Monday, April 01, 2013

Women in the Garden

Below is an article we wrote for the most recent edition of the Orange Plaza Review. Enjoy!

     Happy spring, gardeners! Without a doubt, this is one of our most favorite times of the year; our nursery is full, bulbs are coming to life, our nasturtiums have returned, and the bees are buzzing!

     March is Women’s History month, and we’ve been thinking about the legacy of women gardeners as we work in our soil these days. Our own garden was very much so inspired by a woman - our grandma, Johnnye Merle - and one of the things we love about gardening is the rich, often unknown history it carries with it. Gardens provide a unique way to leave a legacy, to tell a story and create traditions. Women have long played a role in this cycle, and a few in particular come to mind. 

     Rosemary Verey was the legend of legendary English gardeners. Born in 1918, she was both a prolific designer and writer, publishing numerous books on English and country style gardening. Her most well known garden was possible her own home, Barnsley House, which hosted up to 30,000 visitors a year in the 1970s and 1980s, and is noted for its mix of British formalism and wildflower-esque gardens.  Verey was also a big advocate for making vegetable gardening fashionable again. We think she would certainly approve of the movement towards ‘front yard veggie gardens’ we are seeing today, and no doubt we all owe her a nod in setting that trend in place!

     Another influential British gardener was Gertrude Jekyll, who was born in 1843 and designed over 400 gardens, and wrote thousands of articles about gardening over the course of her life - a real inspiration! Her garden style was painterly - mixing color and textures in unique and very well thought out ways, and she used plants of all types, not limiting her self to one ‘style’ or approach. On that same artistic note,  Tasha Tudor was as well known American author, illustrator, and gardener. Her approach to gardening was very much so with a whimsical artistic flair and mindset, and she was all about ‘antique’ flower selections, growing towering six foot high foxgloves and such!  In fact, Tasha Tudor’s Gardens is one of our most favorite gardening books.

     We’ve only recently discovered Ruth Bancroft, and what an inspiration she is! Born in 1908 in Berkeley, she married into the Bancroft family, who in the 1880’s farmed in Ygnacio Valley. The land, like many family farms, was gradually sold off as real estate values increased, and the last of the original farm land was given to Ruth by her husband. Well in her 60’s by this point in time, Ruth set about to plant a 3 acre garden, primarily using succulents, a plant family she had become fascinated with. She gradually filled up the entire space, and today, the garden remains and is open to visitors in Walnut Creek, California.

     Women like these have left their mark in the soil, and we hope you are as inspired by them as well are! Our own nursery is filled with plants to help you make your own mark - pay us a visit and get started soon.

Happy spring!

No comments: