Tag Archives: garden

Borage the garden gnome

Garden fashion is a strange thing. Perhaps the classic case of a fad that fell from grace, garden gnomes were imported from Germany by Sir Charles Isham to decorate his rockery in the 1840s. Apparently he thought they would encourage the real “little people” to come out of hiding and make themselves known.

Over time they would become the most despised and ridiculed garden ornaments of the modern era. Just as Alexander Pope sneered at the amateur topiarists of his time, it became de rigueur to regard gnome enthusiasts with disdain, and they have been banned at the Chelsea Flower Show since the early 1990s.

Jekka McVicar, who has a herb farm near Bristol (http://www.jekkasherbfarm.com), is a member of the RHS council, but chooses to have a bit of fun at Chelsea by including the tiny gnome Borage in her herb garden. In the picture below he is half hidden in the Alchemilla mollis to circumvent the rules, but nonetheless peeps out to make fun of the occasion. Jekka tells me that Borage has been a regular, unobserved feature of her displays over the years. On this occasion, he apparently stayed for the queen’s visit, before being sent home for misbehaviour.

This is nothing to do with hedges, as my editor patiently pointed out to me when I mentioned it in the first draft of the book. But I still like the story, and the great thing about having a blog is that I can talk about whatever I feel like…

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Filed under Garden History, Historical Hedges

Hedge, that divides the lovely

This is a sixteenth century poem by Torquato Tasso.

Hedge, that divides the lovely

Hedge, that divides the lovely
Garden, and myself from me,
Never in you so fair a rose I see
As she who is my lady,
Loving, sweet and holy:
Who as I stretch my hand to you
Presses it, so softly, too.

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Lewis Carroll

A couple of quotes:

‘They did things very simply in those days: if you had a lot of money, you just dug a hole under the hedge, and popped it in: then you said you had “put it in the bank”

From Letters of Lewis Carroll to his Child-Friends

And one I already mentioned:

“Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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