garden are also signiﬁcant but overlooked, and at high risk.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Top: View from a terrace at Nishat, clearly showing the worn grass. Middle: e restored fountains at the entrance to the Shalimar gardens. Bottom: Workmen restoring the chadar at Shalimar.
Dr Haenraets believes that the state of the gardens has largely been stabilised, and he now wants to see good practice in conservation informing their future management, with hopes for archaeological work, conservation propagation, interpretation, conservation skills training, restoration planting schemes and buffer zone protection. It is certainly heartening to know that these beautiful Mughal gardens are starting to be treasured again for their irreplaceable historical and æsthetic values. Jill Sinclair 5
The Cream of Jersey Gardens By Sarah Rutherford
How gardeners in the largest of the Channel Islands have been inspired by the ‘genius of the place’.
ersey is an island of diverse and fascinating gardens and horticulture, not just Jersey Royals, tomatoes and daffodils, as we tend to think. It is an island of many beautiful historic gardens in a very small space. Some are well known, others are enigmatic. Many are in pristine condition, a few are less so, but still of high historic value for their design and planting. This diversity and value became evident after Jersey Heritage and the States of Jersey, the island’s elected governing body, in 2012 commissioned the author to prepare a list of notable Jersey historic designed landscapes. The list was to inform development-related change on the island, which being so small (14.5km/9 miles west to east by 8km/5 miles north to south, with 90,000 inhabitants) and such a prestigious place to live, is under much pressure for change. A preliminary list of over 60 sites was identiﬁed with the help of Jersey Heritage staff, and invaluable historic information at the Jersey Archive and Société Jersiaise library, and advice from members of the 6
Société’s Garden History Section. These included sites of public and private origin and ownership, from which some of the historic fashions and highlights of the privately created gardens are discussed below. Several factors combined uniquely to inﬂuence Jersey’s gardens. Most obviously and well-known, it is a natural suntrap. The land slopes down from cliffs in the north to St Aubin’s Bay in the south and enjoys an equable maritime climate that is inspiring for the gardener as it enables more tender plants to be grown (notwithstanding the extraordinary snowfall in March this year). However, the normally favourable situation and climate are tempered by exposure to the open sea to the west, which results in damaging strong winds and gales which must somehow be mitigated. Less well-known but as inﬂuential is that its political history meant that the garden styles of Jersey follow those of the UK rather than the geographically much closer France. It is the largest of the Channel Islands, which lie close to the coast of HISTORIC GARDENS Review
The Cream of Jersey Gardens Normandy. It is oﬃcially the Bailiwick of Jersey, a British Crown Dependency which has been self-governing since the 13th century. It is not part of the United Kingdom, but has been ruled by the British monarch since 1066. The topography is enlivened by many steep cliffs and valley slopes. These were ideal for landscape design with sensibilities of the Picturesque (scenery suitable for painting: irregular, varied and often spectacular) and Sublime (the wild and terrifying extremity of the Picturesque). The sheltered microclimates allow for tender and exotic plants in variety and, in the case of watered valleys, for the creation of a very few prestigious ornamental sheets of water. This valleyed canvas is ideal for woodland planting, which is also a prerequisite for Picturesque landscapes, and helps to establish a more reliable microclimate for otherwise dubiously hardy plants. Thanks to the mild climate and the acid soil, a wide range of semi-tender and calcifuge plants can be grown. This is set against the prevailing impenetrable granite under much of the island’s acid soils, which is not the most conducive to lush growth. However, in parts of the island such as Rozel Valley this gives way to the acidic conglomerate, also called pudding stone, which allows better penetration of roots and lusher growth where the climate is kind. Richmond’s map of Jersey (1795) showed that by the end of the 18th century there were few gardens of any extent on the island. Over the previous two to three centuries various manor house gardens are recorded with notable plants and layouts, perhaps with small walled forecourts and garden enclosures. Some gardens had pretensions to wider fashions. The renowned garden of Samares Manor ﬁrst came to notice when the Seigneur, Phillip Dumaresque, wrote to his friend John Evelyn to tell him that he had planted a score of cypresses from France and some borders of phillyrea. In 1685 Phillip had dug a canal half a kilometre (1⁄4 mile) long to drain part of his land and probably also as a fashionable garden feature. However, this was exceptional, as the major landscaping trends that occurred in the UK in the 17th and 18th centuries largely passed the island by, probably because of the fragmented land ownership and continued vulnerability of the island to invasion from France until the mid-19th century. No major formal gardens of the type typiﬁed by the work of Charles Bridgeman, or naturalistic landscape parks, of the sort laid out by Lancelot Brown, were attempted it seems. Not until the 19th century did fashionable landscape design really ﬂourish in Jersey. Political and economic factors including the containment of the military threat after the Napoleonic Wars (1803–15) and the inﬂux of wealth from cod ﬁshing and other industries led to the greatest alteration of land patterns to create substantial designed landscapes. Contemporary fashions prevailing in the UK were adopted
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with enthusiasm, even if they had to be adapted to local circumstances. The naturalistic landscape park, the Picturesque valleys and cliffsides, the large detached villa landscapes popular in the early 19th century were all embraced. Ambitions were limited only by the extent of land available under single ownership. The largest 19th-century grounds were associated with manor houses, often designed alongside the remodelling of the houses and gardens of longstanding. Rozel Manor, extolled as a ﬁne garden since the 15th century, has the best landscape park, including two sweeping drives from lodges, and belts of trees and copses enclosing extensive gardens and pleasure grounds near the house. St Ouen’s Manor was ‘improved’ in true 18th-century landscaping spirit when the public road was moved in the 19th century and the old route was landscaped and embellished by the most ﬂamboyant gatehouse in Jersey. The new parallel public road outside the grounds was planted with an avenue (a rare thing on Jersey) and is still known by the family as the bypass. St Ouen’s also has its ‘moat’: a broad sheet of water overlooked by the manor house, leading down to a valley and a former woodland garden.
Opposite and above: The Japanese Garden at Samares Manor, St Clements, was laid out by Edward White in the 1920s and 1930s as one of several different themed areas.
The Cream of Jersey Gardens The manor houses and villas often had walled kitchen gardens, many of which survive. Extensive formal layouts are rare. The most impressive is Reginald Blomﬁeld’s Arts and Crafts period scheme at Trinity Manor, laid out around 1910 to 1913 to complement his remodelled manor house, and the great medieval military-style 19th-century terraces and bastions below St Ouen’s Manor house, stepping down to the moat. The formal lines and architectural nature of these are leavened by informal garden and pleasure ground areas. Samares Manor is less formal and less of a set piece than Trinity Manor, but is one of the most extensive and complex gardens in Jersey. Its gardens are on level ground on the south coast, formerly salt marshes, and were extended and embellished to designs by the important early to mid-20thcentury landscape architect Edward White for Sir James Knott, the owner in the 1920s and 1930s who employed 40 gardeners. The early 19th century saw the rise of the genteel villa and urban terrace in the UK. In Jersey, villas were built on new sites, or farmhouses and manor houses might be remodelled. They required a suitable setting for the ‘polite’ architecture (which was fashionable and ornamental, rather than the local vernacular) and to provide outdoor space for the family. The so-called ‘cod house’, usually funded by wealth from the cod ﬁshing industry, was a highly ornamented villa of some size. The new houses boasted grand gateways, sometimes lodges, one or more sweeping drives, lawns, woodland walks, and – if possible – a sheet of water and walled kitchen garden. In St Helier, fashionable terraces were built from the 1820s through the century as the town developed from a ﬁshing port into a seaside resort, much like the developments of Cheltenham and other spa towns which included integral communal gardens and squares. Sometimes they just had a shrubbery screen with a few specimen trees to avert the gaze from the public road beyond the individual gardens and communal drive. Others had a communal garden of modest size beyond a forecourt, such as the spectacularly sited Almorah Crescent above the town. The Picturesque landscape movement in Jersey began in the early 19th century, probably with Princes Tower on Hougue Bie. It was a ﬁne example of a small but complex pleasure ground layout with diverse planting for an eccentric pleasure 8
Above: St Ouen’s Manor, with its great 19th-century bastion and terrace that dominate the ‘moat’. Below: Almorah Crescent soon after it was built. It was the most spectacularly sited of St Helier’s Regency terraces with a private communal lawn in front. Courtesy of Société Jersiaise.
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The Cream of Jersey Gardens pavilion incorporating a medieval chapel. The Tower perched in its precarious position, with an irregular eye-catching Gothic outline, on top of the renowned 12-metre (391⁄2ft) high earth mound is now visited as one of the best preserved examples of a Neolithic remnant in Western Europe. Also in the early 19th century, Noirmont Manor in the south-west of the island was remodelled and the cliffs ﬂanking the house were laid out as Picturesque ornamental woodland. Unique to Jersey was the kilometre-long marine drive, laid out by 1795, which linked the village of St Aubin’s to the manor through the woodland, along a largely level contour. Spectacular framed views of the great St Aubin’s Bay were important and it is reminiscent of similar scenic estate drives in Devon and Cornwall, such as Humphry Repton’s early 19th-century Endsleigh for the Duke of Bedford, overlooking the River Tamar and enlivened by Picturesque woodland and buildings. The most dramatic landscapes perched high above the steep cliff coastline, using the setting to frame views in late 18th- early 19th-century Picturesque manner, and to instil a frisson of fear, in Sublime style. Perhaps the most spectacular cliffside landscape surrounded the Rockmount des Moustiers pleasure pavilion on Jardin d’Olivet, at the precarious edge of the north coast in the late 1850s. Despite its relatively late origin, this ﬁne, if neglected, example is complex and substantial in design. It is Sublime in character, exploiting to good effect the frisson of the sheer drop. The outline of the original two-towered Gothic pavilion at the edge of the cliff must have been as dramatic on the skyline as that of Princes Tower at Hougue Bie. It stood in a garden plateau with the taller of the towers above the drop. Nearby an open gazebo (or panorama) had eight Gothic arches, each framing a different view. Two little Gothic viewing towers stand, less precariously, behind the pleasure pavilion. One is circular and the other square with turrets, enjoying the elevated marine view and the distant French coast. Like Rockmount, the contemporary Victoria College has a sequence of Picturesque cliffside walks stepping down a steep drop. More of these subtle and easily missed Picturesque, and perhaps Sublime, layouts doubtless remain to be rediscovered. Nurseries ﬂourished in Jersey in the 19th century, including those producing exotic varieties, and some important plant collections had ornamental settings. Two extensive and spectacular sites were laid out to grow particular plants and display them to greatest effect. The best known is the great plantsman Samuel Curtis’s La Chaire (now a hotel), laid out by him in 20 years during the 1840s and 1850s, with an extensive and complex ornamental design of terraces and viewpoints, exploiting the topography
Above: Princes Tower on Hougue Bie and the Picturesque pleasure ground was a place of resort for tourists. Courtesy of Société Jersiaise.
Right: Rockmount des Moustiers, Trinity. Two of the diminutive mid 19th-century follies grouped around the towers of the pleasure pavilion perched high above Bouley Bay on the north coast.
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The Cream of Jersey Gardens and maritime position. It was developed and further planted by his daughter during the rest of the century. Curtis intended to grow many tender plants from all over the world in the sheltered coastal microclimate, taking advantage of the conglomerate substrate, which he identiﬁed as more conducive to plant growth than granite. Little of the 19thcentury planting survives except for one or two large exotic trees including a magniﬁcent tree magnolia (Magnolia campbellii) and a handkerchief tree (Davidia involucrata), and the structure is crumbling in places. La Hague is an inland site whose two deep valleys below the lawns of the manor house were laid out with paths and planted in the later 19th century. An extraordinary range of exotic trees and shrubs survive in a Himalayan-type scene, although the understorey is now impenetrable in places. Another inland site with an extensive plant collection is the zoo. In the 1960s and 1970s the existing Les Augres manor site was laid out for the naturalist Gerald Durrell with large animal enclosures and paddocks set in lawns and shrubberies. A landscape committee comprising the most expert island residents (including the renowned garden writer of the 1960s and 1970s, Arthur Hellyer), devised a planting scheme with a great variety of exotics. Initially it was hoped to surround the paddocks of animals with plants from the relevant parts of the world. Although this proved impractical to continue, the zoo still boasts a notable range of mature trees and shrubs. In the 1950s and 1960s an inﬂux of knowledgeable new owners acquired properties all over the island, some having made gardens previously in the UK. Many new and substantial privately owned gardens of great taste and plantsmanship were laid out and many have been opened to the public over the years. Some gardens had a stronger framework than others, but the standard of artistry with plants was exceptional. As a group, these mid-20th-century gardens (including Le Cos du Chemin, Le Coin, Montpellier, Les Vaux and Domaine des Vaux) are special for their expert use of tender plants that thrive in the balmy maritime climate. The climate is ideal for camellias and the collection of varieties on Jersey must be one of the best in such a small area, supported by a strong local group of the International Camellia Society. Other calcifuge shrubs including rhododendrons and magnolias are extensively planted in variety, but many gardens have other rarities too. Over the centuries Jersey designers clearly consulted the ‘genius of the place’. They responded with aplomb to the climate and topography of the island, maximising the creative opportunities throughout the island. Although Jersey parks and gardens have many similarities with those of the UK, Jersey is surely unique in the number of ﬁne historic gardens with imaginative designs and expert planting in such a small area. 10
Above: Samuel Curtis’s 19th-century La Chaire garden has many steps and terraces that rise to a spectacular viewing platform with the narrow leafy Rozel Valley in one direction and Rozel Harbour in the other.
Dr Sarah Rutherford is a Kew-trained horticulturist who was Head of the English Heritage Historic Parks and Gardens Register. She is now an historic environment consultant, mainly writing conservation plans and statements of significance. Her latest book is Arts and Crafts Gardens (Oxford: Shire, 2013).
