Monday, September 15, 2014

Landed Estates

As I have mentioned before, I watch a lot of films; mostly older and primarily English. I referred to "Brideshead Revisited" in my last post as one that featured beautiful gardens. I must change that to grounds. They consist mainly of expansive lawns which are lovely as the foreground to the grand manor. I am viewing it again now and realize that it is indeed, Jeremy Irons who is memorable; not so much the grounds shown, which really are little more than an example of monoculture on a grand scale. Is is truly beautiful, but would have liked scenes showing a kitchen garden and various other gardens typical within an estate; not to mention the vast forest. 

Speaking of English estates, I am often asked why many plants in gardens fail or have no lasting power and why the overall appearance is not spectacular on a daily basis. I refer to the conditions on an estate which included (and still does, in some cases) a head gardener and assistants and woodsmen who worked the land every day. Soil was made, plants were propagated and all was tended by hand, from the upper canopy trees to the bulbs which poked their heads out after the last snows.

Our rushed and "instant" lifestyle disallows for that kind of time and money to be poured into the garden. We tend to ourselves daily, our homes, our work, our bills... But the very thing that feeds us, in its beauty & functionality; is left to limited attention, but expected to visibly thrive each day.
I think that is why many find the "mow, blow, go" crews, appealing. By the time they have done the above, there is little left to tend to. The plants and hedges are treated as one and the same. They are sheared within an inch of their sad lives, over-fed with commercial fertilizers, sprayed until they are choking and leaves, that would otherwise become a mulch, are blown with great gusto either against the house; well-hidden or into the street or those who feel they are being conscientious, bagged and taken to the dump or a side-street somewhere. The following week or month, the curtains are lifted and the play begins again. This scenario tends to be affordable and looks acceptable to the passer-by. This is what I consider to be an example of limited attention and improper care.

I am well aware that I don't belong in this era. I love my romanticised view of the landed estate and its gardening methods. Hand-forged tools; well-maintained by Alan Bates, a greenhouse filled with plants newly propagated, forests, fields, lakes, controlled wilderness and gardens; all tended with a watchful eye and thoughtful practices; again, by Alan Bates (Sir Arthur Alan Bates).

This is where I pause and swoon.

Below is a link to an interesting blog: Maintaining the Grounds of a Landed British Estate

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I admit that I, in my maintenance service, do use a blower (usually electric) and gas-powered lawnmower, have used pesticides (gentler labels), herbicides (bad) and commercial fertilizers. I do not agree with these methods, but, in business, feel pressed to consider time vs finances and comply with my clients wishes to green up, grow, get rid of pests, expel disease and tidy up as rapidly as possible. I have advertised the use of hand tools only and natural methods for ridding a garden of pests and disease. I got no takers. I think and hope that my clients would indeed love to have my non-invasive methods used, but feel that it isn't financially feasible and quite slow. I understand, but feel so very strongly about The Slow Gardening Movement; Unprocessed Gardening; something like the Slow Food Movement. I can only hope that things will shift and allow me and others to garden in beneficial ways and be compensated for it, in business and heart.

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