Thursday 30 April 2015

Remembering Margery Allingham and the Campion series, produced by the BBC ...

A Lagonda 16/80 featured extensively in the series. The car used in the series is now kept in Germany

Campion is a television show made by the BBC, adapting the Albert Campion mystery novels written by Margery Allingham. Two series were made, in 1989 and 1990, starring Peter Davison as Campion, Brian Glover as his manservant Magersfontein Lugg and Andrew Burt as his policeman friend Stanislaus Oates.

A total of eight novels were adapted, four in each series, each of which was originally broadcast as two separate hour-long episodes. Peter Davison sang the title music for the first series himself; in the second series, it was replaced with an instrumental version.

Series 1 - 1989
"Look to the Lady"
A mystery surrounding an ancient chalice. Features Gordon Jackson as Professor Cairey. Original air dates 22 and 29 January 1989.
Book first published in 1931.

"Police at the Funeral"
The death of a member of a wealthy family. Features Timothy West as Uncle William Faraday. Original air dates 5 and 12 February 1989.
Book first published in 1931.

"The Case of the Late Pig"
A man appears to have died twice. Features Michael Gough as Mr Hayhoe. Original air dates 19 and 26 February 1989.
Book first published in 1937.

"Death of a Ghost"
A painter's legacy leads to murder. Features Jean Anderson as Belle Lafcadio and Carole Ruggier as Rosa. Original air dates 5 and 12 March 1989.
Book first published in 1934.

Series 2 - 1990
"Sweet Danger"
The ownership of a tiny kingdom leads to a deadly treasure hunt. Features Lysette Anthony as Amanda Fitton and David Haig as Guffy Randall. Original air dates 12 and 19 January 1990.
Book first published in 1933.

"Dancers in Mourning"
A series of pranks, and worse, upset a leading theatre star and his bizarre household. Features Ian Ogilvy as Jimmy Sutane and Pippa Guard as Linda Sutane. Original air dates 9 and 16 February 1990.
Book first published in 1937.

"Flowers for the Judge"
Murder visits a respectable London publishing house. Features Robert Lang as John Barnabas and Barrie Ingham as Ritchie Barnabas. Original air dates 23 February and 2 March 1990.
Book first published in 1936.

"Mystery Mile"
Campion must protect the family of an American judge on the trail of a sinister crime boss. Features Lisa Orgolini as Isobel Lobbett and Miles Anderson as Anthony Datchett. Original air dates 9 and 16 March 1990.

Book first published in 1930.

Margery Louise Allingham (20 May 1904 – 30 June 1966) was an English writer of detective fiction, best remembered for her "golden age" stories featuring gentleman sleuth Albert Campion.
Her breakthrough occurred in 1929 with the publication of The Crime at Black Dudley. This introduced Albert Campion, albeit originally as a minor character. He returned in Mystery Mile, thanks in part to pressure from her American publishers, much taken with the character. By now, with three novels behind her, Allingham's skills were improving, and with a strong central character and format to work from, she began to produce a series of popular Campion novels. At first she had to continue writing short stories and journalism for magazines such as The Strand Magazine, but as her Campion saga went on, her following, and her sales, grew steadily. Campion proved so successful that Allingham made him the centrepiece of another 17 novels and over 20 short stories, continuing into the 1960s.

Campion is a mysterious, upper-class character (early novels hint that his family is in the line of succession to the throne), working under an assumed name. He floats between the upper echelons of the nobility and government on one hand and the shady world of the criminal class in the United Kingdom on the other, often accompanied by his scurrilous ex-burglar servant Lugg. During the course of his career he is sometimes detective, sometimes adventurer. As the series progresses he works more closely with the police and MI6 counter-intelligence. He falls in love, gets married and has a child, and as time goes by he grows in wisdom and matures emotionally. As Allingham's powers developed, the style and format of the books moved on: while the early novels are light-hearted whodunnits or "fantastical" adventures, The Tiger in the Smoke (1952) is more character study than crime novel, focusing on serial killer Jack Havoc. In many of the later books Campion plays a subsidiary role no more prominent than his wife Amanda and his police associates; by the last novel he is a minor character. In 1941, she published a non-fiction work, The Oaken Heart, which described her experiences in Essex when an invasion from Germany was expected and actively being planned for, potentially placing the civilian population of Essex in the front line.