Several of the gardens reviewed here are open to the public. Please visit individual websites for opening times and other details. Château La Chaire, Rozelle Harbour (hotel) http://chateau-la-chaire.co.uk/ Durrell (Jersey Zoo), Trinity http://www.durrell.org/ Hougue Bie, Grouville http://www.jerseyheritage.org/places-to-visit/ la-hougue-bie-museum Howard Davies Park, St Helier: open every day Radier Manor (hotel) http://www.radiermanor.com/home.htm Samares Manor, St Clements http://www.samaresmanor.com The Elms, St Mary’s (National Trust for Jersey) http://www.nationaltrust.je/place/the-elms/ More Open Gardens are listed at http://www.jersey.com/english/sightsandactivities/naturalenvironment/pages/open-gardens.aspx
The Glory of the Garden, A Jersey selection, compiled by the Garden History Section of the Société Jersiaise, published by the Société Jersiaise, in late 2013. Contact www.societe-jersiaise.org/
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Looking for Monsieur Lainé By Jill Sinclair
The reputation of an important French designer is being restored.
hen he died in 1911, an obituary described Elie Lainé as ‘the celebrated Parisian landscape architect.’ He had laid out the exceptional grounds at Waddesdon Manor in the southeast of England, restored Le Nôtre’s exquisite ﬁrst gardens at Vaux le Vicomte, and transformed several Belgian towns as the designer of choice for King Léopold II. His long-term reputation seemed assured. Yet today, a century later, Lainé’s name is largely forgotten. French sources often describe him as méconnu, or littleknown. The story of his life has slipped into the shadows. No dedicated book or even article has been written about him, and little recent investigation carried out. This article is the ﬁrst outcome of a major piece of research on Lainé. Lainé was born in 1829 in Brain-sur-l’Authion, a village in France’s Loire Valley. The land was fertile, and Brain was wellknown for its market gardens, nurseries and seed production, as well as its summer fair, when barges would arrive along the river from dawn onwards, crammed with farm equipment and tools for sale. Almost all of Lainé’s family, including both his parents, described themselves as cultivateurs, probably peasant smallholders. As the oldest surviving son of nine children, he no doubt grew up learning something of his parents’ skills on the land. By 1856, Lainé was living in the neighbouring town of Angers, and working as a jardinier. For almost 20 years this seemingly unremarkable gardener from rural farming stock then slips from the records, before reappearing in his mid-forties as an established landscape
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
architect, simultaneously leading work on two highly signiﬁcant projects. Clearly he must have developed his skills and his reputation in the intervening years, but the only clue so far is a brief reference that places him, aged about 40, in Marseille. He was, perhaps surprisingly, living at the Château de Borély, a grand house on the seafront that had been acquired by the city in 1860. It is tempting to imagine that Lainé was there to work on the adjacent Parc Borély, which was being created by Alphand and Barillet-Deschamps, the two doyens of Paris park design. Whatever his reasons for being in Marseille, it was after this sojourn in the south of France that Lainé came to prominence. Around 1875 he began work at Waddesdon Manor, today one of the most visited National Trust properties and having perhaps the ﬁnest Victorian garden in England. Waddesdon was created for Ferdinand de Rothschild, a member of the banking family, who commissioned the Parisian architect Hippolyte Destailleur to build a grand house in the style of a French Renaissance château. After Rothschild’s ﬁrst choice of landscape designer declined the work, Lainé was ‘bidden to make designs for the terraces, the principal roads and plantations,’ probably nominated for the role by his compatriot Destailleur. It remains unclear how the eminent architect knew Lainé, for whom this appears to be the ﬁrst major commission. Lainé led the work on what Rothschild later described as ‘the chief outlines’ of the park. It was a mammoth task. With London engineer George Alexander he oversaw teams of 11
Looking for Monsieur Lainé men who, with wheelbarrows and shovels, removed around 2.7 metres of earth (9 feet) to level a bare hilltop, and create gently undulating grounds and a pattern of curving carriage drives. Enormous, mature trees were brought in, including elms, oaks, chestnuts, limes and beech. In February 1875 Rothschild noted that he was ‘pleased with the plantations but appalled at the amount of work which has to be got through . . . . It is not better than a wilderness and a quagmire at present.’ Although no plans survive that show Lainé’s exact contribution at Waddesdon, it was clearly substantial: the Rothschild account books show payments to Lainé from at least February 1876 to January 1887 and, some years later, Rothschild was to note that, ‘of M. Lainé I have nothing to say but praise.’ Lainé worked with Destailleur on another exceptional project in the mid-1870s, at Vaux le Vicomte, south of Paris. The exquisite mid-17th century château with its Le Nôtre gardens (the inspiration for Versailles) had fallen into disrepair and was saved from probable demolition by the industrialist Alfred Sommier, who appointed Destailleur to restore the château, while Lainé led the reclamation of Le
Previous page: The Parc de Woluwé. Photo: Val Choko. Above: Vaux and its gardens c1894-98; the restored cascades are at the forefront of the image. From an album of photographs in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Below: The same view of Vaux today. Photo: Jill Sinclair.
Nôtre’s gardens. Sadly no plans or letters have been found from the 1870s or 1880s that document his work, but the restoration was suﬃciently well known by 1897 for the French national horticultural society to note the achievements of Sommier ‘who, with the help of our landscape architect colleague Mr Lainé, set out to return the estate to its former glory.’ As with the creation of Waddesdon, the restoration of Vaux was a major engineering project, with many miles of pipe laid to restore 20 of the water features, and a rail network established to allow wagons to bring soil, stone and mortar into the gardens. As one example of the scale of the work, Lainé raised the level of the whole garden by 20cm (8 inches) to allow room for new topsoil. The young American designer Beatrix Jones (later Farrand) visited Vaux in 1905. She noted the beauty of the terraces, fountains and wide walks of the gardens, how wellkept and bright were the ﬂowers, fountains and marble, and explicitly listed the many features that had recently been restored. These included the two central fountains, the canal, the grotto, the Hercules ﬁgure on the hill, and the great cascade that, she wrote, ‘has been entirely and most accurately reconstructed from old drawings.’ Although the famous designer Achille Duchêne is more closely associated today with the restoration of Vaux’s gardens, his contribution came later and was limited to the parterres: photographs from before his 1911 involvement conﬁrm how much Lainé achieved. By 1879 Lainé was living in Paris, at 36 avenue de Châtillon in the bohemian 14th arrondissement, and describing himself in professional directories as an architectepaysagiste (landscape architect). His studio was at the same address for at least the next 19 years and, judging from information on later plans and letters, his professional base remained in Paris throughout the rest of his career, even when subsequently working full-time for the king of Belgium.
Above: Detail from a perspective plan of the jardins français du parc de Tervuren, 1893, attributed to Lainé. Courtesy Royal Archives, Brussels. Left: The gardens at Tervuren. Photo: Tourismus Flandern-Brüssel.
Despite being based in the French capital, he maintained strong links with his home town and, around 1886, bought a large plot of land in Brain-sur-l’Authion, where he designed for himself a ﬁne country house (maison de maître) with six bedrooms, a courtyard, garden, outbuildings and farmland. Clearly his clients were paying him well. The link with the Rothschilds was certainly to prove proﬁtable for Lainé. From 1881, he worked on the grounds of the Château d’Armainvilliers in Seine-et-Marne (very close to Vaux) for Baron Edmond de Rothschild, the cousin of Ferdinand at Waddesdon. Armainvilliers was an unusual château, designed by Felix Langlais to look like a row of higgledy-piggledy cottages, growing new wings and features over a period of some years. Again, frustratingly, no known plans have survived of Lainé’s work at Armainvilliers, but early photographs show he created a magniﬁcent naturalistic park which ran right up to the house, with expanses of lawn scattered with sheep and cows, 100 hectares (250 acres) of lakes, and clumps of mature trees, including exotic sequoias and local poplars. Armainvilliers was described by its head gardener as ‘a prestigious arboretum’. The family remembers the park as luxurious, even by Rothschild standards, and Edmond employed some 40 men to care for it. Towards the end of his career Lainé may have worked for another Rothschild, Béatrice, on the gardens of the spectacular Villa Ephrussi in the south of France. Ferdinand de Rothschild had been so impressed by Lainé that he recommended him to Léopold II, the so-called ‘builder king’ of Belgium, probably during a visit by the king to Waddesdon in June 1888. History does not remember Léopold kindly: he ran the Congo in Central Africa as his own private colony and the local people were treated brutally. With the fortune he made from Africa, the king embarked on extensive building projects across Belgium,
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
seeking to make his young kingdom ‘more beautiful’ and to establish its international reputation. Lainé was employed by Léopold from 1889 for around 15 years. He was already 60 years old when he joined the ﬂuctuating team of architects and landscape designers working on existing royal estates and new land purchases, but his output was prodigious and his proposals were increasingly valued by Léopold. Over time, he became the king’s designer of choice. Many of Lainé’s projects for the king were designed to enhance the Belgian capital, especially for the prestigious World’s Fair held in Brussels in 1897. He also worked at royal estates in the Ardennes, a rugged wooded area to the south of the country, where Léopold had acquired over 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres) of land that he thought would attract international travellers to holiday in the Belgian mountains. His designs were in demand for Ostend, the king’s summer home on the coast, where Léopold judged that, although the beach was exceptional, the town needed ‘greenery and water’ before it could compete with other popular spa resorts. The king’s grand visions even took Lainé back to the south of France, where he worked on some of Léopold’s ﬁnest properties. Lainé’s work for the Belgian monarch demonstrated the range of his talents. Projects in the wooded hills and valleys of the south conﬁrmed his prowess with mature tree plantations. He skilfully planted the grounds of the royal Château d’Ardenne (later turned into a luxury hotel by Léopold) with evergreens, including yews, cypresses, hollies, ﬁrs, spruce, cedars, pines and junipers, as well as adding an exedra or open-air theatre. Nearby, the considerable grounds of the château at Ciergnon were planted with many large native trees, such as oaks, beech and birch, and Lainé also laid out a complex system of rockwork, ponds, pumped waterways and cascades, interplanted with pines, ﬁrs and other conifers. 13
Above: The château at Ciergnon. Photo: Paul Hermans.
upmarket hotel among the dunes, new water features in an Lainé worked extensively at the royal residence of Laeken, extended urban park, and a small ornamental garden (now just north of Brussels, from 1889 until at least 1903, helping Koningspark) behind the royal chalet. turn the grounds into a beautifully planted estate with views Outside Belgium, the king bought up several properties and water features. At the special request of the king, he also on France’s Côte d’Azur and turned them into spectacular laid out the terraced carriageway that provided access to private villas. This was unpopular both with locals, who only Laeken from the north, which was a mass of greenery and half-jokingly said the area was effectively becoming another ﬂowers, inspired by the king’s love of the Bois de Boulogne Belgian colony, and with Belgians, who disliked their king’s in Paris. His plans for Laeken show Lainé’s conﬁdence in habit of setting up his mistresses in expensive properties designing everything from circulation routes, parkways and outside his kingdom. His ﬁrst purchase on the beautiful proposed plots for housing, to parterres, picturesque peninsular of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat was a villa at Port de plantings, decorative palisades and statuary. Passable with its own private harbour for his yacht. Here Perhaps Lainé’s masterpiece for the king was his design for Lainé advised over several years on ways of creating suitable the grounds of the Palais des Colonies, on the royal estate of access roads, bridges and stairways on a steep, restricted site. Tervuren, southeast of Brussels, created to showcase Léopold’s At Col de Caïre, Villefranche-sur-Mer, the king planned Congo at the World’s Fair of 1897, and visited by more than Léopolda, a splendid villa among hundred-year-old trees. 1.2 million people during the six months of the exhibition. Lainé’s masterplan for the site included a classical garden near For this Lainé designed a classical French garden with a the villa, carriageways lined with palm trees, and dramatic striking double axis, as well as viewpoints, statues, staircases terraces cut out of the French hillsides for vegetable growing. and a formal lake. With its sense of balance and geometry Sadly Lainé’s work for Léopold, especially in Brussels, is around the double axis, Tervuren is the design which best today frequently credited to an unrelated man who shared shows the inﬂuence of Lainé’s experience at Vaux. As a further part of the plans for the World’s Fair, Léopold also chose a design by Lainé for a new public park at Woluwé. In complete contrast to the classical gardens of Tervuren, here Lainé laid out a remarkable naturalistic landscape with a series of terraces, ponds and extensive tree plantations. This landscape of woods and water is still hailed today as the ‘green lungs’ of Brussels. At the king’s summer home of Ostend, Lainé produced a master plan for the whole town, followed by a development of parks, gardens and house plots around an Above: Waddesdon today. Photo: Joe Spiteri 14
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Projects involving Elie Lainé his surname. Elie signed his plans and letters ‘E. Lainé’ and, as his reputation fell away in the later 20th century and the link with Waddesdon was forgotten, he became confused with the younger but better-known French architect Emile Lainé (1863–1930). Indeed a pedestrian walkway and bike path in Elie’s great Parc de Woluwé in Brussels was named Avenue Emile Lainé, supposedly in honour of its designer. Elie Lainé never married. He continued working well into his seventies then retired to the house he had built in his hometown of Brain-sur-l’Authion. He died aged 82, a wealthy man, with property, shares and savings valued at almost 160,000 francs (the equivalent today of about €500,000). His assets were divided up between his remaining family, with the grand house and its contents going to his niece, Elizabeth Moulière. Sadly the house was sold in 1926 and most of the ﬁne furniture and any papers relating to his life and work were dispersed. There are family memories of some of the splendid pieces he had acquired, including his desk with many drawers and a lamp that may have been a personal gift from Léopold. At least one member of his family appears to have followed in his footsteps, as his nephew Louis Piquelin was a site foreman at Laeken, where Lainé had worked for so many years for the Belgian king. The name Elie Lainé may have been largely forgotten or confused with others, but many of his designs survive and remain impressive after more than a century. He was a man completely right for his time, combining a conﬁdence in laying out fashionable, naturalistic parklands, scenic ponds and skilfully planted woodlands with an ability to restore and recreate the re-emerging classical style of French gardens. His abilities ranged from master-planning for whole towns to designing small architectural garden features, and he showed a particular ability for large-scale earthworks, mature tree plantations and major hydraulic installations (his pumping systems at Vaux and Ciergnon still survive today). Perhaps his greatest asset was an ability to impress a range of wealthy clients, keen to leave their mark on history. More remains to be discovered about Monsieur Lainé. If HGR readers have any information, leads or sources, please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. The author would like to thank everyone who helped with this article: Jacqui Compton for genealogical research; Dr Odile De Bruyn for advice on Lainé in Belgium; Prof. Dr Gustaaf Janssens, Director of the Royal Archives (Brussels); Simone Moulière (wife of Lainé’s great-great-nephew) for advice on the family and local archival research; Dr Sophieke Piebenga and Catherine Taylor for help with the Waddesdon archives, and the Rothschild Archive, London, for permission to quote from Ferdinand’s letters.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Dates given are the approximate start of each project. Designs for King Léopold II unless otherwise stated. Italics: attribution or extent of involvement not yet confirmed. 1875 Grounds, Waddesdon Manor, for Ferdinand de Rothschild. 1876 Restoration of gardens, Vaux le Vicomte, for Alfred Sommier. 1877 Jardin à l’anglaise, parc de la Pépinière, for Ville de Nancy. 1881 Park, Château d’Armainvilliers, for Baron Edmond de Rothschild. 1886 House and garden, Brain-sur-l’Authion, for own use. 1887 Garden and grounds, La Triboulette, Vouzeron, for Baron Eugene Roger. 1889 Park, Château royal d’Ardenne. Park and house lots, Laeken. 1890 Park, royal estate of Ciergnon and Villiers-sur-Lesse. Redesign, Parc de Forest, Brussels. Terrace, Jardins du Fleuriste, Laeken. 1891 Masterplan, town of Ostend. Two squares, Koninginnelaan, Ostend. 1893 Parterres, jardin d’hiver, Laeken. Gardens, Palais des Colonies, Tervuren. Circulation routes, citadel of Namur. 1894 Parks, gardens, house lots and hotel, Mariakerke, Ostend. 1895 Glasshouses, palmarium and gardens (unrealised), Laeken. Tourist facilities including cafés and shops (unrealised), near Chalet Royal, Ostend. Extension, Bois de Boulogne (now Maria Hendrika park), Ostend. 1897 Advice on access and land purchase, Port de Passable, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Masterplan, villa Léopolda, Villefranche-sur-Mer. Parc de Woluwé, Etangs Mellaerts and Parc Parmentier, Brussels. 1898 Terrace (unrealised), Place du Palais, Brussels. 1900 House lots, Tervuren. 1902 Jardin du Pavillon Chinois, Laeken. Unknown work, Germany. Masterplan, Groenendaal, Belgium. Parkway, avenue de Meysse, Brussels. Pleasure garden and tree nursery, Norwegian chalet, Raversijde, Ostend. 1903 Square du 21 Juillet, Laeken. Garden, Chalet Royal (now Koningspark), Ostend. Parterre, Château de l’Orfraisière, Nouzilly, for de Wendel family. 1905 Gardens, Villa Ephrussi, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, for Béatrice de Rothschild. Gardens, villa Les Cèdres, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Redesign and planting, Parc de Jenneret, Ardenne, for Baron Paul-Louis de Favereau.
