Today I invite you to stroll through the English gardens and parks. There is something to marvel at here. Due to the fact that almost every Englishman, regardless of profession, is a flower lover, the whole country gives the impression of a giant botanical garden, where plants from almost all over the world are collected. Many of them are native to subtropical and even tropical regions of the globe, but in the humid and mild climate of England, they grow outdoors. Suffice it to say that the average January temperature here is about +5 degrees.
In this country, the abundance of botanical gardens is striking. They are found not only in large cities and university centers, but in many relatively small towns. And many private gardens give the impression of small botanical collections, where each plant corresponds to a plate with a Latin name. By the way, most of these private gardens are open to the general public, and for a relatively modest fee, you can take a stroll through the garden, significantly expanding your botanical knowledge. When fatigue makes itself felt, you can have a snack in a cafe, and finally look into the store to buy some of the plants you like. Indeed, as a rule, each private garden, open for public visits, has its own small nursery and there are plenty of people who want to buy its products.
A true English craze
The British are deservedly proud of their lawns. Lawn cultivation has been a national passion of the British for centuries, to say the least. The oldest English lawns - Oxford and Cambridge - are several hundred years old. This figure can hardly fit into the head of a European, not to mention the Americans, whose national history is much shorter than the history of English lawns. It is said that an American, amazed at the sight of a perfectly flat English lawn, asked a gardener who looked after him what to do to achieve the same effect. “Sir,” he answered with dignity, “you need not be lazy to mow your lawn every day and water it regularly, and then, after 100 years, it will look exactly the same”.
There is a grain of truth in this joke, but only a grain. Once in England, I was surprised to find that the British are not as fanatical about lawn maintenance as we used to think. Of course, in especially ceremonial places, for example, in front of royal residences, the lawns are cut to the last blade of grass and represent a perfectly flat green carpet, but in public, not to mention private gardens, they are neat, but nothing more. The presence of daisies, bryozoans and veronica does not bother anyone. But plantain and dandelion are found on English lawns much less often than here. Apparently, due to the higher quality of the lawn mixtures and the soil that the British use when arranging lawns.
In England, you can hardly find a chilling inscription: "Do not walk on the lawns", which is so dear to the keepers of order in Russia. They treat the lawn very practically there. A green meadow is not only a wonderful backdrop for trees, shrubs and flowers, creating a magnificent setting for garden compositions, but also a place for relaxation. The British understand what it means for a city dweller to just walk barefoot on the grass or lie in the shade of a tree. And it would never occur to anyone to suggest that a person perched on the lawn has no other place to rest, and that a couple in love, kissing in front of everyone in the middle of the lawn, is especially delighted by flaunting their relationship. It seems quite natural to the British and children playing on the grass of city gardens and squares, but for picnics with snacks and libations in England they are trying to find another place, away from human eyes.This is already a private life, which in this country does not like to advertise.
By the way, the lawns of many English gardens are decorated with spring-blooming bulbous plants, and above all, daffodils and crocuses. In early spring, which begins in late February and early March in the British Isles, bright spots of blooming daffodils and crocuses color English lawns. At this time, there are still few flowers in the garden, so a blooming lawn becomes one of its main decorations, and trees with dark, moisture-saturated bark and swollen, barely hatched leaves create a vibrant vibrant background for it.
As a rule, the British plant bulbous plants on the lawn in groups, trying to achieve maximum naturalness. They say that for this you need to throw bulbs on the lawn and plant them where they fell. In the spring, you have to take your time with mowing the lawn: they start it only after the leaves of the bulbous plants have dried up, and the bulbs have accumulated enough nutrients for flowering next year.
England is considered the birthplace of a European landscape style that emphasizes the beauty of natural surroundings. In English landscape gardens, trees and shrubs are arranged in free picturesque groups, paths follow the contours of the relief, and the water enlivens the landscape with the smooth flow of rivers and the water surface of ponds. Landscaped gardens create a sense of natural beauty and one has to guess how much effort it took the gardeners to create this natural idyll.
The cult of natural naturalness also dominates the minds of modern English gardeners. In English gardens and parks (unless this is a historic estate), you will not find flower beds of the correct geometric shape with plants neatly planted in a row or in a circle. The most popular form of flower garden in England is the mixborder. As a rule, its background is created by trees with a contrasting color of foliage, they are "knocked out", in the language of professional designers, with ornamental shrubs, and a wide strip of flowers is already in the foreground. The framing of all this splendor is a green lawn, which sometimes narrows, bringing us closer to the flowers, or, on the contrary, expands and we see only the contours of plants and individual color spots.
If the mixborder is designed for contemplation from a distant distance, the plants are selected with large, textured leaves or lush inflorescences - buzulniki, delphiniums, volzhanki, irises ... The same flower beds that are admired up close are filled with charming, but more miniature plants - forget-me-nots, pansies, primrose , foxgloves, geraniums and the cuff so beloved by the British. The British have a strange affection for this plant with round wavy leaves at the edges, on which droplets of water gleam like pearls. Probably, the whole point is that this seemingly unassuming plant is an excellent background for brighter flowers and is very consistent with the design style of modern English flower gardens. Today in England, more than ever, wild flowers and grasses, ferns, “colored” forms of common weeds - dimples, quinoa, plantains are popular ... The flower garden itself often resembles a cheerful Moorish lawn, dazzling with bright colors of pristine nature. Thanks to this, a special atmosphere of simplicity and naturalness arises in the garden, which city dwellers sometimes lack so much.
My home is my castle
Along with the famous English landscape-style parks, good old England is famous for its small private gardens. Their owners sometimes show no less imagination and invention than professional landscape architects. When decorating houses, the British do not limit themselves to arranging flower beds and planting picturesque groups of trees and shrubs on the front lawn.A real English dwelling is necessarily entwined with shoots of all kinds of vines - clematis, honeysuckle, wisteria, climbing roses ... Old brick houses are usually not plastered and against such a background the vines, especially during flowering, look very elegant. The entrance to the house is usually decorated with ceramic and stone pots and pots, where miniature trees and shrubs, lavender, bulbous and spicy crops grow. Containers and baskets of multi-colored petunias, fuchsias and pelargoniums, suspended from cornices and window frames, complete the picturesque picture of an English house.
Blind fences around houses are rare. They are replaced by green fences or openwork trellises. Low fences are usually made of old bricks or stone slabs. Often these fences are tens or even hundreds of years old and, like the walls of the house, are entwined with vines. The English gardens are open to the world and somehow I can't even believe that it was in England that the expression was born: "My home is my fortress."
Every nation has its own favorite flowers, which can be found literally in any garden. For the British, these are undoubtedly primroses, daffodils and roses.
They say that wherever an Englishman settles, he will definitely try to plant primroses, dear to his heart, near his house, evoking memories of his homeland. Daffodils, considered a symbol of Wales, are no less beloved in England. It is hard to imagine that phlegmatic and level-headed Englishmen could be as keen on flowers as happened to the Dutch during the famous "tulip fever". And nevertheless, England experienced its “flower fever”, though not “tulip”, but “daffodil.” In the 19th century, the whole country was fascinated by the development of new varieties of daffodils, which were sold at exorbitant prices. very significant conditions.
The British were no less enthusiastic about the cultivation of roses. In memory of the War of the Scarlet and White Roses, English gardeners breed a special red and white rose variety, symbolizing national reconciliation. Its snow-white petals are covered with red spots like drops of blood, reminiscent of the dear price that had to be paid for national consent. Nevertheless, the symbol of England, like many centuries ago, still remains the red rose: after all, as you know, the British value traditions above all else.
Photos by the author