Don’t Try This At Home


Dscn1577 Spotted at London’s Holland Park:  Your basic boxed-in boxwood garden, filled with bedding annuals.  The sort of thing that makes you say, "Oh.  Look at those flowers."

In the background:  large red moundy things that are actually giant planters, probably 8 feet tall and about 4 feet around, filled with begonias.  Talk about high-maintenance.

And here’s a funny thing that happened at this park:  I walked all over looking for the gift shop–you know, being a tourist, and a garden-minded one at that, a gift shop seemed in order.  There were maps pointing out the many other features of this park (the orangery, the Japanese garden), but the gift shop was not marked.  Instead, there was a very cryptic sign telling visitors to go past the "old greenhouse" and that the gift shop would be just past a giant plane tree.

I don’t know what the hell a plane tree is, and I never did find the gift shop.  I guess if you don’t know your trees, they don’t want your money.  That’s all right; I’m spending it  quickly enough as it is.


  1. This quoted passage is a bit long, but it might explain a little bit why formal gardens in Britain look the way they do:

    “… the face of the countryside itself had started to change as a consequence of enclosure. What had once been common land collectively used by the rural community for grazing during a certain period of the year was now distributed among landowners. … This process was known as ‘improvement,’ a term which derives from the fact that land enclosed can be cultivated more easily and promises greater yield … . The visible result of the process was the division of formerly open land into small rectangles, the borderlines of which were marked by hedgerows. Thus, the more ‘natural’ design of gardens had its counterpart in the increasingly symmetrical and regulated aspect of the land … . In this respect, the landscape garden can be understood as counterbalancing the loss of ‘natural’ landscapes. …”

    The Politics of the English Landscape Garden,

    I don’t know how old Holland Park is, but I’m sure the garden design is quite traditional for Britain and probably hearkens back to this period.

    Interestingly, the ‘hedgerow’ ecology of the British countryside has been around so long and harbors sets of species such that it’s the subject of preservation efforts there now.

  2. The plane tree is a hybrid of the old world and the new world sycamores.

    I suspect we just call them all ‘sycamore’ over here.

    Not signing their gift shop is a oversight of giant proportions. Don’t they know how much we like to spend our money?

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