JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Guess who's coming to dinner - a gardeners' meme

Here's an interesting idea: which three or four gardeners would you invite to dinner? They don't have to be alive, just to make the fantasy more difficult to decide on.

First I'd go for my great-grandfather, the Rev Henry Ewbank, who spent forty or so years pushing the boundaries of horticulture from his gardens in Ryde, Isle of Wight. He was a scientist by inclination, he was rich enough to be able to buy interesting plants and seeds from the plant hunters who explored the world in the latter half of the 19th century, he was the first to overwinter a Mojave yucca in Britain. He also had a tulip named after him, which you can buy from the tulip museum in Holland.

I'd also invite Christopher Lloyd, because you could say many of the same things about him that I've just written about Henry Ewbank. And because I like his books a lot. Also his garden.

And Roger Phillips, whose photographic categorising books are so helpful, lovely and learned. Bulbs, Trees, Roses, and Wild Flowers are my favourites. And because the book he wrote with Leslie Land, The 3,000 Mile Garden, is my favourite comfort reading.

Oh, and of course Joseph Paxton. This is what he wrote in his diary the first day he went to work at Chatsworth:

I left London by the Comet Coach for Chesterfield, and arrived at Chatworth at half past four o'clock in the morning of the ninth of May 1826. As no person was to be seen at that early hour, I got over the greenhouse gate by the old covered way, explored the pleasure grounds, and looked round the outside of the house. I then went down to the kitchen gardens, scaled the outside wall and saw the whole place, set the men to work there at six o'clock; then returned to Chatsworth and got Thomas Weldon to play me the water works, and afterwards went to breakfast with poor dear Mrs Gregory and her niece. The latter fell in love with me, and I with her, and thus completed my first morning's work at Chatsworth before nine o'clock.


Thanks to Veg Plotting for organising this.

PS, now furious with myself for forgetting to invite Thomas Jefferson


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Can I come too? I'll promise to just listen.

VP said...

Hi Joanna - that quote is just perfect. No wonder Paxton achieved so much in his lifetime.

Roger Phillips' guides are the best aren't they.

As expected Christopher Lloyd is proving to be a most popular guest - thankfully the power of the blogosphere means he's having no problem attending 10 parties at once ;)

Can I stay and have a long chat to your great-grandfather please?

Thanks for joining in Joanna and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Anna said...

What an excellent guest list. I imagine that your dinner party must have been a lively affair. I have found the Roger Phillip's guides indispensable over the years. The two on perennials are probably the most well
thumbed books in my bookshelf :)

The Itinerant Gardener said...

Sounds like a good party Joanna - your grandfather sounds great! Though what are you serving them? Cheers, Sam.

Anonymous said...

When I first started reading this Thomas Jefferson immediatly came to mind. I love wandering around the gardens at Monticello. Ruth Stout seems like she would have been a fun dinner guest and I'd love to have Claude Monet and Tasha Tudor.


Magic Cochin said...

I wonder what Joseph Paxton did for the rest of the day?

I bet your gt-grandfather would have had talked with Christo for hours!


Nan said...

that was just wonderful, Joanna. What a great relative to have! I can't ever read Isle of Wight without hearing 'our Pauly's' words - 'every summer we could rent a cottage on the IoW if it's not too dear.'

"my" gardeners would be this late wonderful woman from Maine - named A. Carman Clark:
who wrote one of my favorite books called, From The Orange Mailbox. She is a constant inspiration to me. I know you would love this book.

and Vita Sackville-West and Katharine Angell White and one who is alive, Dominique Browning.