Blog Archives

The Gardener’s Hut

I was sad to hear that the Gardener’s Hut at the Prebendal Manor Medieval Gardens was demolished on Saturday 10 February 2018. It had been a favourite project of mine and I had spent many hours constructing and maintaining the

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A Lost Medieval Garden Tool

There are many lists of tools from the medieval period, none of which include a tool specifically for hand weeding. There is no mention of weeding trowels or small hand forks, although there are pictures mattocks of various shapes and

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Heritage Lost – The Menagerie Grotto

  Heritage is ephemeral and is easily lost. .. I was the Head Gardener at The Menagerie, Horton, Northamptonshire when Gervase Jackson Stops was creating a garden to suit the building. The Menagerie was originally a part of the Horton

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Growing Nux vomica- The Strychnine Tree

  I need a photograph of a Nux vomica plant, the strychnine tree for the book that I am writing about poisonous plants, ‘Death in the Garden.’ Gerard the herbalist wrote about the medical use of the seeds; the name

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The Georgian Garden

The Georgian period was one of great advances in gardening, but also one of changing fashions and taste. The formality of the grand parterres in the French Style were soon to fall out of favour and be grubbed up as

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Illegal Mandrake Collecting

I have just read about an online petition that has been set up by the RSPCA to ban the illegal use of dogs to harvest mandrake roots.  Mandrake, Madragora officinarum, has been harvested for millennia for its medicinal properties.  

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William Cowper- A critic of Lancelot Brown

Although we are celebrating Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown this year, he was not without his critics. One was the poet William Cowper who lived in Olney – famous for the Pancake Race- and later Weston Underwood, a short distance away. Cowper

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A Valentine’s Day Rose

  Who Saint Valentine was is not at all certain. He may be a conglomeration of more than one saint, and although no churches in England are dedicated to him, his popularity is now virtually un-rivalled across the world. Chaucer

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The Georgian Surveyor. The equipment that Capability Brown could have used

The Georgian period was a good time for to be a surveyor. At home estates needed mapping to ensure that you could fend off land-grabbers, so you needed to know where your boundaries were. Surveying was needed so that you

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Mascall’s ‘Hare Pipe’ Trap

I was preparing some items to take to Aston Court to give my talk, ‘Those Tempestuous Tudors.’ The talk is about the use of plants during the Tudor period, but it includes poisons and a few other gruesome gardening subjects. I

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