Frank Frankfort Moore.

A garden of peace, a medley in quietude online

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settling down complacently. The statistics of the
grades recently published appeared to me to be the
greatest cause for alarm that England has known for
years. And the worst of the matter is that when
one asks if a more ample proof of decadence has ever
been revealed, people smile and inquire if the result of
the recent visits of the British to France and Italy
and Palestine and Mesopotamia suggest any evidence
of decadence. They forget that it was only the A
classes that left England; only the A classes were
killed or maimed ; the lower grades remained at home
with their wives in order that the decadent breed
might be carried on with emphasised decadence.

If I were asked in what direction one should look
for the salvation of the race from the rush into Aver-
nus toward which we have been descending, I would
certainly say,



162 A GARDEN OF PEACE

" The garden and the allotment only will arrest our
feet on the downward path."

If the people of England can throw off the yoke of
the Cinema and take to the spade it may not yet be
too late to rescue them from the abyss toward which
they are sliding.

And it is not merely the sons who must be saved,
the daughters must be taken into account in this di-
rection ; and when I meet daily the scores of trim and
shapely girls with busts of Venus and buskins of
Diana, walking vera incessu patuit dea as if the
land belonged to them which it does I feel no un-
easiness with regard to the women with whom Eng-
land's future rests. If they belong to the land,
assuredly the land belongs to them.

But the garden and not the field is the place for our
girls. We know what the women are like in those
countries where they work in the fields doing men's
work. We have seen them in Jean Fra^ois Millet's
pictures, and we turn from them with tears.

" Women with labour-loosened knees

And gaunt backs bowed with servitude."

We do not wish to see them in England. I have seen
them in Italy, in Switzerland, and on the Boer farms
in South Africa. I do not want to see them in Eng-
land.

Agriculture is for men, horticulture for women. A
woman is in her right place in a garden. A garden
looks lovelier for her presence. What an incongruous
object a jobbing gardener in his shirt-sleeves and



A GARDEN OF PEACE 163

filthy cap seems when seen against a background of
flowers! I have kept out of my garden for days in
dread of coming upon the figure which I knew was
lurking there, spending his time looking out for me
and working feverishly when he thought I was com-
ing.

But how pleasantly at home a girl in her garden
garb appears, whether on the rungs of a ladder tying
up the roses, or doing some thinning out on a too
rampant border! There should be no work in a
garden beyond her powers that is, of course, in a
one-gardener garden a one-greenhouse garden. She
has no business trying to carry a tub with a shrub
weighing one hundred and fifty pounds from one
place to another; but she can wheel a brewer's or a
coalman's sack barrow with two nine-inch wheels with
two hundredweight resting on it for half a mile with-
out feeling weary. No garden should be without such
a vehicle. One that I bought ten years ago from a
general dealer has enabled me to superannuate the
cumbersome wheelbarrow. You require to lift the
tub into the wheelbarrow, but the other does the lift-
ing when you push the iron guard four inches under
the staves at the bottom. As for that supposed bug-
bear the carting of manure, it should not exist in a
modern garden. A five-shilling tin of fertiliser and a
few sacks of Wakeley's hop mixture will be enough
for the borders of a garden of an acre, unless you aim
at growing everything to an abnormal size. But you
must know what sort of fertilising every bed requires.

I mention these facts because we read constantly



164 A GARDEN OF PEACE

of the carting of manure being beyond the limits of
a girl-gardener's strength, to say nothing of the dis-
tasteful character of the job. The time is coming
when there will be none of the old-fashioned stable-
sweepings either for the garden or the field, and I
think we shall get on very well without it, unless we
wish to grow mushrooms.

The only other really horrid job that I would not
have my girl face is pot-washing. This is usually a
winter job, because, we are told, summer is too busy
a time in the garden to allow of its being done except
when the ice has to be broken in the cistern and no
other work is possible. But why should the pots be
washed out of doors and in cold water? If you have
a girl-gardener, why should you not give her the free-
dom of the scullery sink where the hot water is laid
on? There is no hardship in washing a couple of
hundred pots in hot water and in a warm scullery on
the most inclement day in January.