Botanical Sleuths Keep Georgia Gardens on the Right Path By Bob Kelley
Modern-day Miss Marples explore the state to document its living history.
or the best ‘time out’ in Georgia in the southeastern United States, one often doesn’t have to look any further than the nearest garden: public or private, formal or picturesque. The peacefulness of splashing fountains and the ability to stroll along intricate pebble pathways lined with boxwood or gaze across a breathtaking sea of blossoms of every imaginable colour and texture, has had a mesmerising effect on folks ever since Adam and Eve roamed Eden. From Babylon’s luxuriant Hanging Gardens to the grandeur of Versailles and the tranquillity of Monet’s lily ponds, the preservation of jardin des plantes of all shapes and sizes has historically played second ﬁddle to more sturdy relics made of wood and stone. Lovely and ornate, gardens are fragile living entities whose fate is contingent upon how they are maintained, how well they resist destruction by insects and drought and a host of other factors. Thankfully, the fabled gardens of the world that no longer exist ﬂourish today in our collective memories due to carefully detailed
Portions of Oakton’s gardens have a casual, natural look and vintage garden decor. All photos by Bob Kelley except where indicated.
records or, as in the case of the Hanging Gardens, written legends passed down through the ages. In the land renowned for its magnolias and antebellum mansions, a growing number of ornamental gardens that once graced the towns and country sides across Georgia are being lost. Fortunately, over the past decade, a dedicated team of The Garden Club of Georgia, Inc. (GCG) volunteers, headquartered in Athens, Georgia, has worked tirelessly to keep not only the memory of those lost Georgia gardens alive, but to document existing gardens for future generations. In the spirit of ﬁctional detectives like Sherlock Holmes and Jane Marple, these determined ladies have traded their stereotypical ﬂoppy hats and garden gloves for detailed surveys in search of historical back stories, horticultural blueprints and vintage photographs. The Georgia Historic Landscape Initiative (GHLI) was created in 2002 under the guidance of the late Jim Cothran, a noted Atlanta landscape architect and author, to provide a statewide inventory of Georgia’s historic gardens. Modelled
Botanical Sleuths after the national Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS), the Georgia version is a smaller-scaled rendition created with the backing of a powerhouse coalition that includes the State Historic Preservation Oﬃce, The Garden Club of Georgia, Inc., Cherokee Garden Library of the Atlanta History Center and the National Park Service Southeast Regional oﬃce. There is no other programme in the state that encourages the restoration or rehabilitation of historic gardens and landscapes. ‘The GHLI recognises the importance of Georgia’s rich garden history and the need to identify, document and record the history, existing condition and changes over time,’ said Winette Almon, current GHLI chairperson. ‘The information that is gathered is being used to promote awareness of the signiﬁcance of cultural landscapes to Georgia’s heritage.’ According to Staci Catron, director of the Cherokee Garden Library in Atlanta, ‘We wanted the initiative to be compatible with HALS so that if any of our data needed to be blended into this national pool, it could be done easily.’ At the core of the GHLI is a book published in 1933, Garden History of Georgia 1733-1933. The basic intent of the programme is to revisit the 160 historic gardens documented in this book and examine ﬁrsthand their status today. ‘There are only about one third of the gardens featured in the 1933 book that are still in existence today,’ said Catron. ‘Many have been lost to urban sprawl, neglect or sold by their owners as a matter of economics.’ While the coalition provides name recognition to the initiative, it is the driven volunteer members of the GCG statewide who do the majority of hands-on research. Using a detailed survey created by the National Park Service’s Susan Hitchcock, members of the GCG’s seven Georgia districts are active year-round uncovering information, family histories, authentic blueprints and faded photographs to document eight to ten historic gardens each year. ‘Through our documentation, history buffs get a more authentic sense of what these gardens were like as opposed to what they may have seen in the movies,’ noted Lee Dunn, a member of GCG’s historic preservation of garden and sites committee. ‘Interested readers want to know what plants were originally grown in the gardens, what type of ornamental pattern they had, or the history and ultimate fate of the people who nurtured these gardens. There is so much these gardens can tell us about our past.’ In the course of doing the research on the gardens, the volunteers often uncover tangible historic evidence about a site or a site’s owners that may not have been previously documented. In this regard, they act as amateur historians compiling information from family members, old newspaper articles, historic recall and diaries.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Above: A 19th-century rendering shows how the gardens at Oakton were originally planned. (Courtesy of the Peachtree Garden Club, Atlanta, Georgia and the Garden Club of Georgia, Inc.) Below: The kitchen gardens at Oakton. (Courtesy of Will Goodman.)
‘This movement has grown nationwide as far as an interest in cultural and historic landscapes,’ said Mary Ann Eaddy, retired preservationist from the Georgia Department of Resources, Historic Preservation Division. ‘We are trailblazing a path for other states across America because, to our knowledge, no other type of programme like this existed before the GHLI was created. Since we started a decade ago, other states like Virginia and South Carolina have come to us for advice on how to create similar projects and have even modelled their programmes after ours.’ While much has been written about the more popular historic Georgia gardens such as Calloway, Barnsley, 17
Top: Oakton as it looked in the late 1890s. Note the vintage horse and buggy carrying visitors. (Courtesy of Will Goodman) Above: Oakton’s exterior has not changed much over the past century.
Callonwolde, Dunaway and Swan House, focus of the initiative has been on gardens that are less notable but just as historic, many still in the hands of private owners. Examples include Oakton, Valley View and Wingﬁeld. All that remains of Oakton plantation’s 325 acres near Marietta, Georgia are ﬁve acres that contain the original house and garden. Owner Will Goodman’s grandfather bought the site in 1939 and the next three generations of Goodmans have called Oakton home. ‘After World War II, my grandfather returned home and was faced with rising taxes on the property,’ recalled Goodman. ‘Determined to make Oakton a working farm and earn a living off the land, he had to take extreme measures to save the home and support his family. Much of the plantation was subdivided and sold to developers to pay the taxes. I’m glad he worked so hard to save Oakton because growing up here actually made me want to have a career in landscape architecture. 18
‘The GHLI had a dramatic impact on how we maintain Oakton today and our vision for the property going forward,’ Goodman added. ‘The initiative shows current owners the aspects that should be maintained should they decide to renovate their gardens and property. It outlines the skeleton of the garden and offers suggestions on what should deﬁnitely be retained.’ Selling and subdividing tracts of Oakton, unfortunately has resulted in the loss of a large portion of its original landscape beauty but, due to the Goodmans’ efforts, a signiﬁcant selection of trees, ﬂowers and bushes remain. The grape harbour is still there plus an eye-pleasing palette of hydrangeas, yews, apple trees, euonymous and formal kitchen gardens. Towering oaks, Norway spruce and cedars still provide a canopy of shade. The half-moon rose and lily garden has survived to provide a vibrant fragrance on warm summer evenings as it wafts across the spacious front lawn. For over 160 autumns, members of the Sproull-Fouche family at their home, Valley View, have welcomed nature’s colourful foliage as it unfolded across the scenic Etowah Valley near Cartersville, Georgia. Standing on the columned antebellum mansion’s second-ﬂoor balcony, ﬁve generations of the same family have also experienced the joy of looking down upon the home’s two famed parterre (patterned) gardens that still ﬁll the front yard today The interior of the house is ﬁlled with original furnishings like the 19th-century crystal chandelier, a gift from the Queen of Romania. In the corner of the parlour sits a desk transformed from an old piano that invading Union troops used as a horse trough during a brief Civil War occupation. Upstairs a Union soldier’s name is scrawled on a closet wall, another ‘souvenir’ left in a home thankfully spared Union General William Sherman’s wrath. The sprawling plantation, once consisting of hundreds of acres, has dwindled considerably. A 75-acre area surrounding the house is protected for generations to come by a conservation easement. ‘We were one of the “test” houses when the GHLI was created,’ said Bob Norton, Valley View’s current resident and a descendent of the original plantation owner, Col. James Caldwell Sproull of Abbeville, SC. Like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, Norton recalled how the Civil War left his family ﬁnancially ruined, leaving few resources to perform upkeep on the home and gardens. ‘In the early 1960s, my father started taking steps to bring Valley View back to its original state,’ he noted. Pin oaks, planted in recent years, protect the digniﬁed front formal garden from the hot Georgia sun. Painstaking care is being taken to rebuild the triple hedges bordering the central walkway to the front porch, using boxwood accented with Carolina cherry. Framing the sides and back of the house are locust and cedar trees surrounded by beds of HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Botanical Sleuths Maman Cochet roses. Clusters of plants and bushes surrounding other structures near the main house include bush wisteria, English laurel, Persian lilacs, crepe myrtle, mock orange, ﬂowering holly, jasmine and forsythia. One historic Atlanta garden that didn’t have a happy ending was located at Wingﬁeld, owned by Georgia Governor John M. Slaton and his wife, Sarah. Their home, a stately mansion, was built in 1908 by Atlanta architect Neel Reid. The luxuriant gardens on the estate were created by landscape architect R. B. Cridland of Philadelphia. Slaton served at the state’s helm from 1911–15 and Wingﬁeld’s spectacular gardens, created with various geometric designs, included lush junipers and vinca, with circular fountains ﬁlled with lilies, palms and cattails. Crepe myrtles snuggled up to lush English laurels and garden ﬁxtures included sundials wrapped in ivy. In the years following Slaton’s death in 1955, the gardens and home were demolished and have been replaced with condominiums. Once the 160 initial gardens have all been surveyed, there will still be much to do. Since 1933, other existing gardens have passed the prerequisite ‘50 year or older’ standard and qualify for being included in the project. ‘Garden History of Georgia 1733-1933’s detailed gardens provided the impetus for the GHLI,’ Catron added. ‘Once we are ﬁnished, we will start focusing on subsequent eras from 1933 forward. For instance, there is a growing interest in landscapes from the 1950s and early 1960s.’ The GHLI’s information repository, housed at the Cherokee Garden Library in Atlanta, is a veritable Fort Knox of golden information pertaining to historic Georgia gardens. ‘The information is a valuable research tool for students because the GHLI research goes beyond the story behind historic structures and buildings,’ says Mary Ann Eaddy. ‘It reﬂects something about the people themselves. Other garden club members, historians, landscape architects, and horticulturists are just a few types of people who use the information . . . it is not just sitting on a shelf gathering dust. And best of all, this information is available for free.’ Thanks to the Garden Club of Georgia’s steadfast botanical sleuths and the GHLI, the memory of the state’s ‘living histories’ will go on and on.
Above: Valley View’s most prominent features were the two parterre gardens at the front of the antebellum home. (Courtesy of the Peachtree Garden Club, Atlanta, Georgia and the Garden Club of Georgia, Inc.) Below: Valley View as it appears today. Although occupied by Union troops during the Civil War, the home was spared destruction. Bottom: The years have taken their toll on the parterres, but Bob Norton is painstakingly restoring them to their former splendour.
