Arts and Crafts Gardens book report

A while ago, I made a list of Arts and Crafts garden books I’d like to read before planning my new garden. I got two for Christmas thanks to my mom, who faithfully clicks in every day to see if I’ve written anything. I have now read (or at least started): (1) Gardens of the Arts and Crafts Movement: Reality and Imagination, by Judith B. Tankard and (2) Gertrude Jekyll’s Lost Garden, by Rosamund Wallinger.

What I learned?

  • Jekyll rhymes with treacle.
  • Jekyll is known for her borders and drifts.
  • Jekyll kept an abbreviated set of her garden plans so that she could consult if need be.
    • Many of these abbreviated plans are in California.*
    • Translating her shorthand (often an illegible set of three letters) into a Latin species name is hard.
  • Other Arts and Crafts gardens were not planned by gardeners, but by architects, and were often impractical.
  • Most surprising to me, many of these gardens used lots of topiaries.
    • Because that’s what the 16th century gardeners did.
    • I was expecting a more “natural” approach, but instead I found a sculptured approach. At least so far. I’m only a third of the way through Tankard’s book.

As for the books themselves, Tankard’s book is densely written — which means trouble for a skimmer like myself. Ros’s book is charming, although she expects me to know more about her than I do. (I gather she has become famous for recreating Jekyll’s garden from almost nothing and lecturing about it.) Her pictures are lovely, too.

Thanks, Mother, I am enjoying them.  And my conclusion, for now, is that Arts and Crafts gardens can be whatever I want them to be.  I’ll probably wind up with borders and drifts instead of topiaries.  I have enough trouble keeping my hair cut.  (I may wind up with some box borders, though.)

*The plans wound up in California because of something to do with WWII, the Red Cross, and New England — maybe Vermont. Perhaps like the Von Trapp family?  We watched the Sound of Music Sunday night.  The Little One was appalled that Rolf joined the Nazis and was chasing the Von Trapps.  “But he was in love with Liesel!”  She also appreciated Greta being 5, “just like me.”

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