Just a month ago the zinnias were bright and cheerful, attracting butterflies. I was hoping for Monarchs, but I am happy to welcome any passersby.
Before I brutally ripped the zinnias from their nice warm bed, I salvaged as many seed heads as I thought reasonable, and they can make another appearance in the spring. But there’s a lot of garden management between now and spring. British actor Richard Briers said, “A garden is a thing of beauty and a job forever.” That’s certainly my observation, also, and this time of year I typically lag in gardening interest. However, fellow bloggers, especially garden enthusiasts, often provide inspiration at just the right time. If you haven’t yet met, Kevin, let me introduce you to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, and “The incredibly true misadventures of a home gardener. “ The NGDM opened his September 18th blog post with the statement, “At this time of year, as the garden tumbles into autumn colors in preparation for its winter sleep, it’s difficult to not search out garden photos — whether of my own garden, the gardens of other bloggers, or especially gardens of the past.” And that was the advice I needed to hear to get me motivated, too. I was the lucky recipient of a recent giveaway following NGDM’s interview of Caroline Ikin, author of an exceptionally well-researched book titled, “The Victorian Garden.”
This lovely book is full of archival photos and historically rich documentation thoroughly detailing the development of Victorian garden style and artistry, chronicling the shift from structured gardens once exclusive to wealthy estate owners than later influencing the less ostentatious home garden in local towns and villages. The book follows the history of the Victorian garden from the original formal British structured layouts and includes fascinating information about a later development termed “wild gardening,” a more natural style in response to formal bedding systems. This book offers so much rich information that although my personal gardening taste is shifting away from formality and isn’t directly patterned with Victorian influences, I was still captivated by the history, and looking at the photos, I couldn’t help but compare many of the British garden estates to some of the grand homes and gardens I admire along Orange Grove Boulevard, in Pasadena, once called Millionaire’s Row. Many of the early 20th century landmark mansions that line Orange Grove, the starting route for the famed New Year’s Rose Parade, stand as examples of Victorian grandeur, with huge expanses of lawn, very formal gardens, exquisite topiary and garden ornamentation. Pasadena is often referred to as “Rose City,” particularly due to the historic Rose Parade, but roses, as you might guess, are hardly native to Southern California. So many of the grand estates included very large rose collections in an attempt to follow the fashion of Victorian England. Evidence of Victorian garden splendor is abundant in the San Gabriel Valley, despite water shortages and a gradual shift towards native plants and flowers Another avid rose collector, railroad magnate Henry Huntington, boasted a wealth of beautiful roses on his personal estate. I make frequent visits to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Garden as a study, and also to lap up the beauty and come home with a little bit of inspiration. Maybe I also enjoy the feeling of luxury and a by-gone era. The roses are a little sad this time of year, but the gardens are still blooming with soft autumn color.
- Victor Victorian: Garden Style Fit For A Queen (nittygrittydirtman.wordpress.com)