Bob Kelley is an Atlanta-based freelance contributor to Georgia Backroads and Northeast Georgia Living magazines, and had articles and photos published nationally in the Denver Post newspaper, Country Extra magazine (a Reader’s Digest publication), and Atomic Ranch magazine. He recently authored a photo history of Doraville, an Atlanta suburb, for Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America nationwide book series.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Conservation not Confrontation By Richard Mawrey
Spain spearheads a movement towards a new appreciation of Islam’s horticultural heritage.
pain was the only country in Western Europe to undergo a prolonged period of occupation by Islamic rulers. In the century following the death of the Prophet Mohammad in 632, his followers conquered a mighty empire which stretched from modern Pakistan to the Pyrenees. Most of the Iberian peninsula came under Muslim control in the early 8th century but had to spend the next seven centuries ﬁghting against the Christian attempt at reconquest, which led to the foundation of the Kingdom of Portugal (1139) and the various kingdoms eventually united as the Kingdom of Spain in the 15th century. This proved to be a losing battle, with the ﬁnal Muslim state (Granada) being incorporated into Spain only in 1492. It is therefore particularly ﬁtting that, at a time when the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds are increasingly polarised, a Spanish organisation has taken the lead in establishing a programme of cooperation for safeguarding the rich Islamic heritage of parks and gardens. La Fundación de Cultura Islámica (FUNCI) was created in1982 by the Islamic academic and humanist Cherif Abderrahman Jah, who is still its President, and Julio Caro Baroja. Baroja (1914-1995), originally a Basque specialist, became an expert in North African anthropology, history and sociology and was famous for his studies of folk magic and witchcraft. Based in Madrid, FUNCI is registered as a non-governmental organisation with the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, and also as a private Cultural Foundation in Spain. FUNCI’s members and partners are for the most part cultural NGOs, educational establishments and the like, and it is funded by contributions from members, cultural publications and activities, such as running courses. FUNCI concerns itself with all aspects of Islamic culture and its educational courses cover areas such as the history of the expansion of Islam, the traditions and celebrations of the Muslim world, its religious customs, artistic expressions, and understanding of nature. Its relevance to garden heritage lies in its Med-O-Med 20
programme (www.medomed.org) which has initiated a series of garden conservation and restoration projects throughout the Muslim world. The impetus for the idea was the fact that Islam had a rich and varied history of parks and gardens but lacked the organisation, the expertise and, in many cases, the money to evaluate and conserve them. As the Arab Spring so vividly highlighted, most of the countries of North Africa and the Near East were run by harsh dictatorships or were riven with sectarian strife. The Arab Spring itself has done away with several of those régimes but the consequence has necessarily been a period of turmoil and uncertainty – and several of the more oppressive governments still remain in power. Left to themselves, all these countries would give very low priority to any part of their heritage not needed for immediate political purposes. Indeed, much of value has
Above: Orchards in the Agdal Gardens, Morocco.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
recently been destroyed. Thus a secondary consideration has been to build cultural bridges between the Islamic nations and Europe at a time when political bridges are being enthusiastically burned (often from both ends). Intelligently, one of Med-O-Med’s ﬁrst tasks has been to try and compile an inventory of historic Islamic parks and gardens. This has not been easy, particularly with countries whose governments are hostile to the outside world. One of Med-O-Med’s successes has been to persuade the Iranians to come on board, and the inventory now includes the 19thcentury Shazdeh Garden in north-east Iran and the 16th-century Bagh-e-Fin garden in Kashan (traditionally the home of the Three Magi of the Christmas story), which was the subject of reports by Rory Stuart in HGR 22 and 23. Secondly, Med-O-Med is establishing networks in the region, each dealing with a different subject. These include the Network of Botanic Gardens in the Mediterranean and Middle East, aﬃliated to BGCI (Botanic Gardens Conservation International). This is not simply a passive logging of existing botanic gardens; Med-O-Med has worked to have several gardens recognised as serious botanic gardens, a recent example being the Estación Biológica Torretes in Alicante, Spain, which specialises in old varieties of plants (particularly medicinal plants) and holds several Spanish national collections of species. Med-O-Med’s own network of members now includes botanic gardens in Fez and Rabat (Morocco), Jordan, Zagreb (Croatia), the Al Quds Botanic Gardens (Palestine) and the Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanik Bahçesi in Istanbul, as well as several within Spain itself. It maintains links with ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites), the Fondation Mohammed VI pour la Protection de l’Environnement in Morocco, the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (Jordan), the Syrian Environment Association, and the Bergerie National de Rambouillet in France. Networks, however, while being useful are no substitute for work carried out on the ground. In the few years of its existence, Med-O-Med has begun to build up an impressive portfolio of projects for the restoration or conservation of threatened gardens. In HGR 26 we reported the agreement signed in June 2011 for the restoration of the Agdal (or Aguedal) Gardens in Marrakech, Morocco. These enormous gardens (400 ha, 4 sq km or 1.5 sq miles) were created in the 12th century by Abd al-Mu’min (1094–1163), the ﬁrst Caliph of the Almohad Empire. Originally an orchard, they were enlarged and enclosed with walls in the 19th century. Groves of citrus, ﬁg, pomegranate and apricot trees are interspersed with pools, the largest of which is overlooked by a small pavilion, the Dar El Hana. The gardens are irrigated by a
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Top: The Shadzeh gardens in Iran. Above: The Bagh-e-Fin garden, also in Iran. Below: Bassin in the Agdal Gardens, Morocco.
Conservation not Confrontation complex system of wells, springs, ditches and underground channels bringing water from the High Atlas mountains. What has happened since the agreement was signed? Med-O-Med set up a small team of experts headed by Dr Julio Navarro of the Arabic Studies School in Granada, and in January 2012 the group carried out a preliminary archaeological investigation of the site and compiled a heritage inventory. The experts said they were astonished at the site’s ‘richness and complexity’, which had ‘exceeded expectations’. The results of the ﬁrst phase of investigation were presented at a conference in Granada in March 2013. As a result of this very positive report the team was expanded and a second phase of archaeological investigation set in train. A multi-disciplinary working team has been formed mainly of Spanish and Moroccan experts, the landscape architects being headed by Carmen Añon, the doyenne of Spanish garden conservators. The Agdal project is likely to take several years but it has got off to a good start and there is every hope that, as long as Morocco remains one of the more stable countries in the region, it will progress to an actual restoration of these dramatic and important gardens. This is not, however, FUNCI’s ﬁrst venture in Morocco. Starting in 2009, Med-O-Med created an Andalusian garden for botanical and pleasure purposes in a site forming part of
the Jardin d’Essais Botaniques in Rabat, the ﬁrst public garden in that city, created by the French designer JeanClaude Nicolas Forestier just before the Great War. The project also restored the early 20th-century Moorish pavilion near the site. The garden was formally opened by King Mohammed VI on 17 June 2013. This was followed by a project in Jerusalem where FUNCI, as part of the Med-O-Med campaign, is cooperating with the Al Quds University in the creation of a botanic garden, the focal point of which will be another Andalusian Garden which will recreate the collections, philosophy, structures and traditional watering systems of the latemedieval period of Islamic rule in Spain. This garden will also focus on preserving Mediterranean, particularly Palestinian, ﬂora. A seed bank, a herbarium and a botanic library specialising in the history of science in al-Andalus (from which we derive the modern Andalusia), are all planned. In both these gardens there is an emphasis on the use of water as a major garden element that is crucial to the concept of the Islamic garden. Med-O-Med also encourages conservation of the environment, particularly the urban environment. In 2011 it embarked on a project in the town of Doueir in southern Lebanon in collaboration with the town council, aimed at Below: Doueir in Lebanon.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Conservation not Confrontation
Above: The new Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée in Marseilles. Right: The medieval monks’ garden in the Latomia Quarries in Sicily.
encouraging its citizens, particularly the young, to improve their environment by planting trees and by adopting an ecological attitude to waste and litter. The project secured funding from the European Union and has attracted support from a number of environmental NGOs in Lebanon. Med-O-Med is not exclusively concerned with Islamic gardens and participated in the recent Gardmed project (2007-2013), the network of Mediterranean gardens. This was a joint Italian and Maltese project to conserve 18 historic parks and gardens in Italy and Malta, some of them botanic gardens. These included the gardens created by medieval Capuchin monks in the infamous stone quarries, the Latomia, where the 5th-century BC tyrants of Syracuse in Sicily used to put their prisoners to forced labour. The Med-O-Med project is very much in line with the upsurge in interest in the Mediterranean as a cultural area. On 7 June 2013 the French Government opened a magniﬁcent new museum, Le Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée, in Marseilles, traditionally France’s main port of embarkation for its North African Empire (another link with the Islamic world) as part of the city’s year as European Cultural Capital. It is early days yet. Med-O-Med has only been up and running for less than six years (though FUNCI itself is now 30 years old) and, clearly, funds for initiatives are not
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unlimited. It is heartening that both FUNCI and Med-OMed have continued not simply to exist but to expand their activities at a time when Spain is undergoing a horrendous ﬁnancial and economic crisis. It proves that if the will exists to preserve the world’s cultural heritage, the means can be found, however unfavourable the ﬁnancial climate. Richard Mawrey is a QC, an author and a Trustee of the Historic Gardens Foundation. FUNCI C/ Guzmán el Bueno, 3 – 2º dcha E-28015 Madrid Spain Tel/Fax: 91 543 46 73 Website: www.funci.org
The Historic Gardens of Alcatraz By Jenny Randall
Best known for its fearsome prison, Alcatraz is also home to some beautiful gardens.
he visitor approaches The Rock by ferry – the only way to get to Alcatraz – from the opposite side of the island that you can see from San Francisco. The island is of some 22 acres (9 hectares) and was ﬁrst acknowledged by a Spanish scout, Juan Manuel de Ayala in the early 1770s. He named it the Isla de los Alcatraces which means the Island of Cormorants or Pelicans, as there were so many living there, but Alcatraz is the name that has stayed and it is still a safe haven for nesting birds of many kinds. In 1847 Alcatraz was purchased by the United States from the Mexican government. The Gold Rush of 1849 produced enormous wealth that resulted in increased shipping traﬃc and thus necessitated the building of a lighthouse on the island, the ﬁrst to be built on the US Paciﬁc shores. Starting out as a fort to protect San Francisco Bay in 1853, the island was an important part of the US Army’s western defence plan and had more than 400 soldiers stationed there. By 1861 it was functioning as a military and civilian prison. In 1915 it formally became an army disciplinary barracks before the
Bureau of Prisons took it over in 1934 to house America’s more notorious criminals. From the time Alcatraz was decommissioned as a fort in 1907, it was a Federal penitentiary that held the likes of Al Capone and Robert Stroud, ‘The Birdman’. Fifty years ago, on 21 March 1963, the infamous prison of Alcatraz Island was closed. Today, many come to see the great concrete fortress and take in the cells and solitary conﬁnement area, but I wonder how many people come, as my companion and I did, just to experience the horticultural diversity of Alcatraz. As we began to climb up and up the Main Road, slowly the landscape started to reveal itself with little strip gardens here and there until we reached the top of the hill, breathless, but rewarded with the gardens of the Oﬃcers’ Row and a view of the city beyond. After ‘The Rock’ was closed down in 1963, three occupations of varying lengths by Native Americans took place between 1964 and 1971, after which the Federal General Services department started to pull down buildings. HISTORIC GARDENS Review
The Historic Gardens of Alcatraz This stopped in 1972 when the island was declared part of the newly designated Golden Gate National Recreation Area, administered by the National Park Service. The island’s horticultural history started during the period when Alcatraz became a fort in 1853, when the army brought in topsoil from nearby Angel Island and, along with it, seeds of native Californian plants. The plant life has developed over the years based on the garden work of inmate gardeners and families of soldiers and correctional oﬃcers. Some of the plants we see cascading down the slopes and terraces today are living history of yesterday. The island is like a tapestry created by individuals’ interests in different plants. It is that garden culture that galvanised the Alcatraz Historic Gardens project, which began in 2003 as a collaboration of the Garden Conservancy and the Golden Gate National Park’s Conservancy, in partnership with the National Parks Service. The Golden Gate National Park’s Conservancy is the supporting non-proﬁt organisation for the National Recreation Area. The Project’s aim was to restore, preserve and maintain the gardens created by those who lived on the island during its military and prison eras. The gardens had been neglected for 40 years since the closing of the prison in 1963, so the other objective was to interpret the gardens’ horticultural and cultural signiﬁcance for visitors. By the end of 2007 the project team had established a garden crew, removed overgrowth from the gardens, prepared planning documents and treatment plans. They had completed the rehabilitation of the Main Road landscape and begun working on the area known as Oﬃcers’ Row. In 2009 a water catchment system was completed to use rainwater for garden irrigation. This gravity-fed system collects rainwater off the Cellhouse roof and directs it to massive cisterns originally installed to contain run-off from the prison showers. The Main Road landscape follows the line of the road snaking up to the Cellhouse. Where the army originally lined that road with surplus cannonballs, these gave way to planted garden strips. In and around the Sallyport area, just up from the ferry pier, the National Park Service identiﬁed both periwinkle (Vinca major) and English ivy (Hedera helix) which they deemed invasive and called for their removal during restoration. They also found Pelargonium hortorum (Alphonse Ricard), Rosa ‘Excelsa’, Rosa ‘Gardenia’ and Fuchsia ‘Rose of Castile’, a fuchsia originally propagated in the UK in 1869. Another rose by the name of Bardou Job was discovered by a heritage rose expert in the Warden’s garden from the Penitentiary era. This rose originated in France, but it was also a rose once grown in Wales, but lost, in the days before World War I. Cuttings were sent back when it was seen by chance on the internet by the rose expert who was growing it there.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Opposite: Alcatraz as seen from the ferry just before landing.
Above: The transitional Victorian garden between the Citadel and the oﬃcers’ houses, c1870. (Courtesy of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Park Archives, San Francisco, USA.)
Above: Garden strip in front of Post Exchange (FX) built in 1910 in the Military Era. The building was used as the Oﬃcers’ Club in the Federal Prison Era (1934). It was destroyed by ﬁre in 1970.
