Meet the Gardeners
13th April 2017
It was not the best day for visiting a garden. The day, Wednesday, started grey and cloudy, progressed to misty and then spread that thin, wet, Manchester drizzle over everything. The tulips drooped, the flowers of the magnolia stellata hung limply and the old daffodil flowers were no longer just shriveled but were definitely dead! So we had not chosen the best day for our Meet the Gardeners Day at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.
On the plus side all the members of the gardening group were there and the garden was a hive of activity. A former volunteer came to say hello and buy plants. The lawn was given a fine, crisp edge. The fruit garden was dug over and weeds taken out of the flower beds. Inside the house we had a good display of plants and seeds from the garden, there were second hand gardening books for sale and the house was full of children searching out answers to the quiz and making things with coloured card and crayons.
Preparing for the day was a reminder that the garden at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is a public garden and that however much enjoyment we gardeners get out of planting and maintaining the garden, its purpose is to to be part of the pleasure members of the public get when they visit. I hope also that people who live in the area and walk past it, or through it, on their way to college, school, work or wherever, enjoy seeing it prosper.
Mrs Gaskell liked the fact that the garden was walled and private which allowed her to go out without a bonnet. But now the garden has open railings on two sides and the beds are clearly visible. So the planting has taken that into account. At the moment there are hyacinths, cowslips and perennial honesty at the front next to the railings and daffodils along the side. There is even a rose in flower close by the railings at the side. When the summer roses, perennials and shrubs are in flower they can be seen as you walk past on the street.
So while the garden was private when the Gaskells lived there, it is now a public space and I welcome that and I look forward to many “Meet the Gardeners” days, but without the drizzle!
Volunteer Gardener at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
Do you know I believe the garden will be a great delight in our new house. Clay soil it will be, and there is no help for it, but it will be gay and bright with common flowers; and is quite shut in, – and one may get out without bonnet, which is a blessing. I always want my head cool and stray about in the odd five minutes
Elizabeth Gaskell, Letter to Eliza Fox, 26 April 1850