The truth is that there exists a garden tradition,
and it originated with men who had neither imagina-
tion nor brains, and people would have us believe that
it must be maintained that frogs and toads should be
slain and that gardener is a proper noun of the mas-
culine gender that manure must be filthy and that
a garden should never look otherwise than unfinished
at any time of the year that radiation is the same as
frost, and that watering should be done regularly
and without reference to the needs of the individual
plants.

Lady Wolseley has done a great deal toward giv-



A GARDEN OF PEACE 165

ing girls the freedom of the garden. She has a small
training ground on the motor road between Lewes
and Eastbourne. Of course it is not large enough to
pay its way, and I am told that in order to realise
something on the produce, the pony cart of a coster-
monger in charge of two of the young women goes
into Lewes laden with vegetables for sale. I have no
doubt that the vegetables are of the highest grade,
but I am afraid that if it becomes understood that the
pupils are to be trained in the arts of costermongery
the prestige of her college, as it has very properly
been called by Lady Wolseley, will suffer.

What I cannot understand is why, with so ad-
mirable a work being done at that place, it should not
be subsidised by the State. It may be, however, that
Lady Wolseley has had such experience of the way in
which the State authorities mismanage almost every-
thing they handle, as prevents her from moving in
this direction. The waste, the incompetence, and the
arrogance of all the Departments that sprang into
existence with the war are inconceivable. I dare say
that Lady Wolseley has seen enough during the past
four years to convince her that if once the " State "
had a chance of putting a controlling finger upon one
of the reins of the college pony it would upset the
whole apple-cart. The future of so valuable an in-
stitution should not be jeopardised by the intrusion
of the fatal finger of a Government Department.
The Glynde College should be the Norland Institu-
tion of the nursery of Flora.



CHAPTER THE FIFTEENTH

IT was when a gardener with whom I had never ex-
changed a cross word during the two years he was
with me assured me that work was not work but
slavery in my garden he had one man under him and
appealed to me for a second that I made my apol-
ogy to him and allowed him to take unlimited leave
of me and his shackles. He had been with me for
over two years, and during all this time the garden
had been going from bad to worse. At the end of
his bondage it was absolutely deplorable. At no time
had we the courage to ask any visitor to walk round
the grounds.

And yet the man knew the Latin name of every
plant and every flower from the cedar on the lawn
to the snapdragon he called it antirrhinum upon
the wall ; but if he had remained with me much longer
there would have been nothing left for him to give a
name to, Latin or English.

I took over the garden and got in a boy to do the
pot-washing at six shillings a week, and a fortnight
later I doubled his wages, so vast a change, or rather,
a promise of change, as was shown by the place.
Within a month I was paying him fifteen shillings,
and within six months, eighteen. He was an excellent

166



A GARDEN OF PEACE 167

lad, and in due time his industry was rewarded by the
hand of our cook. I parted with him reluctantly at
the outbreak of the war, though owing to physical
defects he was never called up.

It was when I was thrown on my own resources
after the strain of leave-taking with my slave-driven
professor that I acquired the secret of garden design
which I have already revealed namely, the multiply-
ing of " features " within the garden space.

It took time for me to carry out my plans, for I
was very far from seeing, as a proper garden designer
would have done in a glance, how the ground lent
itself to " features " in various directions; and it was
only while I was working at one part that the possi-
bilities of others suggested themselves to me. It was
the incident of my picking up in a stonemason's yard
for a few shillings a doorway with a shaped archi-
trave, that made me think of shutting off the House
Garden, which I had completed the previous year,
from the rest. I got this work done quite satisfac-
torily by the aid of a simple balustrade on each side.
Here there was an effective entrance to a new garden,
where before nothing would grow owing to the over-
shadowing by the sycamores beyond my mound. My
predecessor took refuge in a grove of euonyma, be-
hind which he artfully concealed the stone steps lead-
ing to the Saxon terrace. This was one of the " fea-
tures " of his day the careful concealing of such
drawbacks in the landscape as stone steps. But as
I could not see that they were after all a fatal blot
that should put an end to all hope to make anything



168 A GARDEN OF PEACE

of the place, I pulled away the masses of euonyma,
and turned the steps boldly round, adding piers at the
foot.