The Historic Gardens of Alcatraz
According to the National Parks Cultural Landscape Inventory report of 2005, one of the ﬁrst gardens to be laid out in the late 1860s was on the south side of the island, on top of the water cisterns. These may have been remodelled in 1881. As you near the crest of the island, you come across Oﬃcers’ Row. Before the Cellhouse was built in 1909, there was a transitional garden between the south side of the Citadel and the oﬃcers’ houses. As seen in the photo on the previous page (c1870), this was a typical Victorian garden with heliotrope, calla lillies, fuchsias and roses growing over fences. Houses were built on this road leading to the Citadel garden and small gardens were created in between for the Commandant and his oﬃcers. By 1881 gardening had become an important aspect in the lives of oﬃcers’ families and inmates. A small garden around the original lighthouse was destroyed when the new one was built in 1909. By 1940 in the Penitentiary era, two of the original houses were torn down as the authorities decided they were too close to the inmates. Cutting gardens were created within the foundations of these houses and tended by staff families and some inmates. These were abandoned after the close of the penitentiary and have now been restored through the restoration project. In 1924, the California Spring Blossom and Wildﬂower Association took up a beautiﬁcation programme for Alcatraz Island and nearby Yerba Buena and Angel Islands. Prisoners planted 300 trees (eucalyptus, pines, cypress and giant sequoias), shrubs and hundreds of pounds of seeds (nasturtium and poppies), though many plants did not survive due to shortage of water and neglect. Where historic plantings have disappeared, low-maintenance varieties have been planted. In 1934 Alcatraz was transferred from the military to the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the start of the island’s 26
Left: The lady in the red cardigan was the medical oﬃcer’s wife, Mrs Casey. She is gardening in the foundation of Bldg. #8 of the Oﬃcers’ Row. The photograph dates from the 1950s. (Garden Conservancy/National Park Service.) Above: The restored gardens of the Oﬃcers’ Row. The foundations of two Military Era oﬃcers’ houses were converted into ﬂower gardens that were tended by families and inmates.
Penitentiary era. The ﬁrst warden’s secretary, Fred Reichel, although he had no horticultural experience, took on responsibility for what gardens and vegetation were in place, to include the rose garden, the terraced hillside and the greenhouse. Over the seven years that he lived on the island, Reichel devoted his free time to the care of the gardens, becoming a self-taught expert. He took advice from some of the renowned California horticulturists of the day and started planting and growing annuals and perennials for bedding. He was aware that Alcatraz did not have the best conditions to grow them in: there was limited water and labour to take care of the plants. Although the original imported soil from Angel Island probably brought many Californian native species to The Rock, including coyote bush, blue elderberry, blackberry and California poppies, other exotic, ornamental plants were imported which also suited the island’s bleak and blustery conditions. Plants from around the world have adapted here: pelargoniums, geraniums, fuchsias from Central and South America, fig trees, bulbs from the Mediterranean and South Africa, California bush anemones, the California ﬂannel bush, aloes from South Africa, the New Zealand Christmas tree (Metrosideros excelsa), Pride of Madeira from the Canary Islands, sedum, iceplant and the century plant, Agave lechguilla, related to A. Americana, but smaller and more rare. HISTORIC GARDENS Review
The Historic Gardens of Alcatraz Some plants survived and some did not. Succulents were the ﬁrst type of plants Reichel grew and experimented with, to see what would survive. To this day there are certainly a lot of agave, sedum, aeonium and echium – and there are also many lilies, and roses that are otherwise found only in specialist nurseries. The Cellhouse slope on the western side was planted up with iceplant ‘Persian Carpet’ by the military to beautify that slope (which faced the city of San Francisco) and to control erosion, together with ﬁg trees, honeysuckle, vinca and ivy. A vast carpet of magenta pink can still be seen ﬂowering there today and the rest of the vegetation has become a major habitat and nesting ground for multiple species of birds. The army also created lawns of clover and bluegrass around the barracks and oﬃcers’ quarters, but it needed too much water, of which there was precious little. Past the Cellhouse, at the end of the west road is where the inmates of the Penitentiary era created gardens for their pleasure and the pleasure of their fellow prisoners. Today the gardens are brim full of aeoniums, sedums and lilies among other plants.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Above: An inmate with pelargoniums in the 1940s. (Garden Conservancy/National Park Service.) Below: The old rose garden.
The Historic Gardens of Alcatraz During Reichel’s tenure, long before horticulture was determined as a therapeutic pastime, the prisoners were encouraged to develop gardens on the western side of the prison, where they added to the terraces already established in the military era. Security practices were such that the prison limited the location of gardens and how they could be maintained. Inmates were known to work at the dock area, in the greenhouses, the rose garden, the Warden’s house and in the prisoners’ gardens. Apparently, the prisoners recycled rubble to make pathways and food scraps to improve the soil. Three prisoners stand out in the historical garden archives as well-known inmate gardeners on The Rock. They were all friends before being ‘reunited’ on Alcatraz: Dick Fransen, Elliott Michener and Jack Giles. They shared seeds and catalogues from Reichel and some of the correctional oﬃcers. The plants they were known to grow included Iceland poppies, snapdragons, delphiniums and dahlias. The Warden had to give permission for any of their gardening activities. It was Elliott Michener who was promoted to work in the Warden’s garden and greenhouse towards the end of his term.
A woman I know remembers going over to Alcatraz as a teenager to visit the Warden’s daughter, with whom she went to school. She says she remembers, on landing, how surprised she was to see prisoners working on gardens around the dock area. In 1976 Alcatraz was put on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1986 it was designated a National Historic Landmark. More recently, the project has received awards for excellence in restoration from the California Preservation Foundation, the National Trust of Historic Preservation and the Association of Partners for Public Lands. Over a million visitors a year climb aboard a ferry to visit this fascinating cultural landscape, evermore enhanced by a large group of garden volunteers who maintain these historic gardens. It gives us a true sense of the place where prisoners and other inhabitants alike strove to balance nature and conquer the starkness of a cold concrete prison complex, built on a windswept rock often shrouded in fog. Jenny Simpson Randall lives in Northern California. She designs and mentors in historic and modern gardens. Left: Prisoners’ gardens. All photos by the author except where indicated.
Free garden tours are led by trained volunteers on Friday and Sunday at 9.30 a.m. from the Alcatraz Dock. There is no entrance fee, but there is a charge for the ferry that is supplied by a private company, under contract to the National Parks Service. Visit www.alcatrazcruises.com or call (415)-981-7625. It is advisable to get tickets a few weeks in advance, especially in the tourist season, May through October. Find out more about Alcatraz www.alcatrazgardens.org www.gardenconservancy.org www.nps.gov/goga Gardens of Alcatraz, John Hart, Russell A. Beatty, Michael Bolan, 1996.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
From Robert Mallet
With regard to the article on ‘Lemoine’s Lilacs’ in HGR 27, could I add that the question of late or early blooming can be related to other genus. The genus Hydrangea, for instance, is very sensitive to climatic accidents and possibly to long-term climatic change. But it would require quite a lengthy period of observation to show evidence of a trend. As an example, in April 2012 hydrangeas were blooming in advance, but by June they were late. Explanation of this phenomenon is still disputed, the more current being that the previous autumn was exceptionally warm. This year, as everyone has noticed, an exceptionally long winter produced a one-month delay in the blooming season. Rhododendrons were still in ﬂower in July! Hydrangeas took over only in the second part of that month. The hot summer that has followed should harden the wood of tender species and make them more frost resistant. That trend is experienced in botanic gardens. Shamrock Collection, Varengeville, France.
From Patrick Duggan Your News item in HGR 27 about Sir John Lowther and his newly restored gardens at Lowther Castle missed one interesting fact. Sir John was a vegetarian – very unusual in the 1690s – and his garden apparently contained lots of fruit trees and many vegetables. London NW3.
From Hans Müller Your readers might be interested to know that on the German side of the Jardin des deux Rives (HGR 28) in Kehl there is a small garden devoted to plants mentioned in the Bible. A path winds through attractive steles, each with a design referring to a different Biblical episode, with the relevant plants grouped round it. Kehl, Germany.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
From Dr Brigid Murphy Why have garden conferences become so expensive? The Australian Landscape Conference in Melbourne this September costs A$649 per person for the two days; the Botanic Gardens Congress in Dunedin, New Zealand, in October costs NZ$1170, admittedly for a whole week of lectures and activities; the Nordic Adventure Connecting Children with Nature conference in Malmö and Copenhagen costs €498, and the oﬃcial dinner is extra. To all of these must be added travel and hotel costs. Such prices completely rule out private individuals attending and surely even organisations and municipalities have to think twice about sending their employees. email@example.com [The Northern Ireland Heritage Committee’s annual conference in Bangor, Co. Down, costs only €170. This year’s subject is Southern Guests: Plants from the Southern Hemisphere in our Gardens’. Dates 11-13 October. And the seminar on ‘Rediscovering the Landscape from a Local Perspective’ organised by the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia in Olot (Girona) 26-27 September is even cheaper at €50. Ed.]
From Maria Borg It was heartening to learn that the gardens of the Villa Bologna in Malta are being restored (HGR 28) but there are fears that they will not generally be open to the public except for special events – which is perhaps strange when the work was partly paid for by public funding destined to promote tourism. Does anyone know whether any strings were attached to the grants received? Brussels
From Marco Sciarrone Following the Optimist item in HGR 28 about the Snug Harbor Botanical Garden, could I draw your readers’ attention to the New York Restoration Project, which has worked to restore and maintain the city’s parks and gardens since 1995, long before Hurricane Sandy caused such devastation. Volunteers have re-opened Swindler Cove, Sherman Creek Park and Highbridge Park, all damaged by the hurricane, but there is much else to be done. Getting local people involved is particularly important, but the NYRP welcomes input from everyone. If you can donate or help in any way, please look at http://www.nyrp.org . Queens, New York, USA. 29
Kensington Roof Gardens By Gillian Mawrey
An extraordinary garden way above London’s rooftops celebrated its 75th birthday earlier this year.
ords like ‘oasis’ and ‘best-kept secret’ are applied to urban gardens so often, they have become almost meaningless – until you visit the Kensington Roof Gardens. Set high above one of London’s most traﬃc-choked roads, their 1.5 acres (0.6ha) of lush greenery cover the whole of what used to be Derry & Toms department store. Built in 1933, this was one of three then ultra-modern stores which, until they closed in the 1970s, made Kensington High Street a shopping destination to rival Oxford Street or Knightsbridge. (The other two were Barkers and Pontings, all eventually owned by the same company.) The ﬂat roofs of Modernist architecture offered garden designers a new type of space to work in. The designer of the Derry & Toms garden was Ralph Hancock, who was born in Cardiff in Wales in 1893 and, after a dramatic career change 30
from insurance broker to landscape architect, made a garden in Buckinghamshire for the sister of King George V and then went to work in the United States. Hancock was commissioned to design the Derry & Toms garden because he had already tested the parameters of what could be laid out on the roof of a building (weight, drainage, wind, etc) when, in 1933-4, he designed the ‘Garden of Nations’ above the 11th ﬂoor of the Rockefeller Center in New York. It was divided into 13 small gardens laid out in styles from around the world, including Japanese, English and Native American. They were weighty constructions, with rocks, streams and masonry walls and arches, and Hancock ﬁlled them with appropriate plants from mature trees to alpines to tiny mosses, and (unusually for the time) wild ﬂowers and plants intended to attract birds. HISTORIC GARDENS Review
This so impressed Trevor Bowen, the boss of Barkers, who had recently bought their next door competitors, that he commissioned Hancock to design a garden for Derry & Toms. Begun in 1936, it had only three sections but they reﬂected Hancock’s preferred styles, as seen in New York and in gardens he designed for other clients and for the Chelsea Flower Show. Built around an Art Deco pavilion where shoppers could take tea were a Tudor Garden, in sympathy with the 1930s fashion for mock-Tudor houses; a Woodland Garden, a style which had been introduced in the previous century and which allowed Hancock to pursue his interest in natural plantings; and a Moorish Garden, with palm trees and a fountain, which was more of an innovation and perhaps inﬂuenced by Hollywood. These were all fantasies, of course, but carried out with such conviction that even today there is a ‘Wow factor’ when you step out into the gardens and realise their extent and how substantial the hard landscaping is. Then you notice that four ﬂamingoes and some ducks are living happily by a lake and a little stream! The gardens were opened in 1938 and became a popular place to visit and have tea. Visitors paying a shilling (5p) each, which was donated to charity, could admire over 500 different varieties of trees and shrubs, planted into soil whose depth was a maximum of 3ft (90cm), irrigated by the store’s own artesian wells, and complemented each year by tens of thousands of bulbs and bedding plants. During the war the gardens suffered some bomb damage, which was repaired; but in the 1970s, in the course of several changes of ownership, the plantings were neglected and parts of the structure clumsily altered. In 1976 a tree preservation
Opposite: A 1930s watercolour showing the Moorish Garden. Above: e 75th birthday cake decorated with flamingoes. Right: Flamingoes and ducks live beside the stream in the Woodland Garden.
KENSINGTON ROOF GARDENS 99 High Street Kensington, London W8 5ED. (Entrance in Derry Street.) Tel: +44 (0)207 937 7994 www.roofgardens.virgin.com Open: Every day if not hired for a function. Telephone or check the website.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
order was put in place, which meant that the now mature trees were protected, and English Heritage eventually listed the gardens as Grade II, defending them against further changes. Since 1981 the former Derry & Toms block has been owned by the Virgin Group, which has carried out a restoration project in the roof gardens and currently operates them as a venue for parties and weddings. On days when it is not booked the public can visit without charge. Ralph Hancock died in 1950 and remained unrecognised until recently. Most of his gardens have been destroyed, but Robin Hull has researched his œuvre and lists it on http://www.ralphhancock.com/multimedia. On 9 May this year, 75 years to the day since the gardens’ original opening, Virgin held a splendid birthday tea party there. The cake, of course, was decorated with marzipan ﬂamingoes.
