Friday, 11 March 2016

Meet Thomas Ruddy, the blogging Victorian head gardener.

Its the stuff novels are written about - inheriting a trunk and opening it to discover it filled with a treasure trove of documents that tell fascinating story. 

In this case the treasure is a collection of journals written by Thomas Ruddy (1842-1912) who was head gardener at Palé Hall in North Wales. The journals are not day-to-day accounts of gardening but rather a record of a remarkable life.

And thanks to the hard labours of their current owner Thomas' life and works are being published on his fascinating eponymously-named blog. This truly is a remarkable record, not only because of its contents but perhaps more so because of the paucity of surviving accounts written by head gardeners.

With a big thank you to Wendy who has done so much hard work to make Thomas' accounts available to all of us, do visit Thomas' blog and immerse yourself in his fascinating yet lost world.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Heirloom Plants... called in the USA and Australia, or as we in Britain call them...Heritage Plants.  A few years back I wrote a book entitled Heirloom Fruits and Vegetables (in the US) and Heritage Fruits and Vegetables (in the UK) which explored the stories behind our popular fruits and vegetables and offered examples of  old-fashioned cultivars that remain available to grow.

A fascinating book to research and write, but with one frustration - there was insufficient space detail as many of those splendid surviving cultivars as I would have liked.
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Thankfully ‘Thomas Etty’ (in the guise of his great, great grandson Ray Warner who like his illustrious ancestor is also a seed merchant) has come to the rescue with Heirloom Plants.
Based on the seed catalogues of Thomas Etty (the company) - click here for their website - and arranged by vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers and looking most Victorian, this illustrious tome is a directory that offers the reader names and descriptions of a wide range of heritage / heirloom cultivars which we SHOULD ALL BE GROWING in our gardens. The book concludes with short section of Cultivation Tips and a very helpful ‘Seed Suppliers & Useful Organisations check-list.

There are many good and justified reasons why we gardeners should grow these wonderful old-fashioned cultivars and now there is no excuse.