Margery Allingham: the Dickens of detective writing
Margery Allingham’s books show the evolution from well-plotted, bloodless stories to psychologically acute crime novels

By Jake Kerridge

Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, James Bond, Philip Marlowe, Lord Peter Wimsey… Hardly a week goes by without a venerable fictional detective being de-mothballed so some new author can make a bit of cash out of their old-fashioned charm. Enjoyable as some of these new books are, I’m not sure we can say that all the original writers would have approved. But somebody who was an early adopter of the idea of a crime series being continued by other hands was Margery Allingham (1904-66), the creator of the aristocratic sleuth, Albert Campion. Virtually on her deathbed she decreed that her husband, Philip Youngman Carter, a former editor of Tatler, should keep the Campion saga going.
With an uxoriousness that he had not been notable for showing when his wife was alive, Carter carried out her wishes and wrote a number of Campions before his own death three years later. A manuscript he left unfinished has now been completed with a good deal of wit, style and Allingham-esque lightness of touch by Mike Ripley, the former crime fiction reviewer of this newspaper, under the title Mr Campion’s Farewell.
This seems like a good opportunity, then, to reassess Allingham’s work. Literary historians usually lump her together with Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh as one of the “Queens of Crime” from the so-called Golden Age of English detective fiction – roughly, the period between the wars. The history of crime fiction in the 20th century has often been presented as the evolution of the “detective story” – bloodless, lightweight, prizing plot over characterisation – into the “crime novel”: grown-up, disturbing, psychologically acute. Allingham’s Campion novels offer a rare example of this evolution taking place within the work of one author.
She started off as perhaps the most frivolous of the lot. Christie and Sayers, both older than Allingham, were more deeply affected by the First World War (in their respective early books Poirot is a refugee and Peter Wimsey is recovering from shell shock). Allingham, born within a few months of Evelyn Waugh, was part of that post-war generation of Bright Young Things who devoted themselves with the utmost seriousness to levity, in reaction to the grim times just passed. Her early books are full of genial young toffs, ever ready with quips as they casually outwit master criminals and track down stolen treasures.
In The Crime at Black Dudley (1929), she introduced the gangly, bespectacled Mr Campion, who masks his intelligence behind a slightly irritating stream of sub-Bertie Wooster prattle. “Campion” is a pseudonym, used by our sleuth to hide the fact that he is of noble blood. Later in life, Allingham would imply that he was actually the Duke of York, the future George VI.

Queen of crime
You might not read Margery Allingham's detective novels for the plots, but her stories and insights are so irresistible that guests keep stealing them, discovers Jane Stevenson

Jane Stevenson

At least twice in my life I have owned the complete works of Margery Allingham, but I keep finding that some have gone astray. The detective-story collection is stockpiled in the spare bedroom, and over the years I have found that the Allinghams effortlessly top the list of Books Most Often Nicked (I stole half of them from my mother in the first place; thin wartime Penguins with brittle, browning paper and advertisements for Kolynos toothpaste or Craven "A"s in the back). Quite a few people pass through this house, and I can only think that guests pick up an Allingham to read in bed, get hooked and take it away. I can't think of any other writer who has quite this effect, certainly not among the interwar queens of crime.

Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh are fundamentally focused on "how". Their characterisation is crude, a bundle of quirks and characteristic utterances - Poirot's "little grey cells" - while the actual writing is un- demanding. Once the puzzle has been solved, there is no point in looking at the book again: if you accidentally pick up a Christie you've read before, you put it down again as soon as you realise it's the one where the murderer turns out to be the butler's identical twin brother. Gladys Mitchell's books you are sometimes, but not inevitably, pleased to revisit. She turned out more than 60 potboilers and an occasional perverse masterpiece (The Rising of the Moon is my personal favourite).