HISTORIC GARDENS R e v i e w
Uvedale Price (1747-1829) Decoding the Picturesque
Louis Benech: Twelve French Gardens
Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes
By Charles Watkins and Ben Cowell
By Éric Jansen
By Jean-Louis Cohen
The Picturesque and the Later Georgian Garden
The Gardens of Marrakesh
The New English Garden
By Angelica Gray
By Tim Richardson
By Michael Symes
Lavender Water and Snail Syrup Landscape and Garden Design: Lessons from History By Nicola Lillie and Marilyn Yurdan
34 Private Gardens of the Hudson Valley By Jane Garmey
Little Book of Poisons, Potions and Aphrodisiacs Little Book of Jams, Jellies and Preserves By The Duchess of Northumberland
Das Grüne Florilegium The Green Florilegium
Emmarentia Botanical Gardens, Johannesburg
By Hans Simon Holtzbecker with an essay by Hanne Kolind Poulsen
by Robert Peel
The Milner White Landscape Gardening Dynasty By J.P. Craddock
Elizabeth of the German Garden
Flying Visit – South Korea, The Land of Morning Calm by Alison Partridge
By Jennifer Walker
The Gardens of Suzhou
Garden Review – Chelsea Flower Show 2013
By Ron Henderson
The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon By Stephanie Dalley 32
By Gordon Haynes
by Wendy Ziegler
42 HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Book Decoding or merely describing? By John Dixon Hunt Uvedale Price (1747-1829) Decoding the Picturesque By Charles Watkins and Ben Cowell Boydell Press. 276 pages. £25.00. ISBN 978-1-84383-708-4.
The Picturesque and the Later Georgian Garden By Michael Symes Redcliffe Press. 200 pages. £18.50. ISBN 978-1-908326-09-6.
Above: Two plane trees at Foxley, Sir Uvedale Price’s Herefordshire estate, photographed in 2011 by Garrett Nelson. From Uvedale Price (1747-1829) Decoding the Picturesque.
harles Watkins and Ben Cowell have produced the first biography of the famous picturesque theorist, Uvedale Price. It is richly researched, and provides what (in another context entirely) had been called “the life and times” of a crucial cultural figure. The book deserves a more thorough and lengthy discussion than is possible here, but its range of reference, its attention to the many people Price knew and influenced, and its skill at bring out of the picturesque shadows an intriguing and multi-faceted figure are commendable. The situating of Price within the world of British politics is useful and revealing, as are his connoisseurship and collection of paintings and drawings. The impact of his health on his larger life is well chronicled. So is the way in which he had been disentangled from his grandfather, Uvedale Tomkyns Price, to whom some credit must, nevertheless, go to fostering his grandson’s picturesque tastes. At the centre of any study of Price, biographical or not, must be the relations of his ‘picturesque’ to how he himself organised landscape and its maintenance on his own estate at Foxley and on other properties where his competence was sought. Watkins and Cowell are extremely useful here, above all on the localities in which Price customarily moved – Wales and Herefordshire; but his influence grew after the publication of his Essay on the Picturesque in 1794 and its republication in 1796, even though he also wrote on a variety of other topics. Price had an extensive and full musical life (we get good insights into this). But, with the exception of one letter where Price noted his discussion with Charles James Fox on the
relationship of music to picturesque, those connections are not made. In fact, this tends to be the main awkwardness of this study, that marshalling the mass of new material in a new (for the subject) biography required more careful presentation and editing. We move from topic to topic sometimes without notice, and jump (as doubtless Price did in life) from theme to theme, from friend to correspondent to neighbour. What perhaps gets lost in a detailed biography, with its need to narrate a life chronologically and with adequate attention to a multitude of Price’s contacts, is a fuller understanding of the picturesque itself: we get a full and useful account of its formal strategies, useful quotations from a myriad of writers on the formal moves of picturesque design and picturesque observation, but little on how it reflects mental responses. Thus the book’s ‘decoding’ is only partly fulfilled: notably, the significant distinction between Price’s ideas and those of his good friend, though sometimes opponent in picturesque matters, Richard Payne Knight, is not clear. One of its central tensions was between whether the picturesque was solely created in the mind (Knight) or was a dialogue between mind and the objective world of nature (Price). The other book reviewed here does touch upon this topic. This theme is crucial, above all, in that it affects and effects the continued use of the ‘picturesque’ today, if is it not to be used as a bland and journalist catch-all. We are told that Price’s æsthetic is ‘influential today’, but how that influence is assessed and presented (apart from a passing gesture to Nikolaus Pevsner in the Introduction) is never disclosed. Continues on next page.....
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Garden Making on the Grand Scale Private Gardens of the Hudson Valley
Hall’s photographs with the author’s somewhat self-effacing text given only a supporting role. Running more or less north to south down the eastern edge of New York State, the Hudson River has ere is an old-fashioned coffee-table hewn out a grand landscape that makes its book that creaks as you turn its glossy presence felt as a backdrop to many of the pages – most of which are devoted to John gardens featured. That and some crisp stoneware and paving make it obvious that we are in the New World. Europeans will be impressed at the sheer scale of it all, the size of the mature trees, the sense of endless space. Flowering meadows are the size of a sports field, and water in a garden is as likely a lake as a pond. At one of three Ancram gardens, a colonialBy Jane Garmey The Monacelli Press, New York. 248 pages. $65. ISBN 978-1-5809-3348-3.
style house, pristine against snow, is almost a cliché, suggesting ‘our Christmas card this year’. But not all is precisely controlled. I take comfort in Bruce and Suzie Kovner’s unmown lawns and shaggy hedges. Also the low-maintenance solutions demanded by acres of land and diminished resources – drifts of hardy perennials and grasses – found in many of these gardens offer a pragmatic solution to a sometimes harsh climate. Perhaps the most interesting garden here was not made by its present owners but by the architect and industrial designer Paul Mayén (d.2000). Strange pyramids, obelisks and rough-hewn stones are more important than the plants. The photographs are allowed to speak for themselves, without captions – unluckily for readers who would like the plants identified. There is also no index or plant list, which would be welcome. Andrew Mikolajski
Continued from previous page. The book by Michael Symes is well and profusely illustrated (though the black and white images are very grey), and we can be grateful for its range of visual material that is not usually invoked in such studies. He leads us through different aspects of the picturesque, its various forms (ruins, rockwork, plantings), its industrial and its Scottish picturesque, and its connections with some of the same dramatis personae that Watkins and Cowell present (Repton, Knight, James Wyatt, and John Nash). The narrative is conventional, broadbrushed and without much attention to any complex issues. It will provide a useful introduction to those unfamiliar with the historical ideas of the ‘picturesque’, but puzzle those who wish for a more subtle and nuanced understanding. For example, neither this book nor the other attempts to chart the evolution of the picturesque, from the introduction of the word ‘pittoresk’ into English by
William Aglionby in 1685, and how that usage – referring explicitly to the work of north Italian painters – modulates in the early 18th century into a way of moving/walking, looking and thinking; and then of how people (for pictures were always focused on the role of humans in them) related to places, to which theme Addison and Pope were central, long before it is taken up and broadcast by the end of the century. Symes’s text is fond of such phrases as “the picturesque in its fullest sense” or that “the picturesque = like a picture” – which begs the questions of how paintings were ‘read’ in the 17th and 18th centuries and, further, to what extent paintings were the model for actual place-making as opposed to how the mind might have been tutored in the appreciation of landscapes. That Gilpin ‘conflated’ the picturesque and the sublime is obvious, but therefore evades the issue of how exactly in the late 18th century these responses should be parsed.
Walking was central to Price: in 1800 he was working on a piece that narrates how three friends walked through different types of scenery. (Gipton had done that in his visit to Stowe in 1747 – used by Symes, not cited by Watkins and Cowell.) It is this essentially picturesque mode that is at the centre of the modern discussion by Richard Serra and Robert Smithson of the former’s ‘picturesque’ and his plea for “deambulatory space and peripatetic vision”. All three authors here see “the Picturesque [as] basically and essentially visual” (Symes ). Meagre terms such as ‘basically’ and ‘essentially’ marginalise how exciting the picturesque was, and can still be, because it settles for formal description not analysis. Maybe, it was the ‘codifying’ of the picturesque by the early 19th century that moved its activity from the thoughtful perambulation of the landscape itself to the pages of treatises and thence (alas) into journalistic cliché.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
French Connections Louis Benech: Twelve French Gardens By Éric Jansen Gourcuff Gradenigo. 224 pages. £35.00/$55. ISBN 978-2-35340-155-0.
The Gardens of Marrakesh By Angelica Gray Frances Lincoln. 128 pages. £20.00. ISBN 978-0-7112-3345-4.
ouis Benech’s gardens are supremely elegant. Gardens such as that at the Château d’O in Normandy (pictured) look authentic in their historic settings, and yet could not have been made at any point in time other than the very recent past. His work at the château of Pange in Alsace (featured in HGR 21) also combined respect for the site’s history with modern shapes and plantings, while at Villandry he took a 1930s rather Art Deco design – drawn for the site but never proceeded with – and packed it
Poisonous Presents Lavender Water and Snail Syrup By Nicola Lillie and Marilyn Yurdan The History Press. 160 pages. £9.99. ISBN 978-0-7524-8995-7.
Little Book of Poisons, Potions and Aphrodisiacs Little Book of Jams, Jellies and Preserves By The Duchess of Northumberland The History Press. 127 pages. £9.99 each. ISBN 978-0-7524-9451-7 and 9450-0.
f these three books, those from the Duchess of Northumberland are unequivocally aimed at the ‘Gifte Shoppe’ market, but Lavender Water and Snail Syrup suffers a split personality, unsure of whether to make a useful contribution to the growing corpus of domestic herbals, or whether, with its fussy fonts and surfeit
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
with a profusion of shrubs, bulbs and herbaceous plants that seem to complete the stricter rows of vegetables and annuals in the older areas. In several places, Benech has been called in to revive a garden designed by Russell Page, and the text draws interesting parallels between the two designers. All twelve gardens have been exquisitely photographed by Éric Sander. Although many of the gardens in Marrakesh have been lost, it is still a garden city set in an arid landscape, and one whose garden heritage consists of more than Yves St Laurent’s La Majorelle, which today dominates the garden tourist itinerary. Angelica Gray points out that the famous cobalt blue used there for the paintwork was introduced by Jacques Majorelle, the garden’s true creator, not by St Laurent. Correcting misapprehensions, and bridging the cultural divide between what was built and what visitors expect to
see, are sub-themes of this lively and wellwritten book. There is lots of history, from the 12th century onwards, a variety of influences – Arab, French and modern American – and, in the photographs, all the exoticism one could wish. Gillian Mawrey
of useless illustrations, to raise its sights no higher than the ‘NT day-tripper’ trade. In spite of appearances, the collection of receipts put together by Mrs Ambler in the early 18th century was enough to treat most domestic emergencies and, if they achieved the desired effects only by coincidence, they sound less foul than many other medicines. A particularly charming aspect of this book is the warm account of the family environment in which the receipts were compiled. The annotations by Marilyn Yurdan are generally accurate, in spite of two errors in the single sentence describing Bistort on page 89. Again, why she should identify Benjamin as Artemisia abrotanum, a particularly obscure definition of the term, rather than as the familiar Benzoin resin derived from Styrax, is a mystery. A list of citations would therefore have been appreciated. These however are minor quibbles and unlikely to concern the target readership who will probably only try the simple and delicious recipe for gingerbread.
On the other hand, the Duchess of Northumberland's book of jams and jellies etc, although thirty pages shorter, is far more practical, and the Duchess writes with justifiable pride that she has persuaded a commercial company to manufacture her marmalade from a recipe dating back to 1576. Poisons, Potions and Aphrodisiacs seemingly contains but a single recipe for a poison and one for an asparagus-based aphrodisiac, which some purchasers may reckon a cheat. The problem is that the chapter headings do not make it clear into which category the receipts should fall. Having drunk a red ant and grasshopper soup as a laxative, one may be tempted to try ‘Oyle of Frogges’ on the previous page, which with its ingredients of saffron, ‘malmeseye’, cloves and eggs doesn't sound too bad. However the inclusion of twenty frogs sliced and rotted down for ten days before adding highly toxic henbane would undoubtedly prove to be a ‘cure’ too far. As the Duchess says, “Careful how you go.” Anthony Lyman-Dixon
Modernism and Modern Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes
does not convince that he was as interested in the landscapes around his buildings as By Jean-Louis Cohen some other early 20th-century architects, Thames & Hudson. 403 pages. £49.95. Frank Lloyd Wright for example. ISBN 978-0-500-34290-9. Le Corbusier is barely mentioned in Tim Richardson’s new book, indicating The New English Garden how little the English like his sort of By Tim Richardson Modernism. Yet the new English gardens Frances Lincoln. 328 pages. £40.00. Richardson describes have moved a good ISBN 978-0-7112-3270-9. way from the Edwardian pastiche that would have been seemed typically English he rectangular rose beds in the lawn in the 1990s – and there is, in fact, strong around Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye foreign influence at play in England today. look so ‘suburban’ I was surprised to be told Richardson features the elegant by a guide they were part of the original landscaping of Jacques and Peter Wirtz at design. They can be seen in the cover Ascott; Patrick Blanc’s living green wall in photograph of Prof. Cohen’s book but in London and Henk Gerritsen’s structured none of the other illustrations; nor do any yet natural plantings at Waltham Place – of the essays explain how they fitted into while Piet Oudolf ’s exuberant work with the ‘Virgilian dream’ and ‘rustic landscape’ perennials is seen in several gardens, the architect had in mind for the site. including Scampston (pictured above). The book sets out to examine the Superb photographs show both the “profound relationship between practice explosive detail in the beds and the sweep and place in Le Corbusier’s work”, but of the landscapes, and Richardson’s text
looks firmly at the intellectual as well as the horticultural and design content of these gardens. His writing is often witty (“the rationalistic pieties of modern landscape design”), sometimes critical (“a potentially over-stuffed rose garden”), and occasionally brave, as when he suggests that Highgrove needs “judicious editing”. Most of the gardens featured belong to rich individuals (such people have always been in the vanguard of garden design) but there are two note-worthy public commissions: the Olympic Park in east London and Angel Field in Liverpool. Gillian Mawrey
Ancient and Modern Landscape and Garden Design: Lessons from History By Gordon Haynes Whittles. 154 pages. £35.00/$49.95. ISBN 978-1-84995-082-4.
hile not exactly Landscape History for Dummies, at first sight this book appears what used to be called a Cad’s Guide, easy information for people who need to learn about a subject in a comprehensive but shallow form. (Landscape architects, perhaps, who are good at using CAD but have never been taught any garden history.) It is, indeed, an account (and an extraordinarily wide-ranging one) of garden styles in Britain from 1500 to the present day, but it is also a pithy critique of attempts, particularly in recent years, to categorise and conserve the best parks and gardens that survive from the past.
