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Philippa Pearson

Behind the scenes diary for The Victorian Aviary Garden at Chelsea Flower Show and The Girlguiding UK Centenary Garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2010

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Lavender's blue, Gerty, Gerty...

Posted by Philippa Pearson on 01 Apr 2010 at 03:16 PM

An area of the Girlguiding UK Centenary garden at Hampton Court show will have plants that were around in 1909 (when the Guide movement began), planted in the style of Gertrude Jekyll. Last November, I spent a few hours in the Lindley Library at RHS HQ in London researching plants that were in cultivation in 1909, or earlier. William Robinson's books 'The English Flower Garden' (which had sections written by Jekyll) were helpful as were old copies of 'The Garden' and 'The Gardeners' Chronicle' (and such fun to read!). Old seed catalogues were also a mine of information. Of course, more than half the plant names have changed now due to taxonomy and nomenclature changes.

I've just ordered the lavender for this area of the garden and spoke to Dr Simon Charlesworth at Downderry Nursery in Kent, who specialise in Lavender, to make sure I order the lavender that Gertrude Jekyll would have used. In Jekyll's writings, she doesn't mention cultivar names just broadly saying 'lavender' or Dutch lavender'. The latter, it seems is Lavendula x intermedia which grows very tall. Dr Charlesworth said there are only around two lavenders that had cultivar names much before the 1920s: one of these is 'Backhouse Purple', named in 1888. He agreed with me that the lavender that Jekyll would have used is Lavendula angustifolia so this is what I've ordered from Downderry as they grow a really nice one.


Foxnfirefly said:

You have a real challenge to find the true Victorian-era plants!!  And it sounds like fun to research all of that, too.  Best of luck to you!  Will your display garden have scented geraniums? I read somewhere that Victorian-era ladies kept them in pots on porches.

on 03 Apr 2010 at 02:48 AM