By contrast, all Allingham novels (except perhaps the first two) will, like those of Dorothy Sayers, stand a good deal of rereading. But for all her considerable intelligence and art, and her obvious feminism, Sayers's fiction is made hard to read by her snobbery and racism. She quite patently saw working-class people as lesser beings than the effortlessly superior Lord Peter, and she was profoundly anti-semitic. This is not a problem with Allingham, who was a person of genuinely wide human sympathy. For example, generally in interwar detective stories, charwomen feature as imbecilic, drunken crones. But Miss Diane in The Beckoning Lady is a precisely observed character with a history and something of an inner life, presented without condescension.

Allingham also has the enormous advantage over Sayers of being fond of her hero, but not in love with him. Albert Campion starts his career as a silly-ass-about-town in the Peter Wimsey mode, but he rapidly quietens down to a far more mature and reflective personality who is palpably affected by the changing textures of English life between the early 1930s and late 60s. Postwar, it is increasingly clear that Campion's real business is with counter-intelligence (Allingham hugely admired Le Carré), and the detective stories are merely interruptions to a professional life lived not in the books, but between them.

She is the least puzzle-minded of great detective-story writers. The question that always interests her most is "why". Her plotting is a device to express character: why specific people are led to do the things they do, a concern that significantly advanced the genre. One aspect of the enduring appeal of her books is that she was truly interested in how a life which seems monumentally weird from outside can be one particular person's normality. What "ordinary" means for a dodgy undertaker, perhaps, or a retired chorus girl. It is this capacity for observation which has often made people think of her as "Dickensian". Dickens invented surprisingly little, but walked about London (he was a great walker), and kept his eyes and ears open.

Allingham, as she moved about in shops, on trains or buses, in the street, did the same. As her books demonstrate, she was a shameless eavesdropper. Fat and friendly, she wandered through life looking innocuous and easy to talk to, and the troubled, the boastful or the just plain weird gravitated towards her. There is a certain advantage for a woman novelist in being middle-aged and overweight. You acquire a curious social invisibility: strangers sometimes carry on in front of you as if you weren't there; or if they chance to fall into conversation, they talk, on occasion, with a surprising lack of inhibition. Allingham's uncontrollable weight was a source of anxiety and distress in her life (it arose from a thyroid problem), and she was often sad and anxious, but she kept her griefs strictly to herself. The people she encountered found her charming, sympathetic and jolly, and she made good use of this. She listened, and she remembered - not merely to what people said, but to how they said it. She has as good an ear for the quirks of individual speech as any English novelist, and a great gift for seeing what was in front of her. As with Dickens, the panorama of human oddities she presents reflects reality. I was brought up in London, and I have been much given to mooching about talking to strangers. Over the years, I have encountered not a few London characters who could have come straight out of one of her books.

Another thing which makes her books worth revisiting is that she has such an acute sense of place. Many of them are love-songs to London itself, where she lived on and off throughout her life. She could do Mayfair when she wanted to, yet she was sharply observant of run-down working-class areas, which to her were not mean streets, but bursting with complex life. As she became more prosperous, however, she moved out to an old house in a small Essex village, Tolleshunt d'Arcy, though she maintained a pied-à-terre in Great Russell Street. Her two homes thus gave her two areas of focus: East Anglia/Essex and London. All the books are set in one or the other. In an interesting short story, a "lady of the manor" has a well-organised life that includes a monthly weekend in London. Her family do not enquire what she does there; but she is, in fact, meeting a lover. Allingham did no such thing, but as her character enters her little flat, arranged entirely without reference to the interest or convenience of her or anyone else, she becomes, in a fundamental sense, a different person. The story implies that even if Allingham's affair was with London in general rather than someone in particular, her two lives were very separate in her mind.

