Nothing Annoys Me More Than Anglophilia…


…in the American gardening press, where it's all about laziness and snobbery.  We have great gardens here in the U.S., too!  Take a look around, you journalists, and consider reporting the evidence of your own eyes!

And unless you happen to live in Portland, Oregon, there is relatively little useful information to be gotten out of British gardens.  Yes, they have the perfect climate for lush perennial borders.  No, we don't.  Yes, they have beautiful ancient stonework everywhere.  No, we don't.  Yes, they have greenbelts that allow for pristine country views.  No, we don't.

That said, I was struck this morning by a particularly lovely piece of writing in the New York Times from the man who actually lives at Sissinghurst and doesn't just admire it because he's supposed to: Adam Nicholson, grandson of the garden's makers.


  1. I just read that article before coming over here. He’s a wonderful writer.

    Living in So Cal, many of my clients want an “English” garden, but when I explain the differences in climate & soil & present more appropriate, just as lush alternatives, most get it.

  2. Thankyou for the reference to the article. In particular I was interested the contextualising of the garden. In all I have read about Sissinghurst, the concentration was on the garden and planting. Now I know that the garden rooms refer to the rooms of the original palace and that it is surrounded by old farm buildings and a working farm which adds immeasurably to my understanding and enjoyment of the garden.
    And yes, it would be good to see articles or even magazines about classic North American (that includes Canada), even Central and South American, gardens which give their history and context and location, the history of their makers and gardeners, as well as their layout and planting, in somewhat more than five or six paragraphs of fluff.

  3. I wonder if the slobbering anglophiles would like mad cow prion and hoof & mouth microbes in their soil to go along with their rather marvelous delphinia.

  4. I think it is a bit extreme to say that “there is relatively little useful information to be gotten out of British gardens”.

    I learned a great deal about gardening from English garden books when I first started out. Of course I eventually realized that my garden northern NJ garden wasn’t going to look quite the same as pictures of Sissinghurst.

    But their rich garden history and culture helped to expand my knowledge and love of gardening

  5. I don’t mind anglophilia as long as it doesn’t keep one from also appreciating alternative forms of gardening (or whatever).
    I have to say that piggery sounds a lot more appealing than pig farm.

  6. Your title totally cracked me up! I’m a die-hard Anglophile, but I sometimes wonder whether British gardening books are their revenge on us for declaring our independence. Thanks for sharing that lovely article.

  7. I would disagree and say that the gardens and buildings of Sissinghurst represent a dialogue between the past and the past.

    From what I recall, and perhaps not in small part because it’s a National Trust garden as well as a living museum (having been home to an English icon or two), the gardens have been studiously kept true to the same design Sackville-West and her husband created many years ago. The white garden is all but sacred and any changes to bring it into the 21st century are rigourously avoided.

    Compare with Great Dixter, for example, where Christopher Lloyd was only forward-thinking, and joyfully embraced new plants, colour combinations, etc. with the help and advice of his gardener Fergus Garrett.

    All that being said, I love the way plants tumble over the walls and the views and vignettes are everything.

  8. I guess I’m impervious to the lure of quaint English gardens, and more enamored of the wild English countryside. Even after years of reading about Miss Marple putting in her delphiniums and herbaceous borders and all. That’s not to say I’m above trying to grow things inappropriate for my climate, however. I love the Chiltern Seeds catalogue and am trying to germinate Prunus spinosa as I type this, and have potted plugs of Sorbus scopulina in some assumption that if I grow the Pacific Northwest species, it’ll thrive in my hot suburban yard. Why? I want to make sloe wine and rowan jelly… Some day!

    Then there’s the medlar sapling I ordered last week.

  9. Dear Emily, Yes, “piggery” sounds much more delightful and brought to mind a “maids walk” I came across on a recent Tour of Gardens. Actually, it was a plain alley but it had been planted along both edges to spill onto the 1-car-width drive, narrowing it to something more highbrow.

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