Garden Visits – Mothers Day was indeed a Mothering Sunday visit to William Morris’s Red House and garden, in Bexley, London.
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”
William Morris’s famous saying is taken from a lecture he gave in 1880. The man himself was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and a founding member of the English Arts and Crafts Movement. He was a textile designer, artist and writer.
The Red House in Bexley was built for Morris and his wife Jane by the neo-Gothic architect Philip Webb in the 1850s.
Morris’s quote is one of the principles I bring to my garden designs. ‘Useful’ in the garden sense can mean edible plants, vegetables, fruit and herbs. These plants may be beautiful as well, of course.
Useful items which are not plants would include benches, raised beds, greenhouses, water butts, compost bins, bee hives.
Many of these garden sundries can also be ‘beautiful’, attractive to look at. ‘Beautiful’ encompasses the look of a plant, its colour, shape, form and, where appropriate, its scented flowers or aromatic foliage.
Garden Visits – Mothers Day is a predominantly pictorial garden blog. It can be enjoyed as a look at a kitchen garden in mid spring. I’ve picked out certain items to show how a second glance is always worthwhile.
A vegetable garden in spring may look empty and desolate.
But when you look more closely it has beauty as well as practicality.
And the most mundane items of garden equipment can take on the role of a garden statue if placed with an artistic eye.
I love Arts and Crafts style, for furniture, architecture, garden landscaping and garden design. Gertrude Jekyll is one of the garden designers who have inspired me. It’s not a harking back to a Golden Age of Gardening. Its acknowledging the clever juxtaposition of garden elements and tweaking it to fit with the demands of twenty-first century life.
The Red House garden is an oasis of productivity and scent hidden behind a red brick wall in what is now a London suburb. Once inside those walls, you do feel as if you’re back in the leafy Kent village that William Morris knew.
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