For the past two weeks, hungry for some summer color, I immersed myself in English garden videos of all sizes and stripes. One thirty minute episode of A Gardener’s Diary a week is not enough to survive the ups and downs of winter.
On Netflix, I ordered The Art & Practice of Gardening with Penelope Hobhouse. Although I enjoyed this show, I still like A Gardener’s Diary better, which is kind of an American version of the televised British garden visit. When I ran out of the first disc of Ms. Hobhouse, I went to Amazon in search of more.
As an aside, why doesn’t HGTV put A Gardener’s Diary on DVD? I would be first in line to buy it. I’d love to take notes on the one gardener who had all of the Japanese maples. I know I could record it, but the teens in this house keep erasing the episodes. For some reason, when the DVR gets full, they think the garden stuff must go. When I ask who did it, three innocent, angelic faces look back at me. Harrumph.
While on Amazon, I bought the Great Gardens of England, which are visits with gardeners all over. Once I got past the accents, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how diverse the microclimates and styles of gardening are across the pond.
I’m also doing some extra research for an article for Oklahoma Gardener magazine on cottage style gardening. Cottage style is my style, but it’s great to see the experts doing their thing too.
In my latest foray, the gardens were beautiful and varied, and I learned something important from my viewing. Many of the gardens, from the smallest plot to the largest estate, were inherited (both literally and figuratively). In Great Britain, many homeowners received a garden when they bought their home. Nearly every featured landscape was in a mature state and many were described as either an “Edwardian garden with Victorian influences” or as a “mature woodland” or an “heirloom herbaceous border.” One man in particular struck my fancy when he talked about his garden being started by his grandfather who was a plant hunter two generations before. Grandfather would take seeds from all over the world and then see if he could grow them at his home. This lovely man was surrounded by mature deciduous magnolias and other plants which were unique. Just seeing how much he cared for this garden cheered my winter weary heart.
I was so touched by this story, that I discussed it with my non-gardening mother. I was telling her about the latest DVD and how everyone tended these gardens from multiple generations, and she, who has visited England, said people there rarely throw anything away. She said they see places as historic instead of as simply old, and they are willing to do what’s necessary to care for them.
I see it as the ultimate in recycling; taking care of what’s already there and seeing what comes from it.
In America, when a family moves into a new home, they want to make it their own so they redo it and its environs as soon as possible. Perhaps, that’s why HGTV is full of redecorating, refurbishing, removing, redoing; well . . . you get the idea. On the other hand, Great Britain has its own garden network.
I think we could learn something from them. Don’t you?