Here then was at my command a space of forty
feet square, walled in, and in the summer-shade of the
high sycamores, and the winter-shade of a beautifully-
shaped and immense deciduous oak. And what was
I to do with it?

Before I left the interrogatory ground I saw with
great clearness the reflection of the graceful foliage
in a piece of water. That was just what was needed
at the place, I was convinced a properly puddled
Sussex dew-pond such as Gilbert White's swallows
could hardly resist making their winter quarters as
the alternative to that long and tedious trip to South
Africa. The spot was clearly designed by Nature as
a basin. On three sides it had boundaries of sloping
mounds, and I felt myself equal to the business of
completing the circle so that the basin would be in its
natural place.

I consulted my builder as to whether or not my
plan was a rightly puddled one which was a way of
asking if it would hold water in a scientific as well
as a metaphorical sense. He advised concrete, and
concrete I ordered, though I was quite well aware of
the fact that in doing so I must abandon all hopes
of the swallows, for I knew that with concrete there
would be none of that mud in the pond which the
great naturalists had agreed was indispensable for the
hibernating of the birds.

A round pond basin was made, about fifteen feet



A GARDEN OF PEACE 169

in diameter, and admirably made too. In the centre
I created an island with the nozzle of a single jet
d'eau, carefully concealed, and by an extraordinary
chance I discovered within an inch or two of the brim
of the basin, the channel of an ancient scheme of
drainage it may have been a thousand years old
and this solved in a moment the problem of how to
carry off the overflow. The water was easily avail-
able from the ordinary " Company's " pipe for the
garden supply ; so that all that remained for me to do
was to tidy up the ground, which I did by getting six
tons of soft reddish sandstone from a neighbouring
quarry and piling it in irregular masses on two sectors
of the circular space, taking care to arrange for a
scheme of " pockets " for small plants at one part and
for large ferns at another. The greatest elevation of
this boundary was about fifteen feet, and here I put a
noble cliff weighing a ton and a half, with several
irregular steps at the base, the lowest being just
above a series of stone rectangular basins, connected
by irregular shallow channels in a descent to the big
pond. Then I got a leaden pipe with an " elbow "
attachment to the Company's water supply beneath,
and contrived a sort of T-shaped spray which I con-
cealed on the level of the top of my cliff, and within
forty-eight hours I had a miniature cascade pouring
over the cliff and splashing among the stone basins
and their channels te per aver' pace coi seguaci sui "
in the large pond below.

Of course it took a summer and a winter to give
this little scheme a chance of assimilating with Nature ;



170 A GARDEN OF PEACE

but once it began to do so it did so thoroughly. The
cliff and the rocky steps, which I had made in mem-
ory of the cascade at Platte Klip on the side of Table
Mountain where I had often enjoyed a bath, became
beautifully slimy, and primroses were blooming so
as to hide the outlines of the rectangle, while Alpines
and sedums and harts-tongue ferns found accommo-
dation in the pockets among the stones. In the course
of another year the place was covered with vegetation
and the sandstones had become beautifully weathered,
and sure enough, the boughs of the American oak had
their Narcissus longings realised, but without the
Narcissus sequel.

Here, then, was a second " feature " accomplished;
and we walk out of the sunshine of the House Garden,
and, passing through the carved stone doorway, find
ourselves in complete shade with the sound of tinkling
water in the air when the taps are turned in the right
direction ; but in the matter of water we are economi-
cal, and the cascade ceased to flow while the war
lasted.

I do not think that it is wrong to try to achieve
such contrasts in designing a range of gardens. The
effect is great and it will never appear to be cheap,
provided that it is carried out naturally. I do not
think that in a place of the character of that just
described one should introduce such objects as shrubs
in tubs, or clipped trees; nor should one tolerate the
appearance for the sake, perhaps, of colour, of any
plant or flower that might not be found in the natural
scene on which it is founded. We all know that in



