It looks just as beautiful as it did 400 years ago. It
appears that women have been in charge of the gardens ever since.
They kept it fluid like a woman would. Men try to complete everything
but that can conflict with a garden whose very nature is change. That
touch doesn't seem to have been crashed into by a man since I left
Here is what we did. As is stated on the Hatfield House web site:
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, employed John Tradescant the Elder to collect plants for his new home.
Tradescant was sent to Europe where he found and brought back trees,
bulbs, plants and fruit trees, Here
were mainly the coldest enduring plants that John could locate. From
all of these we took the 40% that were best at enduring cold weather
and put those in about 1/2 of the gardens.
we planted conventional plants in the other half. That
way if we had a cold wave in the summer 1/2 of the gardens would still
flourish with beauty.
The weather during the little ice age was warm usually but the main
was that it was terribly unstable. The years fluctuated wildly,
sometimes the summers would be warm and sometimes they would suddenly
become cold. The temperature could drop anytime from March to August.
In those years the growing
days would be cut by a lot. About one in six years the growing
season would drop like that, then warm back up again, so deciding what
plants to grow was playing
a form of Russian Roulette. Those were known as years with two falls.
You can read on this page more of what I wrote concerning the little ice age in England.
In normal years the two halves of the garden bloomed about a
month apart. First one half the gardens would bloom and then
month later as those flowers faded the other half of the gardens would leap
into bloom. If it was one of those strange years only the first of the flower beds would bloom.
how we organized the gardens until about 1620. The I got fed up with
the inclement weather and built some of the first greenhouses in
England (and the world).
is a side view of one of the greenhouses. They were cut into the ground
so that the dirt alone would kept the inside temperature from
freezing until about March. The glass side faced south and slightly
west so that also kept it warm inside most of the winter. The greenhouses were
about 45-60 feet long. We also had heaters installed for the coldest days
but we only used them for about ten days of the year and those days
were usually in March.
Actually the greenhouses were a lot like the Palm House at Kew Gardens but our panes of glass were a bit smaller.
A horse once went through one of the greenhouses when it's rider tried
to jump it and missed. Dogs could run over them but the sheep would
occasionally break through the glass with their hooves.
We were the first in England to grow Zinnias, a warm weather flower (left).
We started them in the greenhouses I think in March and then
later transplanted them outside.
We also breed the famous English Marigold (right). We made it a bit more colorful but more important we made them so they
would blossom over a long period of time. Also, the blossoms stayed
open longer and once they
were picked they took about three times as long to wilt as the original
marigolds. We made them usable in flower arrangements. My greatest
pleasure was in seeing them appear in markets all over England.
plant which got the most visitors excited were the various palm trees
we grew in the greenhouses. They almost always thought there was
something wrong with them since they had never seen a tree with only
upper branches and no lower ones. My reputation as a 'court jester' got me accused of turning a tree upside down and painting the roots green more than once!
I grew the first nutmeg tree (left) in the west. It was a by-product of the Dutch and English war over Run Island in
the early 17th century. It grew so fast that in four years time, even
with trimming, it was bursting through the roof in it's determination
grow to 50 feet tall. The Dutch had a monopoly on nutmegs so we tried
to break it. We contracted to start a farm in the tropics and
I sent several hundred small plants there but insects liked nutmeg as
much as humans did and it failed.
The truth be known, nutmeg was a major component of most
aphrodisiacs. People came from all over England just to see our tree since they were fascinated by
anything and every thing having to do with nutmegs as in this old
I had a little nut tree,
Nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg,
And a golden pear;
The King of Spain's daughter
Came to visit me,
And all for the sake
Of my little nut tree.
Her dress was made of crimson,
Jet black was her hair,
She asked me for my nut tree
And my golden pear.
I said, "So fair a princess
Never did I see,
I'll give you all the fruit
From my little nut tree. Wikipedia
The greenhouses worked so well that we built four of them. We had many tropical
plants and I think that included banana plants which were put outside and in
the house when they got large. We supplied a
lot of plants to the crown. We supplied exotic plants to King James and
Charles as well other government buildings.
The second use of two of the greenhouses were as comfortable
spaces or I guess you could call them the world's first conservatories.
them into reading rooms and visiting parlors. We had tables and chairs
set up in them where we could lounge away the winter afternoons among a
jungle of the only green plants in England while we read and visited.