Everyone Who Loves a Garden
For everyone who loves a garden, The Garden of Eden was said to contain ‘every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.’ No garden since has had the same spiritual significance, yet all through the ages gardens have been symbols of splendour and places of peace. In Babylon, the Hanging Gardens were of such magnificence that they became one of the Seven Wonders of the World; the Empress Josephine’s garden at Malmaison was a botanical extravagance with arbours and architectural follies set among the rarest plants that Napoleon’s empire could produce; for Winston Churchill the garden at Chartwell was a retreat where, in the darkest hours of the war, an afternoon’s bricklaying took his mind off momentous problems.
For most of us a garden is a private refuge where we can satisfy our need for beauty, tranquility and achievement. The garden provides a link with Nature, for in each plant, and in the smallest creatures that live in its shadow or draw life from its substance, lie the balance and harmony of the living world. In the growth of a seed, to seedling and then to full blossom, the miracle of life itself is revealed.
Each garden is an entity, creating from its share of the sun and rain and the qualities of theits own unique character. This, perhaps, is the fascination of gardening, and why men have always written about their gardens — about their beauty, the richness of their produce and the manner of their cultivation.
This website sets out to portray the garden in all its aspects: to give all the basic information necessary for good husbandry, and to reveal the pleasures and excitement to be found in the garden.
We begin, therefore, by tracing the history and evolution of the garden, and the origins of many well-known plants. This is a story of adventure — of explorers and botanists who brought from remote corners of the earth the plants that now flourish in our gardens. But the greater adventure is the story of how plants live and function — how they feed, grow, breathe; how they reproduce their kind; how they survive drought and hard seasons. This basic knowledge leads to an understanding of the special needs of each plant. It is helpful to know, too, something about the soil and its water supply, its minerals and organic foods; of the part played by earthworms and other soil creatures; and of the kinds of plants which flourish in varying soil conditions.
The three main sections of the website cover the known and tried varieties of fruits, flowers and vegetables, the familiar and much loved plants of our gardens. But their cultivation is not the whole of gardening today. There is growing interest in the rarer varieties of plants and in the cultivation of, and other house plants; there are water gardens, , and exotic orchids; there is the planning, the construction of paths and pergolas. And after the labour comes the reaping, the making of preserves and pickles, wines and pot-pourri; the many ways in which fruit, flowers, vegetables and herbs can be used in the home.
But these volumes look beyond the plant world; they look at all life in the garden. There are birds to watch, a changing and varied procession of insects, as well as the larger wild creatures that sometimes stray into the garden. Every member of the animal world has its influence, often good but sometimes destructive.
Much of the work in a garden is governed by the weather. Advice on cultivation has therefore been given for the climate which might be expected in the middle of England in an average year. As spring comes to the north of Britain later than to the south, planting programmes need to be adapted accordingly. There are also minor but significant variations in temperature and humidity that create different growing conditions in different corners of the same garden.
More than sixty authorities have contributed to these volumes: writers, consultants and artists, men and women who have come to specialize in a branch of horticulture. They offer the advice and guidance gained through many years of practical experience.
The illustrations have been specially drawn in the manner of old herbals, in which the form and structure of the plant was thought to be of the first importance. Colour has, therefore, been subordinated to form, and is used to give only an indication of the tones that are so vivid in the living plants.
The thought behind this website is best expressed by the words of Rudyard Kipling: ‘the glory of the garden lies in more than meets the eye.’