A GARDEN OF PEACE 171

a rocky glen we need not look for brilliant colour,
therefore the introduction of anything striking in this
way would be a jarring note. To be sure I have seen
the irrepressible scarlet geranium blazing through
some glens in the island of St. Helena; but St.
Helena is in the tropics, and a tropical glen is not the
sort to which we have become accustomed in England.
If one has lived at St. Helena for years and, on com-
ing to England, wishes to be constantly reminded of
the little island of glens and gorges and that immense
" combe " where James Town nestles, beyond a doubt
that strange person could not do better than create a
garden of gullies with the indigenous geranium blaz-
ing out of every cranny. But I cannot imagine any
one being so anxious to perpetuate a stay among the
picturesque loneliness of the place. I think it ex-
tremely unlikely that if Napoleon I. had lived to re-
turn to France, he would have assimilated any portion
of the gardens of Versailles with those that were
under his windows at Longwood. I could more easily
fancy his making an honest attempt to transform the
ridge above Geranium Valley on which Longwood
stands if there is anything of that queer residence
left by the white ants the natural owners of the
island into a memory of the Grand Trianon, only
for the "" maggior dolore " that would have come to
him had such an enterprise been successful.

My opinion is that a garden should be such as to
cause a visitor to exclaim,

" How natural! " rather than, " How queer! "

A lake may be artificial; but it will only appear so



172 A GARDEN OF PEACE

if its location is artificial; and, therefore, in spite of
the fact that there are countless mountain tarns in
Scotland and Wales, it is safest for the lake to be
made on the lowest part of your ground. I dare say
that a scientific man without a conscience could, by
an arrangement of forced draught apparatus, cause
an artificial river to flow uphill instead of down; but
though such a stream would be quite a pleasing inci-
dent of one of the soirees of the Royal Society at
Burlington House, I am certain that it would look
more curious than natural if carried out in an Eng-
lish garden ground. The artificial canals of the
Dutch gardens and of those English gardens which
were made to remind William III. of his native land,
will look natural in proportion to their artificiality.
This is not so hard a saying as it may seem; I mean
to say that if the artificial canal apes a natural river,
it will look unnatural. If it aims at being nothing
but a Dutch canal, it will be a very interesting part
of a garden a Dutch garden plan, and as such it
will seem in the right and natural place. If a thing
occupies a natural place the place where you expect
to find it it must be criticised from the standpoint
of its environment, so to speak, and not on the basis
of the canons that have a general application.

And to my mind the difference between what is
right and what is wrong in a garden is not the differ-
ence between what is the fashion and what is not the
fashion; but between the appropriate and the inap-
propriate. A rectangular canal is quite right in a
copy of the Dutch garden; but it would be quite



A GARDEN OF PEACE 173

wrong within sight of the cascades of the Villa d'Este
or any other Italian garden. Topiary work is quite
right in a garden that is meant frankly to be a copy
of one of the clipped shrubberies of the seventeenth
and of the eighteenth century that preceded landscape
treatment, but it is utterly out of place in a garden
where flowers grow according to their own sweet will,
as in a rosery or a herbaceous border. A large num-
ber of people dislike what Mr. Robinson calls " Vege-
table Sculpture," and would not allow any example
to have a place on their property; but although I
think I might trust myself to resist every temptation
to admit such an element into a garden of mine, I
should not hesitate to make a feature of it if I wanted
to be constantly reminded of a certain period of his-
tory. It would be as unjust to blame me on this ac-
count as it would be to blame Mr. Hugh Thomson
for introducing topiary into one of his exquisite illus-
trations to Sir Roger de Cover ley. I would, I know,
take great pleasure in sitting for hours among the pea-
cocks and bears and cocked hats of the topiary sculp-
tor, because I should feel myself in the company of
Sir Roger and Will Wimble, and I consider that they
would be very good company indeed; but I admit
that I should prefer that that particular garden was
on some one else's property. I should spend a very
pleasant twenty minutes in a neighbour's a near
neighbour's reproduction of the grotto at Pope's
Villa at Twickenham, not because I should be want-
ing in a legitimate abhorrence of the thing, but be-
cause I should be able to repeople it with several very



174 A GARDEN OF PEACE

pleasant people say, Arbuthnot, Garth, and Mr.
Henry Labouchere. But heaven forbid that I should
spend years of my life in the construction of a sec-
ond Pope's grotto as one of the features of my all-
too-constricted garden space.

