Your Garden – How Penelope Hobhouse Can Help Make it Better

Life is filled with delightful surprises.

In talking to our neighbors my husband discovered that we shared similar taste in movies. Thus, Bill started sharing our best Swashbucklers and other favorites with them. The other day he brought home one belonging to our neighbors, which turned out to be a garden DVD rather than a movie. IT WAS WONDERFUL!

Gardens of the World with Audry Hepburn. It’s done in “Chapters” similar to a book.

In the Flower Garden “Chapter” of the program, Audrey Hepburn visited various Flower Gardens throughout the world. The one I found much to my liking wasn the English country side of Sommerset, The National Trust Gardens at Tintinhull House. The borders and gardens look as if they may have been planted by nature and perfectly represent the English Natural-Style Gardens.

I believe this “Chapter” of the program was filmed in 1993 which was the last year of the 14 years famed garden writer, designer, and historian, Penelope Hobhouse was (with her husband) in charge of the National Trust Gardens at Tintinhull House.

I love so many of her ideas and was encouraged to find that I had (or am in the process) of implementing many things into my gardens that she finds important to gardens overall and that helps lift them to greater heights structurally and visually.

Flower Border in Front of Our Home

Ms. Hobhouse has not been confined to one small property but has had the opportunity to visit the gardens of world (and design some) which I feel sure have lifted her concepts and knowledge to a level that most people will not attain.

She has designed gardens all over the world including a garden for Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The Country Garden for the Royal Horticultural Society and an Herb Garden for the New York Botanical Garden are two other significant gardens included in her repertoire.

It appears that Ms. Hobhouse has spent her life gardening on a grand scale and has thus learned things on a level that most are not privilege to for various reasons.

It’s sorta like any profession or skill. When you first start you see things totally different than you do after you have learned more, seen more, and have done more. Your “eye” changes. You become more sophisticated than the novice or the one who is limited in what they have learned, seen, or done.

Keep in mind that when Ms. Hobhouse talks about a garden – it can be an acre or 10 acres or more in size. Hardly the size I think of when I speak of a  garden. (The English consider a Garden as encompassing everything on their property: the house, the yard, and surrounding flower beds.)

She has written a book entitled the Small Garden: Planning, Preparation and Planting which I have just ordered for the price of 80 cents! (More about that in a minute.) I have a feeling that her idea of small and mine are vastly differently.

Nonetheless, so many of her concepts and ideas are so basic and wonderful almost anyone can apply them no matter what the size of their garden and I feel any book by her would be an asset and certainly your library of knowledge is not complete without several of her books.

I have just ordered 9 of her classics ranging in price from 1 cent to a whopping $5.27. (Yes, you read it correctly.) When first released you would have to pay $35 and up for most of the books. Thanks to the age of the internet we are able to acquire these books – sometimes used, but like new – for pennies. Even including the usual $3.99 shipping charge, any of the books are still a tremendous bargain.

Color in Your Garden is probably one of her most influential and best known books as is Penelope Hobhouse on Gardening.

When you begin (or continue) to educate yourself with books by authors of Ms. Hobhouse’s caliber and reputation, you discover the other world outside your garden and expand your horizons.  Then when you speak of your passion you have more facts (not just emotion) to back up what you say. Having a well rounded collection of garden books is necessary to clarify what you know and help you understand how much you don’t know, but should know.

The idea is not to do everything she does, but rather weigh, consider, learn and at the same time keep your individuality and pursue your own vision. Her vision, skills, experiences, and knowledge will help you grow and help make your garden world better.

In up and coming posts I will give you several tips that Ms. Hobhouse used to make the National Trust Gardens wonderful.

In the interim I strongly urge you to add a few of these wonderful classics (shown below) to your library. The prices are so minimal that anyone who really wants these books can have them.

One note of caution – make sure you look at ALL the prices. For example when you click on Flower Gardens the price will show as $23.89, but if you look carefully you will see that several are available from $1.89.

And by the way, I have ordered used books and they have come looking just like new, so don’t be overly cautious about ordering one that has had a prior owner. You can’t go wrong for these prices and you will gain knowledge worth many times over your minimal investment.

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