She is unusual among detective novelists in having a real understanding of the way the country works. Country life and city life are intricately textured in completely different ways; she understands a lot about both. I lived in the English countryside for a long time, and when I had to deal with much the sort of old fellows Allingham describes in books such as Mystery Mile, I often recalled, during tortuous negotiations, Amanda's philosophical advice with respect to questioning an old countryman - "not only will you not learn anything at all, but all your rabbits will die". Allingham could see that "coming the yokel" was often a deliberate strategy employed by tough and shrewd people to force negotiations on to their own ground, and by no means an indication of stupidity.

I doubt if anybody reads a Margery Allingham for the detection, since the plots are mostly fantastical to the point of campness. Her most interesting individual twist on the genre was to abandon detection entirely and write what I think of as a "convergence" story. That is, you, the reader, meet both the criminal and the detective early on. Thus suspense related to discovery is set entirely to one side, and the interest is transferred to questions of the villain's psychology and how, or if, the detectives catch up with him (The Tiger in the Smoke and Hide My Eyes are the classic instances). I imitated this structure in London Bridges, a fond homage to Allingham's thrillers in which all the "detection" that there is takes place on page 274 in the course of about two minutes.

Each one of her books has its own atmosphere. Not only is it distinctly located in a particular place, or places, but each one is a very precise reflection of the mood of the year in which it was written - which, again, is unusual in a crime novelist of her vintage. Interwar detective stories tended towards nostalgia and a certain fuzziness about dates which would make the books easier to reissue. Allingham's earliest books are like that, but the war made a great difference to her. She wrote a memoir of life in Tolleshunt in the first year of the war (The Oaken Heart), and this seems to have drawn her attention to the speed at which attitudes and mentalities were changing, a subject that came to fascinate her.

Thus the stories written during and after the war respond precisely to change. I am writing a biography of a man of Allingham's generation, the painter Edward Burra, and when I was reading up on social history, moving forward in time through his life, it occurred to me that her crisply observant evocation of the specific textures and concerns of the present moment would be very useful, precisely because she wasn't intentionally writing a commentary on the times. This turned out to be absolutely the case. Though her work is fantastical, it is rooted in observation of the differences between the formative experiences of one generation and the next.

She must have been one of the first writers to observe the alienating potential of tower blocks, even while the concrete was still setting in the first wave of postwar town planning. "It's not quite like a street," says a policeman in The China Governess, contemplating a tower-block corridor. "A lot can happen without the neighbours knowing." Equally, she was the first mass-market British writer to involve computers in a plot, as early as 1952 - a Hollerith, in fact, the punch-card precursor to true computers - in The Tiger in the Smoke

All the books include a murder and its resolution, and most of them also have a love story. The first is a genre requirement, the second an optional extra that allows Allingham to maintain the light-hearted tone she generally prefers. But if one looks at the deeper currents in her work, one theme that repeatedly arises is how individuals adapt to the changing world and, above all, to their own displacement by their natural successors. This is the central theme of More Work for the Undertaker, for example. Much of her work protests the refusal of one generation to recognise the legitimate needs of another; or looks at how they can coexist with mutual respect. Heavy themes for light fiction; but handled with such ease and grace that it is only in retrospect, if at all, that one realises the book has engaged with some very serious ideas.

From Coroner's Pidgin by Margery Allingham

"My dear man," said Gee-gee pityingly. "We can't have a row. After all, Johnny is who he is, isn't he? I know its fashionable to pretend to ignore that, but one doesn't really, does one? No, we can't have Johnny involved in anything definitely unpleasant. That's absurd, Johnny's sans reproche. I'll get this chap to see reason, but it's not going to be a walkover. Doctors have got completely out of hand, these days. I'll have to concentrate on him if you don't mind. I'll see you downstairs, shall I?"

The last remark was not a question and he opened the door again. He spoke once more before he disappeared.

