A Maiden’s Blush: the first book of Roses

Eureka moment in the Rare Books Room at the British Library!  This post from the Gardens Trust https://thegardenstrust.blog popped into my in-box this morning; just as I was thinking about Ida Gandy and Miss Todd. No real connection with Aldbourne (as far as I can see) but such beautiful drawings that I just had to share! A very accomplished artist.

Also, in Heart of a Village (1975) Ida Gandy did mention that two plants were named after Emily Sophia Todd; one a variety of the Wood-cowwheat (Melampyrum sylvaticum), another a wild rose, Rosa Toddie.

An opportunity for more research, perhaps!

The Gardens Trust

detail of Rosa centifolia, the Bishop Rose

The British Library Rare Books room is not usually the place where people get over-excited, but occasionally there are Eureka moments. Sometimes they’re the result of long patient reference checking when you realise your original hypothesis is true, or ploughing through vast tomes for a good quote to prove a point or grab a reader’s attention and   sometimes they are simply serendipity. Today’s post is one such.

Rosa pendulina, or the Rose without thorns

Following a discussiion in one of the clkasses I teach, I had an idea for a worthy post on how and why women became widely involved in botany in the late 18thc and thought I’d call up a selection of books and magazines by women from the period to see if I could find anything interesting to write about.  They included a couple by an artist…

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Gardens through the letterbox… widen the net!

I’ve been following the Gardens Trust blog for some time, and have just realised stories can be re-posted using the tech set up by those clever WordPress people. Here’s the Gardens Trust offering from today, a detailed look at ‘wonderful wheezes’ with postcards.  I’ve set up a new category called ‘widen the net’ here, so that I can do just that once in a while (but I’ll try to keep it local!).  Many years ago the lovely late Trish Rushen and I introduced the feature to http://www.aldbourne.org.uk to plug events and matters of interest outside the parish boundaries occasionally.  More clever people, this time at the WaybackMachine, allow us to catch a glimpse of the original Aldbourne Community Website back in 2006.

aldbourne org wayback machine january 2006

A word on postcards – there are some fabulous views of Aldbourne published by Swindon Local Studies and Family History as part of their extensive collection published on Flickr.

The Gardens Trust

Fort Belvedere “The Country Residence of His Majesty King Edward VIII” 

A brightly coloured old postcard on a market stall caught my eye the other day , and it turned out to be one of a series of “Famous Old Gardens” produced sometime in the very early 20thc by the firm of Raphael Tuck.

detail from a card of Drummond Castle

The Italian Garden at Bowood

This series of cards are all in a very distinctive style, so I decided to track down Mr Tuck and more of his garden postcards to see if  they’d make some light reading for the Saturday morning breakfast table, and indeed they do!

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Tree Planting by the Pond 1937

We have two pink horse chestnuts by the Pond in Aldbourne, one dates from 1935 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of George V, and another sapling was ceremoniously planted in 1937 to mark the coronation of George VI.  Sadly, the later tree didn’t thrive and has been replaced at least once in the intervening years.

I remember Wally Palmer telling me about the trees by the Bus Shelter and Pond House, planted for two Kings.   The tree by Pond House may have died and been replaced in 1938; however, if you take a look at the BBC film Village in the Downs (1967) there’s some great footage of Wilf Jerram chatting to Desmond Hawkins.  The tree in the film certainly doesn’t look that old so perhaps the smaller horse chestnut we have now was planted in the 1950s or 1960s.

Looking back to 1937, the two oldest children at the village school wielded the spades and then went on to enjoy the sports.  Beryl Perrett did particularly well, placing second in the Girls under 14 race.  Many thanks to John Brown for confirming the location of the Coronation Field in 1937, and for sharing his recollections of a very good tea,

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In the Pink in Aldbourne

Pinks Feast Aldbourne 1792

Reading Mercury – Monday 11 June 1792 Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

With less than two weeks to go until the Aldbourne Produce & Craft Show (Sunday 8 July) I thought it appropriate to explore just how long flower shows have been a feature of our lovely village.  The earliest reference I have found so far is a notice for a SUBSCRIPTION PINK FEAST at the Crown on 26 June 1792; the prize was a ‘handsome piece of plate … to him that exhibits the six best whole-blown PINKS of six different sorts’.

