Red Border And A Controversial Comment

View down the double red borders at Hidcote

My laptop still being away, and most of my pictures with it, I’ve dug deep into my archives for this submission for HeyJude’s Life In Colour Challenge.

I’m not taking a leaf out of Jude’s book by suggesting you count all the reds you can see. For more pictures, check out my post about Hidcote Manor’s famous border.

I hadn’t been blogging for very long when I wrote that post and was unsure how to respond when it attracted a lengthy, poorly spelled comment, purporting to be from an indignant aristocrat. It’s one of the strangest comments I’ve had, including those bizarre spam ones we are blessed that Akismet catches.

It is fair to say the aristocrat was not at all happy with Graham Stuart Thomas who had worked at Hidcote Manor after Lawrence Johnson’s death. In his view, Graham Thomas had messed up Mr Johnson’s garden and had added the red where there had been none: “all was far softer than Thomas had ruined to make his bash.”

The comments have long been closed under my original post and this is one of the rare ones I have neither approved nor deleted. It went on to discuss Mr Johnson’s personal life and gave the impression of having been written during a rather heavy drinking session. (With luck, I will not attract the same chap’s attention with this post, but I would not be surprised if he had a google alert set up to allow him to promptly react to any online celebration of Hidcote’s r*d border. Hence the asterisk. Though I’m teasing, when you blog, you never know.)

I’m not qualified to say whether the aristocrat has a point, but I do believe the saying all beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My guess is that Graham Thomas was a determined character with sometimes controversial views who was not afraid to rattle cages or speak his mind.

For example, Graham Thomas is often given credit for encouraging David Austin to breed repeat-flowering roses with the character of old roses. That’s true, but what is less well known is that after a few years he told David Austin to stop as he had bred enough. David Austin, one of whose defining characteristics was not being easily deterred from anything he set his mind to, politely ignored him.

So is Hidcote’s r*d border not all it’s cracked up to be? And is it possible or right to freeze a garden in time, even a celebrated, historic one?

24 Replies to “Red Border And A Controversial Comment”

  1. Gardens are living developing organisms that change and develop whether we like it or not. I love watching these evolutions, even if they’re not always to my taste.

  2. I went back to the old post, of course, and was struck by your word “devoutly.” Such a good way to describe gardeners gazing at such a place. What are those plants that look like a cross between an allium and a sparkler? I see so much to covet here! I’m glad that comment so long ago didn’t deter you from forging ahead. And doesn’t 2015 seem like a thousand years ago? A lovely, inspiring image — thank you!

  3. Love your controversial comment! Oh, my. Though according to this article Johnston did create the red borders.
    https://thegardenvisitor.co.uk/hidcote-elusive-mr-johnston-extraordinary-mrs-lindsay/

    As for gardens evolving or remaining true to their history I like properties to have gardens that reflect their past so they are not all clones of each other, but I also like gardens that adapt to changes in the climate, use of more native plants and where head gardeners have an input on the changes, not necessarily sticking strictly to what might have been planted according to historic records / archives / photographs.

    1. The post you reference has its fair share of controversies too, including at what point a garden could be said to be at the correct stage to press pause on it. And then if our climate changes as quickly as some scientists expect, many plants (including oak trees) and whole gardens will disappear. That’s a chastening thought.

      1. Considering what is happening in the world due to climatic influences I fear that nothing will be the same within the next 50 years. It won’t affect me, but I have to wonder what life will be like for my grandchildren.

        1. In some ways, although I’ve been reading a book (Homo Britannicus) that argued that hunter/gatherers had a more enjoyable daily life than some of the industrial/agricultural lives that followed, and a much more varied diet.

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