Thursday, 20 March 2014

Holey Clogs, the Garden Museum and a Day Out with Matthew Biggs

One Mothering Sunday not many moons ago, my children asked me what I would like to do to celebrate my special day. “You can do anything,” they said and my eyes lit up as images of me clad in a maternal swooshing skirt and skipping hand in hand with my beloved brood of smiling, plant-loving children through swathes
of daffs passed joyfully through my idealistic mind “...except visit a garden.
I clattered inelegantly back to earth and landed with an ungraceful thud.


The girls skipping through the daffs (yes, they were bribed)
I reminisce dewy-eyed on the good old days, when all I had to do was suggest a trip to a beach which just happened to be in close proximity to a garden I wanted to see and they would clamber unwittingly into the car, trailing their buckets and spades behind them. Over the years they have grown wise to my pathetic ploys and I am subjected to trial by teenager if I so much as utter the words “day out”.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' in the farmhouse garden
The wiser the children grow; the more creative I must become. Days out with dual interests work well, so long as my hidden horticultural agenda remains undiscovered. Many zoos have superb gardens; and do you think I would have driven my offspring all the way to Legoland had I not harboured a burning desire to ogle the landscaping? So you can imagine my excitement on hearing about an exhibition exploring the relationship between fashion and garden design at the Garden Museum in London. All I had to do was conceal any reference to gardens and I would have my day out. 

Bergenia 'Silberlicht' in the farmhouse garden
It is a fascinating exhibition, spanning centuries of design from the use of botanically accurate images of flowers on clothing during the 1600s to Valentino’s spring/summer 2013 couture collection. Apart from the jaw-droppingly beautiful clothes, I particularly enjoyed a collection of paintings featuring gardeners at work. Gardeners were once such a source of pride that they were painted. Imagine! I would certainly need some new clothes if I were to be captured on canvas doing my mulching. 

My least holey clogs after years of mulching
This leads me to one of the questions raised by the exhibition. "How did people dress to garden, or to visit gardens?" The 18th century landscape movement may have given rise to a new style of dressing, which eventually developed into the outdoor clothing we see in glossy magazines, but I am not altogether convinced that this stylish ideal holds much relevance for real gardeners with brittle nails and that half moon sun strip around the midriff which never seems to fade. In any case, we know what we wear to garden these days, as we have already chewed over the issue of gardening clothes here: 
http://thegardeningshoe.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/swishing-for-gardeners-and-garlic-bath.html
Crocus tommasinianus proving its value to wildlife
 in the farmhouse garden
When it comes to visiting gardens, twenty-first century style choices can be astonishingly diverse and bewilderingly unpredictable. For example, there was a time when I might visit a garden sporting beach clothes accessorised by sand, seaside buckets and spades. These days however, I might dress as if I were on the verge of accompanying my teenage children to a music festival, but got lost en route and found myself visiting a garden. Ahem.

P.S.  Update on the children... After the initial horror of finding themselves duped yet again into a garden-based day out, they relaxed and enjoyed the exhibition. The level of forgiveness will be assessed on Mothering Sunday later this month. You never know, they might be reading this and decide (completely without any hinting from me at all) to treat me to a day out with Matthew Biggs.
http://www.gardenmuseum.org.uk/page/mothers-day-in-the-garden-with-mathew-biggs-30-03-14 

Information about the Fashion and Gardens Exhibition can be found on The Garden Museum website:  http://www.gardenmuseum.org.uk/page/fashion-and-gardens

37 comments:

  1. I love the image of the bee inside the crocus bloom.......and the old clogs (I have many tatty garden shoes in my shed and I love them all)
    I like to look around gardens on my own.....I find others a distraction (gosh that makes me sound miserable). I am not, I just like to get lost in the moment.

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    1. I think it is often easier to look around gardens alone - there's nothing worse than dragging a companion back to the start of the garden to gaze once more at a must-see twice plant (apart from them wanting to go back and look at a plant you have little interest in).

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  2. It's nice that nowadays most public gardens have attractions too to entertain non gardening interested members of a family/party :)

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    1. They do! But I still have to jump through hoops to hide the garden part of it to avoid a mutiny.

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  3. Lovely shots, especially the first one with the chickens. Hopefully you have that day out you want.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Thanks! To be honest, I am happy to spend the day pottering in my own garden - preferably with my children helping (well, we can all dream).

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  4. I always find it amazing how some people dress in the garden. We once had a neighbour who always wore white jeans and top and had perfectly manicured nails. Me - I just hope no-one sees me (there than like minded gardeners) when I am dressed for gardening

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    1. White clothes to garden? I would like to know which washing detergent they use!

