The New York Times had a fascinating piece yesterday about the public garden being created by the Duchess of Northumberland at Alnwick in Britain and the somewhat Cinderella-like story behind it.
One minute, Jane Percy was married to a property surveyor. The next, her husband’s brother dies of a drug overdose, and the property surveyor is now the 12th Duke of Northumberland, with 120,000 acres, 700 houses, and Alnwick castle in his back pocket.
Wandering the estate after this momentous elevation, the now-Duchess begins to think of reviving its gardens. As the Times explains,
Even at this early stage, she wasn’t thinking small: “To do anything,” she told the duke, “I’m going to need a million pounds.”
Actually, she’ll need 70 million to complete the project she launched, a public garden designed by Jacques Wirtz of Belgium, whose smaller gardens I’ve always admired in books. Look at the Times slide show and judge this one for yourself.
The new garden
To me, it looks like what it is, a place designed to draw tour buses. Still, it’s interesting that a rich and powerful woman has chosen garden-making as her civic role.