"Thanks for the coffee. Awfully good of you. There's not a lot of help in the kitchen, I'm afraid."

"You'd be surprised," said Mr Campion briefly, and went downstairs.

He picked up his hat on the way and walked quietly out of the house. He met no one, and was thankful. The darkness swallowed him as he struck south-west purposefully. Having reached a decision he felt relieved; this was the end of them all, as far as he was concerned. There was just one more thing that must be done and then he'd wash his hands of them.

As he strode on through the misty darkness he tried to put the whole business out of his mind, but it was not so easy. After long years of practice he had developed a routine, and now, despite his inclinations, his brain persisted in carrying on quietly with the investigation. Every scrap of information which he had gathered in the twenty-four hours revolved before his inward eye, trying to slip into the pattern which was already forming. The discovery that Gold assumed automatically that Johnny was privileged beyond all the normal bounds of civilized behaviour, was one of these. It had been odd coming from him and had reminded Mr Campion of an incident of his own youth when the nurse of the small friend who had just pushed him into the Round Pond, had turned to his own avenging Nanna, and had said in exactly the same tone of startled protest:

"But he's a Duke."

At the age of four and a quarter, Mr Campion had taken a poor view of the excuse and did so now, with the added advantage of knowing that ninety-nine percent of the world agreed with him. All the same, he found it interesting to note that the remaining one per cent still existed, and was at large. Another little piece of the jigsaw slid into place.

Published May 2004
Lucas Books of Thorndon, Suffolk, ISBN 1903797-35,

Margery Allingham: an appreciation by Sara Paretsky
'Children not Sausages' by Andrew Taylor

CHAPTER 1: GROWING UP 1904 - 1920
'The Education of a Writer: Margery Allingham at Home and School' by Marianne van Hoeven
'The Rescue of the Rainclouds' by Margery Allingham

'The Apothecary': a dramatic monologue by Margery Allingham
'"My Brain is Young; I still have strength": Margery Allingham's Dido and Aeneas' by Tony Medawar
'A Medal' by Margery Allingham

'The Genesis of Blackkerchief Dick' by B.A.Pike
'Green Corn' by Margery Allingham

'A Family Likeness: the place of Margery Allingham in the pantheon of detective-story writers' by Catherine Aird
'Albert Campion – the Truth' by Roger Johnson
'100 Lines for Albert Campion' by B.A.Pike
'The Inimitable Lugg' by Geraldine Perriam
'I Should Have Listened to Mother' by Catherine Cooke
'Classifying Amanda: female and femininity in the pre-war writing of Margery Allingham' by Marianne van Hoeven
'The Real Miss 1938' by Frank Swinnerton
'For Better or for Worse: a Sociologist and Crime-writer's View of Sweet Danger' by Michelle Spring

'Maxwell March' by B.A.Pike
'Re X Deceased' by Margery Allingham
'The Man from the Shadows' or 'The Man Who Died' by Margery Allingham

'Undertakers at the Funeral' by Nicholas Fuller
'Lafcadio: the Painter and Posterity' by John Sweetman
'Campion finds the Circus' by Shirley Purves
'Dancers in Mourning: From Page to Screen' by Susan Rowland
'Fashions in Shrouds: Fashions in Forensic Pathology' by Stephen Leadbeatter

'Short and Sweet' by Martin Edwards
'The Public Spirit of Francis Smith' by Margery Allingham
'Six Against the Yard and 'It didn't work out'' by B.A.Pike
'A Proper Mystery' by Margery Allingham
'A New Sort of Web' by Amanda Whytenor

CHAPTER 8: MARGERY'S WAR 1939 - 1945
'"A fine sturdy piece of work": Margery Allingham reviewing for Time and Tide 1938-1944' by Julia Jones.
'Black Plumes: the 'forgotten' novel' by Susan Peters
'A Corner in Crime' by Margery Allingham
'Remembering Marge' by Oriel Malet
'The Permutations of James: some notes on Margery's Victorian ancestors' by Julia Jones

