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HORTUS  124  (Winter 2017)
HORTUS 124 (Winter 2017)


Price (not including postage) 9.50



Extracts From The Current Issue
From the editor's introduction to HORTUS 124
Snatch any opportunity you can to see Maurice Foster's garden at White House Farm near Sevenoaks in Kent. It's not easy - you might have to join a tour organised by a garden or plant society in order to do so as it is not open to casual visitors. The effort will pay substantial dividends. Consisting largely of woody plants, these fifteen acres, approaching in part some thirty-five years of maturity, comprise a bosky mélange of informal beds brimming with roses and unfamiliar hydrangeas at their peak in summer and early autumn. Earlier, there are magnolias, rhododendrons and camellias - many grown from seed collected by Maurice on his several visits to Asia. Beyond lies the decade-younger arboretum, enfolding an exceptional collection of rare and unfamiliar trees and shrubs, again mostly grown from seed of recorded provenance collected by Maurice himself in cool temperate regions of the world. It's a cornucopia of uncommon oaks, sorbus, maples, hornbeams, alders, birches, berberis, deutzias and ever more roses - numerous climbing roses too: 'If you've got a tree, grow a rose up it', I heard him once declare…


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From: 'Tradescant's Diary' by Hugh Johnson
15 August 2017: To Kew to see the new Broad Walk Borders, all six hundred and forty yards of them, in their midsummer glory. Eighteen months after their inauguration they are splendidly established, and on a sunny weekend thronged with admirers. There was a long queue at the Victoria Gate waiting to get in, but
then there is more than ever to see and do. The balancing act between botanical garden and public attraction is not easy, but Kew is managing it well. There are a few visitors who complain that the museum building facing the Palm House over the pond is now a restaurant, but I'm sure there are more who are pleased to have a grown-up restaurant as an alternative to the predictable cafes.
The Broad Walk Borders are a wonderful tour de force, interspersing the cream of modern cultivars of the best herbaceous plants with things you won't see outside Kew's collections. I spent the best part of an hour admiring each side and its ingenious themes of plant families and reproductive systems. To solve the near-impossible puzzle of labelling in herbaceous borders there are plant keys at intervals, stylised coloured diagrams of each section that make it easy to identify the bold blocks and sweeps of different colours, sizes and habits.
Meanwhile the Temperate House is beginning to emerge from the covers that have hidden its years of restoration as possibly the greatest plant palace on earth. Next summer we shall see its full glory, too.




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From 'It's the Flowers: Winter at Coton Manor, Northamptonshire' by Susie Pasley-Tyler
It may sound perverse, but when I am asked which is my favourite season in the garden, I often reply that it is winter. The burgeoning growth of spring is full of beauty and promise; the richness of colour and the mass of flowers in summer is a feast for the eyes; autumn with its russet colours and bounteous fruit is glorious, but there is a clarity and simplicity about the winter garden which has great appeal for me. Maybe it is because I was born in December or perhaps it is just that by this stage of the year one has had a glut of abundance and it is good to clear the palate and appreciate the structure of the garden, the silhouettes of the trees and the variety of greens which adorn the winter garden, to enjoy views which are shielded by growth in summer and, of course, marvel at heart-stopping sunsets. In the winter months one has time to focus on the beauty of individual plants, shrubs, and trees. Although ours is not a garden where geometry prevails, with the absence of leaves and flowers, the contrast between the strong horizontals of walls, hedges and lawns and the verticals of Irish yews and other trees allows the structure of the garden to reveal itself…


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From 'Great Students, Great Plants, Great Dixter' introduced by Fergus Garrett
Since Christopher Lloyd's death in 2006, Great Dixter's students have played a major part in keeping the place alive and joyous. Their energy and enthusiasm has been a catalyst to the place. No one could ever replace Christo, but in their own way these youngsters have filled the gap he left. From all over the world - Japan, China, Turkey, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy and Sweden - they have brought inquisitiveness and a spark. Education was paramount to Christo and continues to sit at the centre of our existence. [Seven students write about their favourite plant in the garden in winter].



