A garden can be the source of inspiration for many things. Whether it’s the idea for a warming winter soup or whether one colour complements another. Creativity can burst out of someone just as a rose blooms with softness or vibrancy. So we’re going to bring you a series of blogs based around the inspirational gardens of well-known creatives and leaders.
This week we’re looking at writers and the gardens they tended to. If you look to literature for solace and escapism, you may also find inspiration for your garden in many forms. Gardens have played a huge part in the lives of many well known authors, giving them inspiration for settings, names and characters.
We’ll be exploring three authors whose inspirational gardens gave life to much of their creativity.
Louisa May Alcott- Author of Little Women
Although the garden that exists now is called Little Women Garden, the book is semi-autobiographical. So, Louisa May Alcott’s garden probably followed a similar theme or pattern. Alcott’s family house was based in Boston and her father named it ‘Orchard House’ as it contained around 40 apple trees. The perfect food in his opinion.
Alcott describes the garden patch of each sister in detail. Meg’s includes rose and myrtle, Jo changes up her flowers each season, at the time in the book she has sunflowers. The sunflower seeds are also food for the cockerels she keeps. Beth has “old fashioned, fragrant flowers” such as pansies and sweet peas . Finally, Amy wants a pretty and “picturesque” garden which features honeysuckle and white lilies. A patch of garden each as different in make-up as their personalities.
Charles Dickens- Author of Great Expectations
In Victorian Britain, gardening was beginning to take off as a hobby for the working and middle classes. Even those with no garden could dabble with growing their own plants. Dickens certainly had respect for those “who have no ground of their own [and] carry on their gardens in jugs and basins”.
Dickens had a love for all flowers but took a particular fancy to red geraniums. They were easy and cheap to grow and maintain and he enjoyed the bright, eye-catching colour of red. So in love with this flower, he had them under the bay windows of his house, on his dining room table and even supposedly in the button hole of his jacket. Dickens’ daughter Mamie told her father “Papa, I think when you are an angel your wings will be made of looking-glasses and your crown of scarlet geraniums.”
Jane Austen- Author of Pride and Prejudice
In Jane Austen’s family garden she speaks of “sweetbriar”, a type of rose, and other kinds of roses planted around their borders. However, securing “syringas” – which include lilacs and a group of other small, flowered woody plants – is her preference and “desire”.
Each of these authors show that the natural world and their inspirational gardens play a huge part in their lives. Not only in the fictional worlds of their novels, but also in their real lives and homes with their loved ones.
This shows how our gardens can reflect our own characters, where we can express our inner-most worlds through our horticultural choices.
Some flowers which were mentioned by the authors are part of the Primrose range. If you’ve been inspired, please feel free to take a look!