Green Space: An Excerpt from A Little History of British Gardening, by Jenny Uglow
Gardens are always unfinished, telling a long tale of immigration and
connection and transformation. Even a small backyard or a window
box, conceals stories of conquest, empire, aspirations and ideas. .
. . Yet every garden is also the personal creation of those who work
in it. Gardening is hard work, as a Victorian apprentice up before
dawn in January to sweep the gravel paths of the great could
certainly tell you. And it can bring fears as well as pleasure,
frets as well as promise: in the middle of the eighteenth century a
stout doctor, Erasmus Darwin, was stomping around his garden in his
boots and greatcoat, writing the name of every plant in a scuffed
brown notebook and mapping his small kingdom 'near the sundial',
'behind the shed', 'between the house and the river' and writing
anxious notes like 'lost', or, even more poignant, 'lost?'. Men and
women before and after him know what it feels like to breathe deeply
when spring comes, smelling the warm earth but wondering what the
frost has done.
A Little History of British Gardening
North Point Press, $35.