'Margery Allingham: an appreciation' by H.R.F. Keating
'Memories of Auntie Margery and Uncle Pip' by Guy M. Wilson
'Naming Names and Playing Games' by Jennifer Schofield
Margery and Lavinia: a letter from Edward Davis
'Margery Allingham's London' by Richard Cheffins
'From Albert to Albertine' by Jessica Mann

'Margery Allingham' by Natasha Cooper
'My Characters' by Margery Allingham
'Brief Encounter' by Margaret Yorke
'London my Market Town' by Margery Allingham
'In the Eye of the Beholder: Quirky Museums of Margery Allingham' by B.J. Rahn
'Margery Allingham: a centennial appreciation' by Robert Barnard
'The Relay (1964): Margery Allingham on Ageing' by Margaret Kinsman
'Re-visiting Campion Country' by June Thomson

Monday 27 April 2015

Two Books / The History Of Gardening.

Gardeners will be astounded to discover how little of their craft is new. Most of the methods used today hark back to ancient civilizations and the gardens of Egypt, Rome, and Persia. Illustrated with hundreds of photographs and line drawings, An Illustrated History of Gardening is an authoritative tome tracing the history and development of this centuries-old craft. Grafting techniques, lawn care, propagation, irrigation, greenhousing, and specialty gardening are some of the topics thoroughly discussed, and illustrated, within this book. No less fascinating are the surveys of ideas about composting from ancient times through the experiments in commercially produced fertilizers carried out by early-American gardeners such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin to a discussion of the relative merits of organic and chemical gardening. The gardener has always been a person of imagination and adaptability, and An Illustrated History of Gardening shows how this craft has survived for thousands of years.

An Historical Look at the Art of Gardening

By Anthony Huxley, foreword by Charles Elliott
Copyright 1978, 1998

The Lyons Press, New York

ISBN: 1-55821-693-6.

"The Illustrated History of Gardening" by the late Anthony Huxley captures elements of what gardening must have been like in days long past, as well as a sense of more recent changes in how and why we toil in the earth. Published in 1978 and re-released with a foreword by Charles Elliott in 1998, the 352-page book provides unique insight into methods of cultivation ranging from irrigation to weed control, with a comprehensive look at the use of such tools and techniques throughout history.

A formidable and vast subject, Huxley does a good job of looking at a broad range of cultures and subjects, within the context of the "history of gardening." However, since it was written more than 20 years ago, Huxley also has managed to present his case from an era gone by: from the 1970s, the days when population growth and gas shortages necessitated smaller gardens and a renewed reliance on "community plots" and vegetable gardens. But mostly the book is dedicated to the evolution of gardening throughout history, and it remains interestingly relevant to gardening today.

The book is half what it says: an illustrated history. It is in fact a compilation of prose that addresses certain technologies, such as the evolution of irrigation methods, then contrasts them over a period of thousands of years. That in turn is supplemented by a collection of photographs and art, compiled by Maurice Michael and reprinted here in black and white.

From the plans for the St. Gall monastery and its "physic garden," dated 820 A.D., to a London rooftop in the recent 20th century, the use of art to explain antiquated methodology is particularly helpful. But Huxley also relies on the work of his predecessors, noted writers who range from Virgil to Emerson, to provide the background and sentiment of gardening throughout the centuries. When the modern gardener may have tired of learning about the latest trends and techniques, he or she will be fascinated to learn that many fundamentals of gardening today date back to the ancient civilizations and the gardens of Rome, Egypt and Persia.

According to Huxley, the earliest garden cultivators were believed to have lived around Jericho in Palestine in 8,000 B.C. Such history is interesting not only because Huxley jumps around from century to century, but also because he compares a wide variety of cultures (Roman, Greek, English, Dutch) in looking at the evolution of gardening.