One could easily write a book on " Illustrating
Gardens," meaning not the art of reproducing illus-
trations of gardens, but the art of constructing
gardens that would illustrate the lives of certain in-
teresting people at certain interesting periods. The
educational value of gardens formed with such an
intent would be great, I am sure. I had occasion
some time ago to act the part of their governess to my
little girls, and to Dorothy's undisguised amazement
I took the class into the garden, and not knowing how
to begin whether with an inquiry into the economic
value of a thorough grounding in Conic Sections, or
a consideration of the circumstances attending the
death of Mary Queen of Scots I have long believed
that a modern coroner's jury would have found that
the cause of death was blood poisoning, as there is no
evidence that the fatal axe was aseptic, not having
been boiled before using I begged the girls to walk
round with me.

:< This is something quite new," said Rosamund
" lessons in a garden."

" Is it? " I asked. " Did Miss Pinkerton ever tell
you about a man named Plato? "

It was generally admitted that if she had ever done
so they would have remembered the name.

I saw at once that this was a chance that might not



A GARDEN OF PEACE 175

occur again for me to recover my position. The re-
spect that I have for Miss Pinkerton is almost equal
to that I have for Lempriere or Dr. William Smith.
I unfolded like a philactery the stores of my
knowledge on the subject of the garden of Academus,
where Plato and his pupils were wont to meet and
discover

" How charming is divine philosophy !
Not harsh and crabbed as some fools affirm,
But musical as is Apollo's lute,"

and the children learned for the first time the origin
of the name Academy. They were struck powerfully
with the idea, which they thought an excellent one,
of the open-air class.

This was an honest attempt on my part to illustrate
something through the medium of the garden; but
Miss Pinkerton's methods differed from those of
Plato: the blackboard was, in her opinion, the only
medium of illustration for a properly organised class.

It was a daily delight to me when I lived in Ken-
sington to believe that Addison must have walked
through my garden when he had that cottage on the
secluded Fulham Road, far away from the distract-
ing noise and bustle of the town, and went to pay a
visit to his wife at Holland Park. Some of the trees
of that garden must have been planted even before
Addison's day. There was a mighty mulberry-tree
a straggler from Melbury (once Mulbery) Road
and this was probably one of the thousands planted
by King James when he became possessed of that



176 A GARDEN OF PEACE

admirable idea of silk culture in England. Now,
strange to say, I could picture to myself much more
vividly the presence of Addison in that garden than
I can the bustle of the old Castle's people within the
walls which dominate my present ground. These
people occupied the Castle from century to century.
When they first entered into possession they wore the
costume of the Conquest, and no doubt they hon-
oured the decrees of fashion as they changed from
year to year; but they faded away without leaving a
record of any personality to absorb the attention of
the centuries, and without such an individuality I
find it impossible to realise the scene, except for an
occasional hour when the moonlight bathes the tower
of the ruined keep, and I fancy that I hear the iron
tread of the warder going his rounds I cannot
plunge myself into the spacious days of plate armour.
It is the one Great Man or the one Great Woman
that enables us nowadays to realise his or her period,
and our Castle has unhappily no ghost with a name,
and one ghost with a name is more than an armed
host of nonentities. There is a tradition there is
just a scrap of evidence to support it that Dr. Sam-
uel Johnson once visited a house in the High Street
and ate cherries in the garden. Every time I have
visited that house I have seen the lumbering Hogarth-
ian hero intent upon his feast, and every time that I
am in that garden I hear the sound of his " Why,

sir "

I complained bitterly to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
when he was with us in the tilt-yard garden, that we



A GARDEN OF PEACE 177

had not even the shadow of a ghost ghosts by the
hundred, no doubt, but no real ghost of some one that
did things.

" You will have to create one for yourself," he said.

" One must have bones and flesh and blood plenty
of blood, before one can create a ghost, as you well
know," said I. "I have searched every available spot
for a name associated with the place, but I have found
nothing."

" Don't be in a hurry; he'll turn up some day when
you're not expecting him," said my friend.

But I am still awaiting an entity connected with
the Castle, and I swear, as did the young Lord
Hamlet:

" By Heaven ! I'll make a ghost of him that lets me."



CHAPTER THE SIXTEENTH


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Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreA garden of peace, a medley in quietude → online text (page 10 of 18)