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From 'Good Weeds… or Just Harden Nomads' by John Akeroyd
I've always found weeds fascinating and surely it's hard not to tolerate or even encourage at least some. The English cottage garden tradition has long accepted a number of what many people would regard as weeds alongside the flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs. For my own part, aside from those perennials with persistent spreading rhizomes - hedge and field bindweed, couch-grass, creeping thistle, ground-elder, horsetail, nettles and perennial sow thistle - I put up with most weeds, albeit in moderate quantity, though an infestation can yield nutrient-rich compost. There may be other fringe bene ts: for example, comfrey in the heap may provide basic nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK), but the widespread annual weed sun spurge (Euphorbia helioscopia) accumulates the trace-element boron. In my article for HORTUS 93 on weed origins and evolution, I borrowed a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, which says that 'a weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered'. I wrote too of how, by chance, one of my favourite annual weeds, weasel's snout (Misopates orontium), a neat miniature pink snapdragon, non-aggressive and a rare native 'arable wild flower', appeared on my previous allotment...



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From 'The Small Producer. Gardens in the Life of Ford Madox Ford. Part Two : France' by Tim Longville
Partly Ford and Bowen moved to Paris, where Ford founded and edited The Transatlantic Review and socialised with and published Joyce and Hemingway and Pound and Stein and had the eighteen- year-old Basil Bunting as his office boy. And partly, in the end, they moved to Ford's beloved Provence, which he had known since childhood, his father having been a great friend and passionate admirer of the Provençal poet, Frédéric Mistral. They spent one winter in the navy town of Toulon, on the recommendation of the painter Juan Gris. (Abstemious by nature, already ill and soon to die, Gris was appalled by Ford's eating and, particularly, by his drinking. 'He absorbs a terrifying amount of alcohol. I never thought one could drink so much.') Then they found the Villa Paul outside Toulon, on Cap Brun, which became Ford's European base for the rest of his life, first with Bowen, then with her successor, the Polish-Jewish-American artist, Janice Biala…



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From From 'The Tools of the Trade - Garden Implements: An Elegy'. Sixth and final part, by Peter Dale
Who said lawns had to be at? Who said every garden really should have one, or at least a platform of flatness - call it a lawn - at its heart? Why do we never put lawns along the edge of a garden but always in the middle? What does it say about the character and spirit of a garden when you see a beautifully smooth, green, clipped lawn, and then a sign telling you to KEEP OFF? There's so much cult in the culture of grass, so many hidden trespasses and taboos of taste and style. How did all this come about? How did we reach the state of compulsive verdure we are in now?
Lawn - it's an old word for ne linen, originally spelt laund - and so we glimpse a connection with laundry, with keeping surfaces and textures spick and span, and with the at pieces of laund on which you laid out the laundry to dry in the sun. There's another connection too in the archaeology of language in the case of the word land - just a piece of ordinary, open land, as opposed to wood- land, or marsh-land. It was a useful space: you could graze beasts there, or you could cultivate it. Being open, it implied a safe space with no hidden dangers, predators, foot-pads and other trouble- makers…





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From 'A Garden in the Himalayas' by Katie Campbell
The first time Purna Gurung scaled Karapu Danda he was twenty years old and looking for God. Armed with a large bag of weed he climbed for twelve hours to reach the summit, some ten thousand feet above sea level. There, amid a diorama of snow-tipped mountains and endless sky, he lit up, chilled out and waited for enlightenment. The second time Purna scaled Karapu Danda, he was looking for plants.
Twenty years ago Purna could have become just another bright village boy burned out by the hippy ethos which still prevails in lowland Nepal: his father was a Gurkha in the Indian Army, he'd been sent to boarding school in Pokhara, the nation's second city, then received a scholarship to study in Kathmandu. But after a fortnight watching his fellow students rioting and protesting he had drifted back to Pokhara where he played in a band, worked in a bar and started a club. One night a Norwegian turned up looking for a permaculture farm nearby. Purna had never heard of permaculture, but like most Nepalis he is very obliging: he offered to help; a few days later they found the place. And Purna was hooked.
He spent time as an intern at the farm in Nepal and later at the Norwegian's farm in Hvisten. He moved on to work for an NGO creating community gardens to improve the diet of rural villagers and was invited by project's sponsors, Kandoori Botanic Gardens, to study at their base in Hong Kong. After a few more deviations, he arrived in London to expand his knowledge by working as a gardener. When nobody would hire him because he didn't know the Latin names of plants, he secured a diploma from Lambeth College which taught him little Latin but lots of horticulture. In 2007, armed with a moped and a back-pack full of tools, he set up his own gardening firm. Today he continues to design, create and maintain gardens in west London, but his real passion is the Garden In The Himalayas, the botanic garden he started in 2012 in his family's village of Tanchok. This small mountain community sits at an altitude of five thousand feet, a ninety-minute drive from Pokhara - much of it on single-track dirt roads. Here, on one of the many patches of abandoned terracing which litter the countryside of rural Nepal, the village gifted him two acres to create a community garden…