A chapter-by-chapter account leads the reader through the evolution of techniques of lawn care, gardening under cover and other topics, with a comprehensive look at essential operations and the development of garden tools. It is obvious that Huxley looks upon these times past with some longing. "In recalling primitive beginnings of cultivation, one is reminded of man's constant instinctive urge to have plants around him," Huxley writes. "Our gardens are echoes of the primeval green world in which our ancestors lived and evolved, a world which  we are all too busy destroying today."

In one of the many attributions featured in this book, Sir Francis Bacon, more than three centuries ago, said gardening is "the purest of human pleasures." He said it offered a "refreshment to the spirits of man." But it is the craft of gardening on which this book primarily focuses. "Gardeners are first of all artisans, only secondarily artists," notes Huxley.

In the newly added foreword, Charles Elliott explains that this historical volume "has less to do with theory than with things." "An Illustrated History" deals with the tools, techniques, devices, procedures and "all the paraphernalia that gardeners have invented, improved, employed successfully or otherwise ... over the centuries," Elliott explains.

The development of tools alone covers a wide breadth of topics, including, for example: planting beds, containers, hedges, fences, methods of sowing and planting, controlling pests, watering, feeding, training, forcing and protecting.

The artwork featured spans decades - as well as countries - but most date from the periods concerned. Many have not been published in years. And only in a few cases does Huxley include photographs or drawings of tools or devices that are still in use today. "The illustrations are a very important part of this book, and much time has been spent in searching for them," he explains.

Huxley also has made a point to use original quotes–and their original spellings. A Providence, Rhode Island, land grant dated 1681, for example, reads, "The northwestern Corner being bounded with a pine Tree... the Northeasterne Corner Bounding with an old Walnutt stumpe... the South Westerne Corner with a Chestnutt Tree." These attributions, Huxley notes, "may seem quaint." But such honest use of words is also refreshing and direct, and that's "all too seldom (seen) today," he adds. In many cases, the origin of the quotes is also historically significant.

While garden writers have penned their words in abundance during the last few centuries, that wasn't always the case. In some ancient civilizations, such writers were far and few between, or, like the Romans Columella and Pliny, were "virtually unique," says Huxley.

In the course of his study, Huxley also found it interesting that many cultures developed similar kinds of garden implements about the same periods, without having any connection or at all knowing what was happening in other parts of the world. He also felt it interesting that certain techniques, first developed out of practical necessity, later became full-fledged art forms in and of themselves. The basic plant bed is one such example.

Originally designed as a way to prevent stepping on plants, the technique developed into "pure design" and later, with the aid of improvements such as irrigation, led to the evolution of ornamental fountains, spouts, basins and more. Gardening as we know it has, of course, long since moved beyond the basic necessity of growing food. Throughout the years, people have been attracted to the earth and plants for reasons relating to leisure, diversion and decoration.

While looking at the past, Huxley also strives for modernity in his prose. In talking about ancient methods, he compares them to modern developments and the use of such techniques today. After all, he notes, "history only stopped yesterday." As with art, he sparingly incorporates references to modern equipment, stressing that it is in fact "the forgotten past which (most) fascinates."

Huxley died in 1992 at the age of 72. A member of Britain's intellectual aristocracy, he was related to Darwin supporter T.H. Huxley, zoologist Sir Julian Huxley, and novelist Aldous Huxley. In 1949, he joined the staff of the weekly magazine, "Amateur Gardening." After that, his list of accomplishments is quite extensive: Throughout the years, he worked as editor, writer, lecturer, photographer, tour leader and more. He wrote nearly 40 books on the topic of plants, and was editor of the authoritative Royal Horticultural Society's "Dictionary of Gardening - the Illustrated History."

Of Huxley's talent for the historic, Elliott notes, "The combination of... pictures and Huxley's magpie taste for the odd fact will fascinate anyone who has ever pruned a rose or hoed a row of beans. Although there are plenty of bad or failed horticultural notions included along the way, Huxley makes plain that there's no call for us to feel superior to our predecessors."

