Sat in bad traffic on the drive home from Hampton Court yesterday. But the good thing about it was that I listened to Carol Klein on Radio 4, talking about the Victorian writer and garden designer William Robinson.
Before this programme I didn’t know a lot about William Robinson….nothing at all if I’m honest. But listening to Carol, I discovered that he had as great an impact on British garden design as William Morris had on interiors. It was his ideas about wild gardening that provided the focus for the development of the English cottage garden style as we know it today. He swept away the formality and regimented planting of the Victorian age and championed a much more naturalistic approach. And his books are still published and read in the 21st century.
He lived at Gravetye Manor, which is just up the road from me…. and just happens to be where I spent the first night of my honeymoon nearly twenty eight years ago. Tom Coward, the head gardener at Gravetye, came from Great Dixter in 2010. Great Dixter is one of my favourite gardens… So Gravetye is calling to me. And I’m going for a visit as soon as I can.
Finally, a word about Carol Klein…..Because I love her. She is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about plants and planting; she’s natural and quirky and entertaining; she’s spiky and she doesn’t pull her punches. And she’s 67 and showing us all how to embrace new challenges and live life to the full with grace and energy and integrity. She’s a true old dog/new tricks hero.