Preserving Precious Knowledge
A look into the past illustrating the benefits of preserving precious knowledge and how we can keep it alive.
As gardeners, we get our knowledge and inspiration from the older generations. It is our cultural responsibility to preserve this precious gift and pleasingly pass it on so that future enthusiasts may enjoy the fruits of time. The complexity and costly processes of the modern world have led us to believe that keeping a garden is so difficult. There is so much inadequate information to wade through on the ‘ever growing’ internet and you find yourself drowning in the immersion of contradictory tips and tricks, when all you wanted was a quick and simple answer to that burning question about your tomatoes. But in reality, it is the humble gardener that has stood the test of time. Looking to our elders is by far the best form of education. Our grandparents can tell us stories of how their grandparents did things. They are like a delicate dictionary of an edible Eden waiting to explode with exciting recitals, rituals and intriguingly interesting stories. So why do we look to the infuriating internet before our factual families that are being forgotten? After all, this weightless knowledge has been earned through years of practice, countless hours of reading and ‘back breaking’ work. A garden that produces food and beautiful flowers didn’t used to be so complicated, but it seems that gardening has become more commonly known as a chore than a pleasurable past time and small failures discourage even the keenest of vegetable growers.
So, here are a few stories that have inspired me on my educational journey through the gardens of the ages.
From Anne Hudson
My mother had ‘green fingers’ and people often said that she was able to bring any cutting to life. She spent hours working in the greenhouse potting up seeds and nurturing trees back to health. Her garden looked like the driveway to heaven with the sundial that sat so proud and the strategically placed shrubs, everything just seemed to fit. The hanging baskets adding depth to the endless edges and the bird bath bringing life to the bold borders. In the summer things really came to life and the alluring array of colour was almost blinding. We used to enjoy sitting at the patio table eating our sandwiches whilst we watched the younger children of the family running through the sprinklers and spraying each other with the hosepipe. They would often bring us flowers that they had picked from our gracious garden and decorate our hair with them. Then came the blackberry pie that my mother had baked with the brambles that the boys had brought from the from the beck at the back of the fields. There fingers still stained blue and their tongues still tingling from the tasty treat that they had craftily collected.
I eventually moved into my own house and managed to acquire some cuttings from my family and neighbours. These plants are still growing today and a walk around our garden is like a trip down memory lane, from the Shamrock that Aunty Joyce gave me from her modest garden, to the Asparagus Fern that fell from our neighbour Ella’s tree. Each plant tells its own story, like the branch of the Lace Cap Hydrangea that broke off my mother’s tree in a bad storm which she gave to me. We also have a slow growing Variegated Privet that was rescued from the town centre when a group of vandals had been out on a rampage. My husband and I were walking home and saw the plants sadly strewn along the road. The tub had been bashed and broken, and there were pieces all over. We picked up what was left of the plant and took it home. Amazingly it is still thriving today. Another gift was a Christmas Rose that a colleague from work gave which we often dig up bits of and share them with our friends. We also have cuttings from a Fire Fern and a Hypericum that out friends generously gave to us.
Most of these plants still thrive though most of the donors have passed on now, but the beautiful thing is they are a true living memory of the kind people that gave them to us.