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From: 'A Rogue in the Garden' by Charles Elliott
I tend to be drawn to dubious characters - forgers, book thieves, confidence men - not so much because of their villainy as their enterprise and ingenuity. Perhaps this says more about me than about them. Most work harder and in the end achieve less than their more honest counterparts, which has its charm. But I was delighted to run across a variety of miscreant new to me: a corrupt, or at least shady, gardener.
It could hardly be said, of course, that Richard Bradley was an out and out bad guy. A few commentators have remarked on his achievements (largely botanical and horticultural), but it seems clear that he was at heart a rogue, if not a particularly harmful one.
Considering that he flourished, and expired, nearly three hundred years ago, quite a bit is known about him, largely through the scholarly exertions of Frank Egerton and Richard Coulton. His birth year is generally thought to have been 1688. His father was a musician connected to the court of William and Mary. There is some evidence that Bradley himself later served as a musician too, in the court of Queen Anne, but is unlikely to have thrived in the profession. Instead, in one of his many writings, he claims to have always had 'a passion for Gardening and Planting', though it is unclear where he developed this, having spent his youth as a city boy in London. His formal education was apparently exiguous; enemies later charged him with 'entire ignorance of the learned languages'. What he did know, perhaps picked up in one of the flourishing nurseries then scattered around the edges of London, was practical horticulture. Among his friends were men like William Fairchild, the first to deliberately hybridise a flower, who was doing a roaring trade in supplying plants, shrubs and trees to the aristocracy from his establishment in Hoxton. Botany, moreover, was an enormously popular subject, especially with the number of new species beginning to reach Britain from far corners of the earth.



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From 'From the Home Patch' by Tom Petherick

As far as seasons go, this year past has not been the worst by any means. Preceded by a soft winter and a mild autumn, with leaves tight on oak trees until mid-December, spring got off to its usual cold, dry start. I never complain about this because dry weather in February means it is possible to get work done on the kitchen garden early, when there is not too much else to do. Never am I happier than when garlic is nine inches high, planted and in the ground from a November sowing in pots. Alongside vigorous purple sprouting broccoli plants and promising Aquadulce broad beans, also from a November sowing, the shape of things to come is full of promise.
The standard outlined above (this ubiquitous word 'standard' is one I am not keen on. Now it has even found its way on to the cricket pitch, when tumbling stops in the field are rewarded with cries of 'that sets the standard'), does not represent an entirely accurate picture. The garlic did okay but only okay. By mid-June the strong early growth was sporting a vivid orange rust that hastened an early harvest. Garlic, surely, does its best work in the first half of the year but the rust meant that the bulbs were only about two thirds of the size that I had hoped for. Perhaps past grumblings about garlic being only fit for the Mediterranean came to fruition and I gave it little chance of making the grade (or setting the standard). I am eating the bulbs now and the flavour and keeping qualities are good, so no complaints; I just would have liked them a bit bigger…





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From 'Digging with the Duchess: Atlantis ho!' by Sam Llewellyn
So there we were, hunkered down by a sullen wheezing re, wearing three-piece tweed suits with double socks and extra jerseys. As you may recall, the spring and summer were wet, and come to think of it the same went for the autumn. The flowers did not, on the whole, approve, and rotted as soon as convenient, if not sooner. The trees, however, shot up like moon rockets. This fact made itself felt the other day when the Duchess, distracted from her usual occupation of laughing heartily at the Deaths in The Times, complained that she could not see to read. This was due, she further pointed out, to the number of branches that had interposed themselves between her newspaper and the dim grey light source formerly known as the sun. Why on earth, she asked, did someone not ruddy well do something about them, such as cut them off?...



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Book Reviews:
Head Gardeners
by Ambra Edwards; reviewed by Tim Richardson

Five Lose Dad in the Garden Centre
by Bruno Vincent; reviewed by Sophie Beveridge

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Judith Tankards composite review of recent American titles:
Gardens of the High Line
by Piet Oudolf

The Art of Gardening:
Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer
by R. William Thomas

The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden
by Johanna Silver

The Inspired Landscape:
Twenty-one Leading Landscape Architects Explore the Creative Process

by Susan Cohen

All the Presidents' Gardens
by Marta McDowell

The Rockefeller Family Garden: An American Legacy
by Cynthia Bronson Altman, Todd Forrest and Cassie Banning

Warren H. Manning: Landscape Architect and Environmental Planner
edited by Robin Karson, Jane Roy Brown and Sarah Allaback

James Rose
by Dean Cardasis

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The next issue of HORTUS (Spring 2018) will be published 31 March

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