Stuff Sir Gordon Loves PART 4
British Culture, Design & Craftsmanship
It is that time of the month again where we share some of the stuff Sir Gordon Loves from around Britain. From people that are making amazing things, to brands that are keeping traditions alive to great British pasttimes that have some kind of British cultural significance.
Us Brits have an obsession with gardens. We spend an inordinate amount of time and money on our own pride and joy. We also love visiting the gardens across our green and pleasant land like that at our local parks, grand gardens like those which grace the grounds of stately homes, and the historic gardens at National Trust and English Heritage properties.
As well as professional gardens there is the other peculiarly British pastime of visiting private gardens, a pastime when mentioned to our friends from overseas generates raised eyebrows accompanied by “but why on earth would one want to visit a neighbour's garden?”
Our obsession is not a surprise really. Gardening is very rewarding here in Britain. We have a very mild and forgiving climate without extreme temperatures, many sunshine hours and plenty of rain. All of which combines to help us grow a great number of things quite easily. And we have done so for centuries. First for sustenance then eventually combining horticulture with design for challenge and enjoyment.
We have a rich history of garden design dating back to the 18th century and the landscape garden movement. You only need consider the hordes of enthusiasts crammed in front of 4m x 8m plots at RHS Chelsea each year to appreciate quite how much we love garden design. Demand remains high for British garden designers overseas too, where people will pay a premium to bring our skills and eye for design to their own part of the world. No one does gardens like the Brits.
Here at Sir Gordon Bennett we take every opportunity to visit gardens wherever we go, especially exploring the Victorian greenhouses and work sheds (not sure if we should be going in them but they are a cornucopia of tools). There is always a new garden to explore and ideas within it to inspire you on your return to your own. And here are some great resources to help you find gardens and events happening each week that are local to you.
NATIONAL OPEN GARDEN SCHEME
The National Garden Scheme showcases opportunities to visit smaller gardens in your local area. Perfect to find events and open days coming up each weekend. It boasts 3,500+ pirate gardens across the country. Private gardens are fascinating places, whether you seek to take in and enjoy the clever use of space behind a Georgian townhouse in a city or a cottage garden in the country. National Garden Scheme is also a charitable enterprise. Originally set up to support district nurses, it now raises millions for nursing and health charities. A very noble cause and adds an extra feel good factor as you nose round your neighbours garden.
ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY
The Royal Horticultural Society is world renowned and when talking about gardens it would be remiss of us to write without mentioning them. RHS offer a huge resource via their website for the keen gardener, from local clubs you can join, tips and advice, to identification tools. They also have a fabulous directory of larger, more formal gardens, including their own RHS Gardens and those at National Trust properties and stately homes. The database provides an introduction and history to each site and information on types of design features in the gardens and plants of special interest which is very useful if you are hunting for herbaceous borders or have a penchant for petunia peonies.
NATIONAL ALLOTMENTS WEEK
The popularity of allotments has grown vastly over recent years, with stories of 10 year waiting lists aplenty. They are beautiful, serene places, but can come across as quite mysterious with the restricted access usually preventing the public from enjoying the spaces. National Allotments week is trying to change that. Started in 2002 as a way of raising awareness of allotments and the role they play in helping people to live healthier lifestyles, once a year they encourage local residents to join them to explore the gardens. Allotments are a big part of our national heritage and worth exploring. Events run in August each year, check the National Allotments week website and local notice boards for event information.