June 16, 2011

The Wild English Gardens

Photo by Gertrude Jekyll

Stearns and I were talking about how much we love English gardens.  They are just this side of wild.  They may have grassy paths, and a few structured beds, but mostly there are wild, overgrown, glorious glorious tangles of plants bursting with life and interest. Their paths turn, so that every step presents a new vista. And they mix in the humble practical plants of the kitchen (sage, lavender, allium) with the jewels of the plant world (peonies, roses, etc.). I love them more than any manicured lawn, or genteel stone path.  (So, yes, I want to add this book to my coffee table collection.)

(PS. Have you been following Wonderment, my photography blog? This week I am featuring photos of the US Arboretum, which has a few wild spots in it, too--especially the glorious azalea garden.)

Update: Mr. F just sent me this awesome article about his great-great-great-etc grandfather--John Bartram--who is responsible for "free[ing] England from the corset of patterns and topiary that gardeners had imposed on nature in the 17th and early 18th century."  His house and gardens are still in Philadelphia and open to the public. I always thought the arboretums and gardens in Southern Pennsylvania were distinctly English (the Delaware ones are all DuPont estates and therefore very french).  Now I see the British ones are distinctly American.  Hurrah for the Colonies!

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