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    2. That was the mystery - she never was dirty nor was a hair out of place!

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  5. I know those moans and groans when garden visits are mentioned very well. I've foregone days out in the past, just so that I don't have to listen to whining all day, but I'm catching up this year and having a day out garden visiting each month. I'm quite sad that my kids are growing up, well, grown up now really, but there are some advantages.

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    1. Good for you, Jo! I look forward to reading about your garden visits.

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  6. Beautiful photos. I love Brunnera macrophylla; I have a couple planted in my garden, and I can't wait until they rise this spring! My kids are the same way. Anything that has to do with gardens is boring. They'll appreciate them more when they get older. I was the same way at their age, and gardening is one of my favourites things now.

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    1. It is a great plant. I plan to put more of them in the garden this year as the foliage and flowers are so beautiful.

      I live in hope that one day the children will be converted to gardening like you were.

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  7. This made me smile - I've got a neighbour who dresses herself up just to mow the lawn. Then proceeds to asks all those passing by to forgive her untidiness. I'd hate to know what she thinks of the state I dress to work in the garden!
    Loving the chickens skipping through the daffs - I'll be the bribery was in the form of food!

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    1. It was corn! They will follow me to the ends of the world for corn (or tomatoes when they are fruiting). I think you should mow your lawn in a crinoline skirt - that would show your neighbour and it might be quite useful for gathering up clippings.

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  8. Whatever you end up doing on Mother's Day I'm sure it will involve flowers in some form or another! My parents used to drag us round National Trust houses as children, and for us the best bit was when we got through and were allowed out into the garden! ;-)

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    1. Our children appear to be perfectly happy in a National Trust house. Whenever we are visiting a NT property, I sneak out to the gardens while the kids aren't looking.

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  9. That's a great photo of the bee, head down in a crocus flower. Good luck with your mother's day wish... I'll be checking back for the blog post detailing your day with Matthew Biggs!

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    1. The bees LOVE the crocus flowers. They are like drunks in a whisky barrel.

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  10. Oh I do dread the day when the beans are on to me! Right now they are content scraping around with their tiny shovels and rakes! That exhibit sounds fascinating! I will have to jump over as I am always intrigued how things once were....gardeners in the spotlight is just wonderful! Love that first shot up there! Happy weekend to you! Nicole

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    1. Thank you! I think the beans are showing great promise. If they are already messing with the soil, you must be onto a winner. I have memories of one of my kids planting 100 crocus upside down which, looking back, was probably her way of stopping my feeble attempts to encourage her to garden.

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  11. I have ended up going to open gardens with my mum now, I hope you get to go to more gardens with them all.

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  12. Lovely to see the chickens-such a colourful image too. Love the bee in the crocus.

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    1. Thanks! I think the chickens have had a good winter - not too cold or long.

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  13. Wow! What a post. The flowers are looking so beautiful. Even the hes loved it. Thanks for sharing wonderful post. Trees Planet

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  14. What a charming post... unfortunately, I can't get blogspot to accept my 'follow' request! I'll try again later!

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    1. Hello - and welcome! Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and comment. Thank you too for trying to follow!

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  15. Ah... I can relate to ploys to mix daughters and non gardening OH with garden days out and holiday destinations ;-) A delightful post and images. Thanks for popping over to my blog :-)

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  16. Chickens in the daffs, what a lovely image. I love your big fat bumble bee in the Crocus too.
    My grandmother used to garden in a smart coat and hat and she always wore her second best corsets. She would be appalled if she could see me in my gardening grot and no corsets.

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  17. I just realized you have two blogs. :o) My favorite gardening pants are too big for me so my main aim is to make sure my butt isn't hanging out. I'm not sure I could manage a corset, either. I gave up dragging my family to garden related things a long time ago. Once the kids were old enough to drive they could escape, anyway, and I was out of luck. Love that you have flowers blooming. Muck and mud over here with the possibility of spring making a visit next week.

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    1. Yes I now have 2 blogs! My new addition is about life at Le Grys Farm where we live, grow food, look after centuries old buildings and let holiday cottages.

      Here's hoping spring arrives with you very soon!

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  18. Hi Sarah. I'm enjoying your writing! I had a whimsical New Year's resolution this year to only wear my favourite Italian leather shoes in the garden. Apart from the toes turning up (my daughter calls them pixie shoes now), they are the most comfortable gardening shoes I have ever had.

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    1. Thank you! What a brilliant New Year's resolution! Comfort and a shopping opportunity all rolled into one (unless you wear your pixie shoes for evenings out too).

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