I’ve learned that the carnation is said to have been brought to Britain by the Romans.  The smallest member of genus dianthus is the pink; there’s also Sweet William.  Thomas Fairchild, born in Aldbourne in 1667, cross pollinated two of the genus to produce the hybrid Fairchild’s Mule. Two of Fairchild’s mules have survived in the herbaria of Oxford University and the Natural History Museum, London.

I can recommend a lovely book printed in 1969 called Shakespeare’s Flowers, by Jessica Kerr ( beautifully illustrated by Anne Ophelia Dowden).

Shakespeare’s plays are full of references to plants and flowers, he wrote in The Winter’s Tale much about gardens, flowers, trees and about their care and cultivation.

Sir, the year growing ancient,
Not yet on summer’s death, nor on the birth
Of trembling winter, the fairest flower o’ the season
Are our carnations, and streak’d gillyvors

‘Streak’d gillvors’ would be a fine example of Picotee – worthy of winning the Crown Picotee Cup – first presented in 2017.  Find out more about the Aldbourne Produce Show and the many and varies classes you can enter at St Michael’s Church on Sunday 8 July 2018 www.whittonways.org.uk

Some links in praise of pinks!







Thomas Fairchild

9 June 2019 update – editing my notes about Thomas Fairchild on the anniversary of his baptism in Aldbourne 352 years ago.

The Wellcome Collection : The wisdom of God in the vegetable creation. A sermon preach’d in the parish-church of St. Leonard Shoreditch, on Whitson-Tuesday, May 19, 1730. At the first opening of an annual lecture on that subject, founded by Mr. Thomas Fairchild – Denne, John, 1693-1767 Date 1730 https://wellcomecollection.org/works/tnpdku9g/items?sierraId=b30374777&langCode=eng†

6 December 2018 update: the original blog on the Gardens Trust website has moved, you can now find articles about Thomas Fairchild at https://thegardenstrust.blog/2017/06/03/thomas-fairchild https://thegardenstrust.blog/2017/06/17/the-vegetable-sermon

Aldbourne Community Heritage Group – ‘who lived in Aldbourne‘. An excellent presentation by Jan Lambourn in November 2018, exploring Mr Fairchild’s ingenuity and curiosity.

The Gardens Trust

Thomas Fairchild (c.1667-1729); Department of Plant Sciences; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/thomas-fairchild-c-16671729-220972

Thomas Fairchild was one of the greatest horticulturists of the 18thc. But his contribution was not confined to his own age but extends right up to today. That might sound a bit over the top – and perhaps it is – but as you will soon discover I’m a great fan of this humble Hoxton nurseryman. Professional to his fingertips not only did his tiny nursery ground overflow with unusual plants, he fought to raise the profile and status of horticulture through the Worshipful Company of Gardeners,  was the first person known to have deliberately hybridized plants,  and the first to write about the pleasures and pitfalls of gardening in London in his book, The City Gardener.

Old St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch which would have been the church Fairchild knew. Part of the tower collapsed during a service in 1716 & the church…

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The Vegetable Sermon

6 December 2018 -update: the original blog on the Gardens Trust website has been moved, you can now find this article at https://thegardenstrust.blog/2017/06/17/the-vegetable-sermon/

The Gardens Trust

St Giles Cripplegate
David Marsh, June 2017

Thomas Fairchild, the 18thc London gardener and subject of a recent post, was more than just a great London nurseryman and striver for professional unity and strength, he was also highly  inquisitive – or what his contemporaries would have called “curious”. He combined his intellectual curiosity with a strong religious faith and in his will he bequeathed £25 to the churchwardens of St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch for an annual lecture to be given on the Tuesday after Pentecost.  He specified two possible subjects:  “The wonderful works of God in Creation” or “On the certainty of the resurrection of the dead, proved by certain changes of the animal and vegetable parts of Creation,” and this has resulted in the event being sometimes nicknamed the “Vegetable Sermon.”

The Arms of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners from the 1616 Charter

After a somewhat chequered history it…

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