An Artistic Admiral

When Rupert Murdoch bought a new house for his [apparently soon-to-be-ex-] wife Jerry Hall in 2019 I wonder if he knew much about its history. Holmwood in the village of Binfield Heath near Henley cost over £11 million which might have surprised the person who lived there in the late 18thc/early 19thc,  Mark Kerr.

Apart from being the son of a marquis and having a distinguished naval career Kerr was also a talented amateur artist and seems to have had a particular interest in sketching gardens and landscapes including his own at Holmwood. While his work isn’t as colourful or witty as that of his contemporary Diana Sperling who I wrote about recently they still give a real insight in to a garden of the time.

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Floral Clocks

Travelling as I do often between the UK & France it’s easy to get confused about the time. Maybe it would be easier if I was using the clock invented by Carl Linnaeus the great Swedish botanist. He’s most famous of course for creating the  system  by which we we classify our plants but in 1748 he also devised a 24 hour floral clock.   I wonder if he knew that 144 years later a floral clock of a completely different kind would amaze the public in Paris, with others soon doing the same in Detroit and Edinburgh. It wasn’t long before municipal parks all over the world  were the places to go to get the correct time.

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Sherlock Holmes and her Noah’s Ark

Any idea what plant this is? If you grow them you probably know but if you don’t why not have a guess

Yes its an extraordinary title for a post but it’s about an extraordinary project.   Just before Britain celebrated the Platinum Jubilee garden lovers in France were celebrating the re-opening of an amazing garden which itself only celebrates one family of plants.   Housed in the grounds of a huge 18thc chateau it is  the brainchild of one woman who has been building her collection – now the largest in the world – for  less than 20 years and only made it public in 2016.  To make matters more unusual it’s only open a few weeks each year.

Any ideas of Who? What? Why? and Where?

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Victorian Jubilations

The Victorian  age saw public parks springing up all round the country. Rapid urbanization and industrialization led to poor housing, grinding poverty and fears of social unrest.   Parks were seen, by reformers, as one way of diffusing potential problems as well as improving the health and lives – to say nothing of  the morals-  of their working-class users.

Increasingly too, the creation of new parks  became a symbol of civic pride.

It was also the age of empire with years running up to the First World War  marking the high point of Britain’s imperial power.  These three factors coincided neatly with Queen Victoria’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees in 1887 and 1897.

 

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Georgian Jubilation

“England’s public parks and gardens have played a central role in the celebration and the commemoration of royal jubilees for more than two hundred years. The roll call of jubilee gardens, coronation parks, queen’s parks and parks named after princes and princesses reflect these special associations from the Victorian era to modern times. Many of these parks and gardens are of special historic interest and protected by designations.”

Those words of Baroness Andrews, the then chair of Historic England prefaced the publication in 2012 of Jubilee-ation a short history of Royal Jubilees in public park,  to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  It was largely written by my fellow Gardens Trust trustee, David Lambert, and it remains a good read.

Ten years on with the first ever royal Platinum Jubilee I thought over the next couple of weeks it would be a nice gesture to look back at the subject again and also see how things have developed. But I’m going to start earlier than that.

God Save the King.                                                                                                                                                   Print issued for Golden Jubilee of George III. [Historic Royal Palaces & Mary Evans Picture Library]

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