John Salvat: The History of Walled Gardens – March 3

John Salvat: The History of Walled Gardens – March 3

50+ people turned up on a wet stormy night to listen to John’s talk on walled gardens, starting with basic rectangular ones from thousands of years ago in Africa depicted on carved clay tiles. By 3000BC images of grapes being trained on trellis exist together with fishponds, small beds bisected by paths and rills of water enclosed by walls to keep animals at bay.

When the Romans came to Britain, bringing with them onions, asparagus, turnips, radishes, figs, cherries and more, they too enclosed their gardens as did the monasteries with their box-enclosed beds full of vegetables and herbs grown for medical purposes. Their illustrated manuscripts show tools and pruning techniques still recognisable today.

By the reign of Elizabeth 1, an admirer of gardens, people like Robert Dudley at Kenilworth and the nobility had become competitive, out to impress, vying with each other in complexity of design. A century later Joseph Banks brought home thousands of new specimens from his travels with Darwin, and Parkinson brought botanical prints to the fore.

The Victorians went further, building walls heated by flues and later hot water pipes. The garden became the fruit and vegetable stall of today’s supermarkets.

Then came the First World War. The men from these estates went to France. An era ended until the 1980s when the TV programme The Walled Victorian Garden was shown. Tim Smith restored the Lost Garden at Heligan and our romance with the walled garden was rekindled.

Sue Andrew

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