Friday, 14 November 2008


My Dearest Americans,

I don't want to seem like a nag, but I am concerned that you are missing out on what could be your most rewarding gardening experience ever by failing to reply to our once-in-a-lifetime offer of lessons in English Gardening. So I've decided to send you Lesson One completely free of charge - yes - completely gratis - to show exactly what you will be missing.

With kind regards,

Most historians agree that English gardening was invented back in the middle ages by St Rosemary Verey of Cirencester. She is still worshipped at the site of her famous laburnum arch, said to be the site of many miracles and conversions.

However, as is so often the case, a breakaway contingent questioned the articles of faith put forward by Saint Rosemary, including the juxtaposition of bright blue and yellow, and the transubstantiation of alliums. Most particularly they put much greater emphasis on the meaningful presence in the garden of the tender tropicals, a heretical tendency which the mainstream thought had been happily stamped out since the Council of Tintinhull, 1948.

(breakaway turncoat rebel leader Christopher "naughty" Lloyd)

Eventually the breakaway contingent had enough adherents to form a substantial congregation in its own right. This event became known as the “Northiam Schism”.

Essay title for this week:
“In St Daniel Pearson’s work, we see the possibility of reconciliation between the schismatic tendencies for the first time since the dawn of horticulture.”
To what extent is it possible to agree with this tendentious statement?

Please post your notes, queries and essays here for further attention by the Dixter College faculty.


Zoƫ said...


Just brilliant Emma!

I'd like to know where Gertrude Jekyll, William Robinson and Russell Page fit on this time-line?


A stupid student

VP said...

I have been doing some extra curricular studies to broaden my knowledge, but have hit a problem with the available references.

Do you have any notes on when the 'Age of Enlightenment' happened? Surprisingly this has allowed Kaffe Fassett to describe his meeting with our audacious leader Christopher Lloyd (RIP) as a meeting of rebel minds at the seminar I attended in Bath last night.

A number of garden related quilts photographed at the Palace of Great Dixter were also produced as evidence.

VP said...

I need to clarify re the set essay: do we need to include The Diet of Worms in our response?

Anonymous said...

My head hurts
Stop bothering me
Anon sickly-jan- sickly- cat-j mother

Anonymous said...

meant to say hello everyone, hope you are well etc!
Sick cat mother sick jan

JamesA-S said...

It is a bit obvious, that essay question isn't it? even for Americans. This has all been covered so many times before that there is, among scholars, no argument. I draw your attention to the Ground Force Scrolls that were discovered by Sir Tomas de Walsh in 1492, in spite of the later attempt to discredit them as the work of the 18th Century charlatan and hermit Mattheus Willsinn.
Surely a course that pretends to be as all encompassing as yours should not trouble itself with such trifling arguments. Loath though I am to admit it I fear, Dulcibella, that you are dumbing down for the benefit of the colonials.

emmat said...

I highly disagree, Professor Alexander-Sinclair. It is now indubitably established by feminist critics using blood fish and bone dating that Walsh himself was the victim of a serious scholarly error, nay, folly: concommittantly the role of Charlie Dimmock (who was, despite the name, a lady) has been drastically underestimated.

Anyway I think it's good to start with the basics; if the basics aren't right, you have nothing to build on. (As my French teacher says when I use the present tense during a story about my youth.)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

LOL! You had me at St. Rosemary Verey. I'd like to know the relevance of Graham Thomas and the use of spring-blooming bulbs in the mixed border. Is the focus of this course garden design and, if not, will there be any discussion of 19th century hybridizers & plant hunters?

mattheus willsinn said...

Actually those scrolls WERE my work.

And I'm not a hermit, I just don't get out much.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Tres amusant, but aren't you leaving out a crucial part of gardening history, dear Dulcibella? The part where the Dutch tought the British how to garden? ;-)