Friday 13 January 2012

Britain should have a Gardening Archive

Is the title of an article in today’s Telegraph - to whom my congratulations go for being so garden history friendly.  I am not going to repeat the piece suffice to say that the concept is create a Gardening Archive that focuses on the twentieth century post-1918; and that Archive, the brain-child of Christopher Woodward, the director of the Garden Museum, is dependent on his securing a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The article features comments from some of the luminaries asked for their suggestion for what should be included in the archive - and you can offer thoughts on the Telegraph’s gardening page.  One area which I think deserves extensive space is the suburban garden.  By numbers alone (4½ million were built between the wars) this is the most influential garden type of the 20th century.  Not only is the evolution of the suburban garden as a style or form a fascinating subject but also how the garden was and is is a reflection of socio-cultural values.

I very much hope Woodward succeeds in securing his grant, that the Archive gets off the ground, and in time may be a catalyst for an even more ambitious project.  With more and more archive material scanned and available online, what I would dearly love to see is some form of synchronous web-based database that links together the diverse repositories holding materials pertaining to garden and plant history.  For example, the Public Records Office, County Records Offices, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Geographic Society and the Royal Horticultural Society to name but five.

We can but hope, but in the meantime lets keep our fingers crossed for Christopher Woodward, the Garden Museum and the Garden Archive.

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