Although some foreign gardens and designers are mentioned for the purposes of comparison, Le Bois des Moutiers in Normandy is the only garden outside the UK actually discussed, this because it is by Lutyens and Jekyll. Haynes calls it “Munstead Wood with bells on”. No respecter of persons, his sour comment on the Prince of Wales’s garden in Gloucestershire is that, “Apparently, ten gardeners are needed to maintain Highgrove in a tidily shabby condition.” Most of the gardens Haynes examines are owned by the National Trust, and he is quite trenchant in his views on some of the NT’s restoration decisions. At Studley Royal, for instance, he describes as “madness” the decision to site a new visitor centre in a place which leads visitors to experience this Picturesque garden in quite the wrong way, starting from Fountains Abbey, rather than
ending, as the 18th century originally intended, with the monastery’s sublime ruins as the tour’s culmination. Such criticism is valuable. Enjoyment of the iconoclastic tone does not, though, detract from the message that the sweep of the UK’s achievement in creating these gardens over the past five centuries is to be applauded, and that how it came about (the ‘Lessons from History’ of the subtitle) should be studied as seriously as we study other aspects of our culture. This book sprang out of the author’s teaching in Edinburgh – and what a jolly and inspiring tutor he must have been. It is written with great good humour and in a relaxed, non-academic style. Although primarily appealing to readers who are relatively new to garden history or conservation, even the most jaded of experts will surely enjoy this fresh approach. Gillian Mawrey
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Books in Brief Das Grüne Florilegium The Green Florilegium
Paxton’s Protégé The Milner White Landscape Gardening Dynasty
By Hans Simon Holtzbecker with an essay by Hanne Kolind Poulsen Prestel. 248 pages. £90.00/$150.00. ISBN 978-3-7913-5278-7.
By J.P. Craddock J.P. Craddock. 159 pages. £20.00. ISBN 978-0-9516194-0-7.
Until recently, The Green Florilegium had no name and lay almost ignored in Copenhagen’s Statens Museum fur Kunst, while the more famous Gottofor Codex, also painted in the mid17th century by Hans Simon Holtzbecker, received attention from conservators and botanists. Now, its 178 surviving parchment pages have been restored and the 395 plants they so beautifully display properly named. Such identification (pictured is Iris x Germanica, the German or Elder-scented iris) was not easy because flower painters of the pre-Linnæan period preferred æsthetics to accuracy. Who commissioned these pages is not resolved, but we are lucky to be able to delight in their splendour.
The Gardens of Suzhou By Ron Henderson University of Pennsylvania Press. 192 pages. $29.95/£19.50. ISBN 978-0-8122-2214-2.
Once there were more than 200 gardens in Suzhou (China), yet only nine are mentioned in the city’s listing as a World Heritage Site and just 13 are fully described in this book. All these classical ‘scholars’ gardens were once private. Today, they are owned by the state. Little of the original structure remains in any of them, though reconstruction work in recent years could be said to reflect the frequent changes they underwent in previous centuries. The most famous, known as The Humble Administrator’s Garden, is the largest and also the best documented, with an
Elizabeth of the German Garden
The Milner landscaping firm started with Henry Milner, a gardener at Chatsworth under Paxton, and grew to become the largest in England, not excepting the Mawsons. The Whites joined in by marriage, and the firm survived to 1995. Yet it was forgotten until John Craddock came across it while researching his own family. Although there were forays as far afield as the US and Palestine, the majority of the gardens the company designed were in England – and most have been lost. So it is good to have this account, which must surely whet the appetites of the County Gardens Trusts to research some of the sites further. GM
album of paintings surviving from the 16th century. Twenty years ago many of the gardens were in a state of near abandon; now they attract over a million foreign visitors a year and are, Prof. Henderson suggests, “endangered by the crush of tourists”. In what is part guide book and part a series of short reflective essays, he effectively evokes the unique aspects of each garden, and offers pointers to how visitors might appreciate it; but his most memorable interpretation is of their overall style – as if, he says, “great hands gathered a mountainous territory with rocks, forests, and streams, then squeezed it – and ever more tightly – until the entire region would fit into a small city garden”. Françoise Angier
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon By Stephanie Dalley Oxford University Press. 279 pages. £25.00. ISBN 978-0-966266-5.
Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only one, the Great Pyramid of Geza, is still standing. The most intriguing of the others has always been the Hanging Garden of Babylon – said to have been built by Nebuchadnezzar II (604562BC) at his capital, Babylon on the Euphrates, and well attested by classical and biblical writers. In The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon, however, Stephanie Dalley’s brilliant piece of detective work, based on
By Jennifer Walker Book Guild. 482 pages. £20.00. ISBN 978-1-84642-851-1.
Elizabeth and her German Garden, which told of an Englishwoman’s struggles to make a life – and a garden – in late 19th-century Prussia, was a best-seller in its time and still in print today. Jennifer Walker has been tracing the turbulent life of ‘Elizabeth’ for many years (see HGR 23). She was really Mary Beauchamp, who married the Count von Arnim, and this biography admirably draws the distinctions between the carefree existence ‘Elizabeth’ described in ‘GG’ and other successful books, and the often depressing reality revealed in her diaries. It also discusses her relationships with her cousin, Katherine Mansfield, and other authors, and tells us what her garden was really like. Frances Blezard
inscriptions and bas-reliefs, makes a convincing case for the garden having been made much earlier, by Sennacherib (r.705681BC) and at Nineveh on the Tigris, rather than Babylon. Dalley shows that the garden was constructed on a series of colonnaded terraces and irrigated by the newly invented device known as an Archimedes Screw, able to raise water to the top terraces. Well-written and thoughtprovoking, and certainly for the general reader. Richard Mawrey
Drawing by Terry Ball, © Stephanie Dalley
Emmarentia Botanical Gardens Johannesburg, South Africa f the 17 ‘botanical’ gardens in South Africa, those at Emmarentia in Johannesburg, established in 1968, are among the youngest. The farm of Braamfontein, which formerly occupied the land, was bought in 1886 by Louw Geldenhuys. He had a dam built in 1902 to provide work for landless farmers at the culmination of the Boer Wars and called it after his wife. Later, he donated the reservoir and 120ha (296 acres) of land, sloping westwards and upwards from it, as a public park. Many of the trees, both exotic and indigenous, date from the early 20th century, though the botanical collections were assembled only from the 1960s. The Vista, a wide sweep of sward ﬂanked by tree belts, connects the reservoir with the buildings and specialist gardens, such as the Alpine
House and herbarium, which are normally only accessible by appointment. A stream, feeding the reservoir, ﬂanks the side of this grassland. Here reeds and other aquatic plants fringe the lakes formed by two smaller dams and provide an important habitat for many birds, including the Southern Red Bishop, Euplectes orix, a spectacularly plumaged weaver bird. The open grassland rises towards the Melville Koppies, which lie beyond the gardens and form the last conserved remnant of Johannesburg’s ridges as they were before the advent of gold mining in 1886. The identiﬁcation of groups of same species trees is clearer on the maps distributed through the grounds than by the plants because labelling is usually absent. The succulent garden does,
Above: The water canal in the rose garden is fed by animal masks through an intermediate collecting pond. Below: Overlooking the upper stream course.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
by Robert Peel however, label its plants, from which we learn that the exuberant one threatening to overwhelm its neighbours is the Krantz aloe, Aloe arborescens. To the north of the Vista are the more formal and intensively planted landscapes. The main attraction for most visitors is the rose garden, a series of shallow terraces laid out in the 1960s. Ruddy brown sandstone forms the retaining walls, the edges of ﬂowerbeds and the steps linking the terraces. A single water course creates the central axis, cascading over the terrace edges in waterfalls, spat through the mouths of stone masks of lions, buffalo, crocodiles, even a ferocious baboon. The result is alternating sheets of passive stillness with surfaces ruﬄed by thin lateral jets of Generalife inspiration. It culminates at the lowest level in a large demi-lune of water punctuated by the plumes of a tall fountain. The well-tended beds of roses are estimated to display 4,500 different varieties and they accommodate the National Rose Trial Grounds for South
Africa. On the highest level of the rose garden is a digniﬁed monument to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the Huguenot community in South Africa. The adjacent circular Shakespeare Garden is planted with herbs mentioned in his plays, while a separate herb garden includes a section devoted to African medicinal herbs.
by Robert Peel VERDICT • In a city where street walking is discouraged, the opportunity to roam a well-kept open landscape, refreshingly green in the summer rainy season and with wide views beyond its boundaries, is very welcome. But don’t expect to leave with a much greater understanding of South African ﬂora.
The botanical gardens are administered by the City Parks Departments and in 2004 Johannesburg residents voted them the best passive recreation space in the city. Yet as a
botanic garden Emmarentia is a disappointment since its educational function is muted. In the young grove of Podocarpaceae, for example, there is no information board to stress the significance of two of its species, P. falcatus and P. latifolius, to the flora of the Western Cape of South Africa. Known as Yellowwoods and now given the highest level of protection after extensive exploitation, these evergreens are the remnant giants of the coastal forest of Knysna.
INFORMATION JOHANNESBURG BOTANICAL GARDENS & EMMARENTIA DAM Olifants Road, Emmarentia, Johannesburg, South Africa. Tel: +27 (011) 712-6600 www.jhbcityparks.com Entry: No charge. Open: Every day from dawn to dusk.
Below: Contrasting treatment of water in the rose garden.
AMENITIES A shaded restaurant serves light food and drink, but the banks of the reservoir with tables are devoid of grass through excessive footfall by both humans and water birds. A request to report any sighting of snakes to the curator of the Johannesburg zoo is prominently displayed at the main gates off Olifants Road. Although the gardens have a dedicated education centre and staff, the casual visitor is not well provided with advice, and scarcely any information, either verbal or written, is on offer from the kiosk beside the main gates. There is safe parking from access points in Thomas Bowler, Orange and The Braids roads.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
South Korea – The Land of Morning Calm By Alison Partridge he juxtaposition of the traditional with the cacophony of ultra-modern glitz and steel sets the scene for the fascinating world of South Korea. For a country with over 4,000 years of history, it is remarkable that the West is only just becoming aware of it as a tourist destination. It is this history and the topography (70 per cent of the landmass is mountainous) that has shaped the society, philosophy, culture and economy of this jewel in the south Asian crown. Most visits to Korea will start in Seoul. The city is a sea of high density housing, mega-storey oﬃce buildings, gridlocked traﬃc and yet, around nearly every corner, you will ﬁnd a reminder that here is a society committed to creating a living green space for the human soul. The Buddhist principle of Yin and Yang is pervasive in every aspect of Korean life, whether it be cityscape, cuisine or the massive K-Pop invasion sweeping the West. In the heart of the traditional Insadong district of central Seoul is Changdeokgung Palace and the Secret (Rear) Garden. The garden, built in 1405, has been restored many times but retains the aura of the oasis it was intended to be: a forbidden place for the recreational use of the royal family.
Above: Hyatt Hotel, Seoul-Incheon Airport. Below: The Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace.
It is an exquisite complex of pavilions, ponds and woods in harmony with the natural surroundings that crystallises the feeling that in the midst of chaos you can ﬁnd calm. Forty kilometres (24 miles) north-east of Seoul is the Garden of Morning Calm. The garden is the creation of Professor Han Sang-Kyung of the Sahmyook University who visited the Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island and became inspired to create a world-famous garden for Korea. His journey began in 1996 and almost 20 years later the results are wondrous. Of particular note among the 20 gardens is the Sunken Garden, planted on both sides to represent the desire for South and North Korea to be reunited. While there have been gardens throughout the long history of Korea, these have primarily been part of palaces, pagodas or parks. The Garden of Morning Calm was the ﬁrst to adopt the concept of a ‘garden’ and is the oldest among private Korean gardens open for year-round enjoyment. The historic signiﬁcance of this garden speaks to the development and future of Korea as a destination. Two hours (by high-speed train) south east of Seoul is the ancient capital of the Shilla Dynasty (57BC to 935AD), for many the cultural heart of Korea. Amongst the many historically signiﬁcant palaces, temples, grottos and tombs is the enchanting Anapchi Pond. This was a place of relaxation that the Shilla achieved by combining water and trees in peace with the natural surroundings, as is signiﬁcant in all Korean gardens. Not far away is Bulguksa, Temple of the Buddha land, a remarkable shrine that blends into the mountain while enhanced by beautiful natural ‘gardens’ celebrating enlightenment. HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Above: The Garden of Morning Calm.
Crossing the south of the Korean peninsula, through rice ﬁelds, steel plants and with glimpses of the Korean Strait in the bustling East China Sea, the motorway leads to Suncheon Bay and one of the world’s most ecologically signiﬁcant and beautiful coastal wetlands. Populated by vast ﬁelds of reeds, wetland plants and 25 species of rare birds, a walk in this park is a joy and a reminder once more of the reverence with which the Koreans treat their natural wonders while all round progress prevails. In 2013 The Suncheon Bay Garden Expo is open from 20 April to 20 October. This is an International Garden Expo sanctioned by the Association of Horticultural Producers and, while an amazing Expo in its own right, the site will be retained as a garden/park to buffer the urban spread of the city of Suncheon so as to protect the wetlands. South Korea is a fascinating country and the wealth of historical and cultural experiences to be had cannot be underestimated. And while the journey may at times feel frenetic, the balance is always restored – by a ﬁeld of golden rape-seed, a hillside of indigenous wild azaleas or a wall of wisteria clinging to the side of the Samsung headquarters.
Alison Partridge's career spans work in the travel and tourism industry in Canada, New Zealand and the UK. For many years she was Director of PR & Marketing at the Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island and now has her own garden tourism consultancy based in the UK.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Above: Anapchi Pond.
