Wednesday 9 October 2013

Hanwell Castle's Lost Jacobean Gardens

Hanwell Castle - photo citation
An exciting and ambitious garden archaeology project is featured in today's edition of the Banbury Guardian.  One of the sad things about gardens and garden history is how often down the centuries gardens are destroyed - by a decline in fortunes, lack of interest leading to neglect, wars, and straightforward changes in fashion. 

One of the big gaps in extant gardens in Britain are those from the 17th century.  So many were lost during the Civil War and subsequent Commonwealth when  ornamental gardens were far too frivolous for Puritans tastes; and those that did survive we subsequently landscaped according to 18th century fashions.

This makes the archæological survey and dig at Hanwell Castle in Oxfordshire all the more exciting.  The gardens are privately owned and closed to the public but for those who really want to get to grips with the project and the garden’s history, the archæologist in charge of the dig, Stephen Wass, has put together an infomration-filled website - The Hanwell Park Project.  Do have a good burrow and learn all about what has all the signs of becoming a
fascinating exercise ain garden archæology and history.

All I hope now is that the owner of the garden may see it in her heart to open the garden occasionally so that us keen garden historians can sate our interest.

Friday 4 October 2013

What's Out There Weekend, 26-27 October

If you happen to be in Los Angeles on the weekend of 26-27 October The Cultural Landscape Foundation is organising a 'What's Out There Weekend' which features:

'features free, expert-led tours at more than two-dozen significant examples of designed landscapes in greater Los Angeles. The region is known for its distinct Modernist design legacy, which connects indoors and outdoors in innovative ways, but Los Angeles also has a unique legacy of Postmodernist design, with public spaces that meld architecture, landscape architecture and art into one inseparable unit. Explore Modern, Postmodern and other significant sites that go back to the region's Spanish Colonial roots and Asian, Hispanic and African America heritage, with tours that reveal anecdotes and stories about city shaping, landscape architecture and design history. Many are places people pass daily, but do we know their background stories?

Click here for the schedule and to register 

On-line Garden History Course

 Still time to sign up!

My month-long, online garden history course hosted by My Garden School starts Saturday 05 October.  Over the four weeks we will examine 4,300 years of garden history - that most overlooked yet fascinating of all forms of artistic expression.

The course takes an interdisciplinary approach.  Of course we will examine the hows and whys of the the different expressions of garden art, but we will also investigate the ways in which gardens were (and are) such an integral and important component of their culture and society, and reflect on how gardens have influenced their zeitgeist, and vice versa.

For a review by former student Deb Wiles, please check out her post on her blog Got Soil? 

The London Gardens Walk


Taking a walk is good for the health, but taking one with a purpose is also good for the brain.  So if you are a resident with some free time or are a visitor to England's great capital, then this video is the perfect way to discover a whole different side to London that you perhaps don't know about.

Tom Turner, the garden historian behind the excellent and informative offers The London Gardens Walk (or Cycle Ride).  A tour through 4,000 years of garden design history over 20.3 miles (32.7 km) of fascinating London.  Here is the video,  and if you are planning to take the walk the website page also has a useful Google map marking the route.  

Tom has also produced a Kindle guide to the walk / cycle that is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Thursday 3 October 2013

In Memoriam: James van Sweden

Photo Credit: Richard Felber

On 20 September James van Sweden, one of the 20th century's most influential landscape architects, sadly passed away at the age of 78.  This biography from The Cultural Landscape Foundation is followed by two obituaries - from TCLF and The New York Times.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Gnomes on TV with Alan Titchmarsh

Just a heads-up that I will be talking gnomes with Alan Titchmarsh on The Alan Titchmarsh Show on Thursday 03 October at 3pm (BST) on ITV 1.  Tune in if you dare!

Australian Garden History

A big 'Thank you' to Richard Aitken who as co-editor of Australia Garden History is guest posting this piece. 

Later in the month Richard & I will both be contributing to the

 This quirky new literary festival that elegantly combines two diverse genres – crime and garden writing, and which is to be held in the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide  over the weekend of October 25–27.

But back to Richard's post:

'Warm greetings from Australia, but more specifically from Australian Garden History, quarterly journal of the Australian Garden History Society. Since 2007 I have been co-editor of this journal, following an earlier youthful stint during 1990–92. With co-editor Christina Dyson, we bring out a quarterly blend of articles and opinions, news, and reports. This year marks the twenty-fifth volume of the journal and to celebrate this silver jubilee we have placed the whole of the first issue of this volume on the AGHS website as a free download

In this way we hope to bring the journal and the work of the Society to a wide general audience, and especially to students and younger enthusiasts who might become engaged in this fascinating and vital area of research and conservation.

The Australian Garden History Society was established in 1980 following an upsurge of interest in heritage conservation during the 1970s, and more specifically in the outcomes of statewide studies of culturally significant gardens across the nation. A wonderful touring exhibition and book Converting the Wilderness in 1979 and an inaugural garden history conference in 1980 paved the way for the Society’s foundation. Since then, through the ups and downs of membership and publishing that beset any fledgling organisation, the AGHS now has over 1800 members across the country and internationally, numbers comparable to the UK-based Garden History Society.

Unlike the GHS, with its scholarly journal Garden History and informative newsletters, the AGHS combines aspects of both in its journal, appealing to a wide cross section of members and readers. Increasingly the Society is supplementing its traditional media with digital platforms, and a vastly improved website is shortly to be unveiled. 

For our part, as journal editors we have considerable autonomy to promote Australian Garden History and we have recently launched a social media presence. We have adopted Instagram, which combines image uploading, micro-blogging, and hash tagging, to give a flexible platform that can be populated by the ‘crowd’ rather than requiring any official presence. To kick start the campaign we have anointed four social media ambassadors—chosen from amongst our youngest and brightest—to make the initial postings, and from there ideally the postings will be made by others. We post under the user name @australiangardenhistory and use the overriding hash tag #gardenhistory (to link postings internationally) and the specific tag #australiangardenhistory to define our special territory and interests. Join the crowd!

We see Australian Garden History as an agent for change within the AGHS. Whereas in 1980 many of the movers and shakers were in their twenties and thirties, this same group is now in their fifties and sixties. It doesn’t take much logical thinking to see that no organisation can continue indefinitely on the same path. With the journal appearing every three months, we are in a good position to gradually affect change. 

Recently we have been publishing contributions that have an international outlook, complementing more traditional state-based or nationally focussed articles. ‘Why should we publish international voices?’ queried the conservatives. For us the answer is simple. Australian garden making does not take place in a geographical or cultural vacuum. We live in a world that through digital means is increasingly global. We respect and cherish local significance, but need to look more broadly at our subjects and their contexts. Renewal is required in any organisation and as editors we have a role and responsibility to promote this through journalism that soundly based yet is also lively and accessible.'

Richard is also the author of the just-published Cultivating Modernism