Above: Suncheon Bay Wetlands Ecological Park.
Chelsea Flower Show 2013 London he Royal Horticultural Society’s main ﬂower show, held in May every year, moved to its present site in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, one hundred years ago, having been held on other sites in London since 1827. A centenary is a time of celebration, reﬂection and looking forward, and as I walked around the show ground this year I considered all three and the extent to which they were satisﬁed. On arrival, I was not really aware of any special celebratory factor except that the catalogue is called Souvenir, cost £10 (instead of last year’s £5) and throughout the day I was invited to spend a further £2 by volunteers who told me about
the society’s scheme to encourage young people into horticulture. As a Member of the RHS, I had already received all this information and been asked for a donation, so this was just a little bit irritating.
Above: The M&G Centenary Garden, designed by Roger Platts. © RHS.
Below: Phillip Johnson’s Trailﬁnders Australian Garden. Photo: Wendy Ziegler
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
by Wendy Ziegler But let us move on to the positives. The show gardens dominated the crowd interest and the use of native plants, shrubs and trees was a strong theme. Christopher Bradley-Hole’s garden, sponsored by the Daily Telegraph newspaper, showed his artistry with soft planting in between strong blocks of yew and box with the spare use of single red peonies. Roger Platt’s Centenary Garden, sponsored by M&G Investments, used plants from the last hundred years to show how gardens have developed over that time, right up to the use of grasses that continued the soft planting theme. Phillip Johnson’s Trailﬁnders Australian Garden for Fleming’s Nurseries saw a welcome return to a monumental rock garden on Rock Garden Bank. This recreation of a billabong, powered by solar panels to circulate the water, sat well with today’s aim to conserve and reuse water and provide much-needed wildlife habitat, and won the Best in Show trophy. Following this theme, the Blue Water Roof Garden, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada, was a wonderful example of roof gardening, with many features that could be translated into any small terrace or balcony. The Centenary Trail was not a very strong theme, though delightful when you came across it. Hoardings showing photographs of past shows were dotted around the grounds, some showing characters we remember. Beatrix Havergal stands proudly in front of her Waterperry strawberries, evoking the perfume of that delicious fruit. The RHS Plant of the Centenary Display in the Great Pavilion was an excellent reminder of the plants that have been
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
introduced over the past century to become the ‘must haves’ of many gardens today. The public was given the chance to vote for their choice of Plant of the Centenary. On the next stand was the Lindley Library exhibit, which was a surprising box, shaped like a house, and covered in images of Chelsea’s History. There was no one from the library to talk to you, just a large box! The Great Pavilion was full of plants, the stall holders as informative and enthusiastic as ever. There were some stunning bulb displays: Walker’s Bulbs & Taylors had a pristine stand of daffodils (in May!), while Warmenhaven had a large, striking display of hanging amaryllis and upright alliums. McBeans, one of the exhibitors at the ﬁrst Chelsea show, gave us another wonderful orchid display. The catalogue advised that many of the exhibitors had centenary-themed displays; this was not very clear, although occasionally an exhibitor was dressed in costume from an earlier era. Outside, the stands of garden furniture, statuary and metal sculptures gave an excellent opportunity to see what is on the market. Haddonstone’s
small display of traditional planters was enhanced by a timeline of pictures showing the use of garden statuary over the centuries, including the company’s beginnings in 1971. The Artisan Gardens on Serpentine Walk did not disappoint. The Japanese Tokonoma Garden was executed with precision and won best Artisan garden, but the freer designs of the Hebridean Weaver’s Garden and the Garden for Water Aid, both gold medallists, were more to my liking. Overall a good show but not memorable, as the Centenary Chelsea should have been.
Above: Haddonstone’s stand, showing the timeline.
Below: ‘Herbert Smith Freehills’ garden for WaterAid designed by Patricia Thirion and Janet Honour. © RHS.
Good News from France, Scotland, Argentina, England and the United States.
Renaissance Revival For many years the château and gardens of Esquelbecq, in the little town of the same name in the very north of France, not far from Dunkirk, were in a sorry state of dereliction. The impressive brick-built château is medieval in origin, modernised in 1606. Over the centuries it had many owners, and, like most of Flanders, both town and château were much fought over and frequently damaged. The castle and outbuildings were listed (inscrit) in 1944 (how extraordinary that anyone was bothering about such things at the time!) and in 1978 were considered signiﬁcant enough to appear on a French postage stamp. But the property was already deteriorating and the central tower collapsed in 1984. Even so, the whole site was relisted at a higher level (classé) in 1987. Behind the château lies an informal park, which still has some ﬁne trees and dates perhaps from the time of Alphonse Bergerot, a politician who owned the property in the 19th century. But, in spite of a rumour that Le Nôtre worked here at some point, the importance of
Esquelbecq’s garden lies in its Renaissance potager – an extremely rare survival of such an early fruit and vegetable garden. Divided into three large box-edged squares, it stretches along one side of the moat, slightly elevated above it and linked to the château by a bridge. From the outside, it is the diagonals of the espaliered pear trees in the ﬁrst section that you see through the railings
Good News in Brief Edinburgh University has agreed to secure the future of Little Sparta, Ian Hamilton Finlay’s extraordinary garden in Lanarkshire (see HGR 16), which, since the death of its creator in 2006, has struggled to balance its books. More visitors might have brought more income but could have damaged the fragile paths and artworks. Now it will become a study centre for art scholars in a deal that guarantees a safe income. 44
We reported in HGR 27 on the threat a windfarm was posing to the 16th-century garden at Lyveden New Bield in Northants. Permission had been given for four 126.5m turbines which would tower over this most evocative of landscapes. But last March a High Court judge ruled that insuﬃcient priority had been given to possible harm to a heritage setting, and sent the project back for reconsideration. Owners, the National Trust, hope that is the end of it.
in the town square – and a glimpse of an urn set where they meet. And, sadly, that is all. The owner does not allow visitors and this year did not even open, as in the past, for the Journées du Patrimoine. Nevertheless, after many years during which this important site was allowed to deteriorate, her current restoration is most welcome.
Three initiatives have been announced that should help historic gardens in the UK. From September 2014 horticulture
will form part of the curriculum in schools in England and Wales; there is now a Heritage category for the ‘Britain in Bloom’ competition; and England’s Law Commission has proposed a system whereby owners of historic sites can enter into ‘conservation covenants’ binding them and their successors to preserve the character of the site for future generations. HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Victory over the Vandals Paseo Intendente Alvear is one of the oldest public gardens in Buenos Aires. Laid out by Argentina’s most famous landscape architect, Charles Thays (1849–1934), and inaugurated in the 1880s, it is the main park of the Recoleta area, the city’s best known tourist, historical and cultural landmark. Originally known as the Paseo de la Recoleta, when the post of Intendente of Buenos Aires was created in 1883, Don Torcuato de Alvear was its ﬁrst incumbent and, after his death in 1890, the park was renamed after him. To the horror of local inhabitants and conservationists, in early 2012 workmen suddenly moved into the park in order to build a new station for the subway.
Hundreds of trees were destroyed and the park devastated. There was widespread outrage – demonstrations and petitions. Together with Basta De Demoler (a heritage protection NGO) we started legal action to halt the destruction of the park. In March 2013, the city administration backed down, announcing an ‘enhanced reconstruction of the historical garden to better serve the current activities’. In accordance with the Florence Charter, we insisted that a professional landscaper should be employed. The scheme was inaugurated
in July 2013. The city administration pretended this was the result of ‘good governmental policies’ but in reality it was a victory for conservationists and the people of Buenos Aires. Sonia Berjman
Florida Flourishes Again One of the privileges of wealth is that it does enable you to hire the best. In the 1890s Wellington and Ada Cummer and their sons, Arthur and Waldo, moved from Michigan in the north of the US to Jacksonville, Florida, in the south, where they acquired a prime site on the banks of
the St Johns River. The Cummers had made a fortune from lumber (timber) and they spent it well. They went to America’s top landscape architects to design three striking gardens along the riverside. In 1910 Arthur’s wife Ninah employed Thomas Meehan and Sons to lay out an English Garden. In 1931, after both parents had died, the sons divided the property. Ninah brought in Ellen Biddle Shipman to create the stunning Italian Garden, while Waldo’s wife Clara called on America’s most prestigious landscape Left: Clara Cummer in about 1939 in her garden designed by Olmsted Brothers.
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firm, Olmsted Brothers, to lay out the rest of the site. Of the three, the Olmsted Garden fared worst. When the present Cummer Museum was built in 1960 to house Ninah’s art collection it inherited the English and Italian Gardens, which had survived virtually intact and do to this day. But Clara’s property was acquired by an insurance company which obliterated part of the Olmsted Garden and allowed the rest to fall into decay. The Museum, which bought the insurance company’s buildings in 1990 to expand its exhibition space, decided to restore the Olmsted Garden. Work began in 2012 and the ﬁrst phase opened to the public in April 2013, with more to follow in the autumn. Soon, this trio of gardens, a showpiece of early 20th-century US garden design, will be seen as they were in the thirties. Philip Stephen 45
Bad News from France, Italy, Ireland, Europe and the UK.
Restore the House: Neglect the Garden The Casina delle Civette, in the park of the famous Villa Torlonia in Rome, was designed by Giuseppe Valadier in a neoclassical style in the early 19th century. (There are other Villas Torlonia, because the family was large and rich.) A landscape garden was created round the Villa Torlonia by Giuseppe Jappelli. It contained several small buildings, including a Capanna Svizzera or Swiss Cottage, which Prince Giovanni Torlonia Jr had rebuilt in the early 20th century as a very private house for himself. It was then given the name Casina delle Civette or Small House of the Owls, and the prince lived here until his death in 1938. He was very interested in ceramics, and in design in general, and allowed only the best materials to be used for this house and employed the best artists of the day to do it in Art Nouveau style – in the very best Italian manner. The interiors of the house are, indeed, exquisite, and have recently been beautifully restored.
So it made me all the more sad to see that not much care had been lavished on the water feature directly by the outer wall of the house, with algae and dirt spoiling it, too little water in the lowest compartment, plantings missing or the boxes for them not planted, the planted ones not weeded or the plants not trimmed. Eeva Ruoff
Loss of Yet Another Botanic Garden The current economic crisis falls hard on the garden heritage. It also provides one very good example of oﬃcial lack of joined-up thinking. Moorbank Botanic Garden was set up in the early 1920s by what is now the
University of Newcastle as a university botanic garden. It was extended in 1980 on the bequest of an important plant collection and was not only a research garden but also a pleasant place to visit and a learning tool for local schools. In 2012 two things happened. First, the garden received money from the UK Heritage Lottery Fund to improve access to the gardens and then the University suddenly announced that it would not be renewing its lease of the site when it expired in November 2013. The garden will simply be handed back to the owners, the Freemen of Newcastle, an ancient organisation, once a major body of citizens of the City but nowadays a charity with an educational and conservation remit.
A rescue plan was put forward by the Friends of Moorbank, who have done general maintenance for the past decade, but the Freemen did not consider it made a viable business case. The Freemen say the 3ha (81⁄2 acre) garden will not be incorporated into the Town Moor, the 400ha (989 acre) common adjoining the botanic garden. But the collection of rare plants, some not found in other UK botanic gardens, will be dispersed and the tropical glasshouse is likely to go. So the ﬁnancial crisis has led to the demise of yet another historic garden. Presumably the Lottery money will still be available and will do some good, but one is left wondering why people simply do not think things through. Richard Mawrey HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Delays and Drought in Paris HGR 24 carried an Optimist report about major renovation work underway at Parc André Citroën in Paris. This iconic space, installed in 1992 at a cost of around €59m, had, by 2010, become dilapidated – but repairs seemed to be in hand. A visit to the park in summer 2013 revealed that this optimism was probably misplaced. Much of the planting remains reasonably well maintained, and some repair work has been carried out on the paths and glasshouses. The park’s central water features, however, continue to be in a deplorable state. The shallow moat that surrounds the main lawn, which was empty for so long, has been ﬁlled again with water, but contains an astonishing amount of blanket weed and algae (top right). Almost all the other water features remain empty and cordoned off, including the 250m-long (820ft) elevated canal to the west, the waterfalls at the river end of the park, and the series of rills and cascades that join the six individual gardens to the main lawn (middle right). Only the 120 vertical water jets between the glasshouses, popular with the young for cooling off during the Paris summer, are functional.
Another troubling development is that one large area has been cleared in preparation for a much trumpeted €3.9m extension to the park. Plans announced early in 2012 included innovative play areas, refreshment stalls, the park’s ﬁrst toilets, and substantial new plantings of clipped hawthorn and hornbeam, plus a mass of Judas trees. The extension was due to open this summer. But the space (bottom right) is now simply fenced off, weeds establishing themselves on the piles of earth, and no obvious work underway. Paris City Council has told us that the repairs and the planned extension remain in hand, but there is no explanation for the delay, and no published timetable for any of the work. Parc André Citroën continues to be visited by both Parisians and tourists, with kids frolicking in the water jets and hundreds of people picnicking on the lawn every weekend. But its woeful state is a reminder that creating important new parks is not enough; cities also need to set aside suﬃcient and continuing funds for their proper maintenance. Jill Sinclair
Bad News in Brief Mount Congreve Gardens, Co. Waterford, Ireland (see HGR 28) unexpectedly closed to the public in April in a dispute between the Irish State and the trust which owns the gardens. What was already limited public access was completely stopped at the height of the garden’s season, much to the frustration of garden visitors and tour operators.
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The UK conservation body GreenSpace has been forced to close. In its 12 years of existence it worked hard to professionalise the management of public parks and other green spaces, but its funding came almost entirely from local authorities, and when their budgets were slashed by central government, parks, as so often, were an easy target for economies.
Two box diseases have already aﬀected major gardens across Europe, including the Parc de St Cloud near Paris. One is a caterpillar Cydalima perspectalis and the other an airborne fungus – or rather two, Cylindrocladium buxicola and Volutella buxi. So heavily do formal gardens in mainland Europe rely on their structure of box hedges, it would be catastrophic if these problems were to spread further. e French government is sponsoring urgent research. 47
Issue 29 - October 2013