Even the thoughtful gardener today, Elliott adds, "might strike an idea or two worth trying again today, even though it may be a couple of hundred–or thousand–years old. After all, we've still got caterpillars, if not Arcadian asses." In the end, Huxley stresses that gardening is a devotion which brings happiness to many. "Without green and flowering plants for pleasure as much as food, the world would be a much poorer place," he says.

The Pleasure Garden: An Illustrated History of British Gardening
Scott-James, Anne; Lancaster, Osbert (illustrator)

From Roman peristyle to 20th century patio, Anne Scott-James conducts us through 2000 years of the English garden; to linger happily in simple enclosed courtyards of medieval days, and the formal showpieces of Jacobean England, and, later, to wander through sweeping, moody landscapes of the 18th century.

We learn of each age's distinguished botanists, designers, and architects who, together with contemporary social conditions and sheer fad and fashion, shaped these bowers of delight.


The Italian Renaissance inspired a revolution in private gardening. Renaissance private gardens were full of scenes from ancient mythology and other learned allusions. Water during this time was especially symbolic: it was associated with fertility and the abundance of nature.
The first public gardens were built by the Spanish Crown in the 16th century, in Europe and the Americas.

Garden à la française
The Garden à la française, or Baroque French gardens, in the tradition of André Le Nôtre.
The French Classical garden style, or Garden à la française, climaxed during the reign of Louis XIV of France (1638–1715) and his head gardener of Gardens of Versailles, André Le Nôtre (1613–1700). The inspiration for these gardens initially came from the Italian Renaissance garden of the 14th and 15th centuries and ideas of French philosopher René Descartes (1576–1650). At this time the French opened the garden up to enormous proportions compared to their Italian predecessor. Their gardens epitomize monarch and 'man' dominating and manipulating nature to show his authority, wealth, and power.

Renée Descartes, the founder of analytical geometry, believed that the natural world was objectively measurable and that space is infinitely divisible. His belief that "all movement is a straight line therefore space is a universal grid of mathematical coordinates and everything can be located on its infinitely extendable planes" gave us Cartesian mathematics. Through the classical French gardens this coordinate system and philosophy is now given a physical and visual representation.

This French formal and axial garden style placed the house centrally on an enormous and mainly flat property of land. A large central axis that gets narrower further from the main house, forces the viewer's perspective to the horizon line, making the property look even larger. The viewer is to see the property as a cohesive whole but at the same time is unable to see all the components of the garden. One is to be led through a logical progression or story and be surprised by elements that aren’t visible until approached. There is an allegorical story referring to the owner through statues and water features which have mythological references. There are small, almost imperceptible grade changes that help conceal the gardens surprises as well as elongate the gardens views.

These grand gardens have organized spaces meant to be elaborate stages for entertaining the court and guests with plays, concerts and fireworks displays. The following list of garden features were used:
The renaissance style gardens at Chateau Villandry
Cul de sac
Grottos with rocaille
Parterre de broderie
Patte d'oie (Goose foot)
Tapis Vert

Mediterranean Gardens
Due to being an early hub for Western society and being used for centuries, Mediterranean soil was fragile, and one could think of the region’s landscape culture to be a conflict between fruitfulness and frugality. The area consisted largely of small-scale agricultural plots. Later, following World War II, Mediterranean immigrants brought this agricultural style to Canada, where fruit trees and vegetables in the backyard became common.

Anglo-Dutch formal gardens
Picturesque and English Landscape gardens

Forested areas played a number of roles for the British in the Middle Ages, and one of those roles was to produce game for the gentry. Lords of valuable land were expected to provide a bounty of animals for hunting during royal visits. Despite being in natural locations, forested manor homes could symbolize status, wealth and power if they appeared to have all amenities. After the Industrial Revolution, Britain’s forest industry shrank until it no longer existed. In response, the Garden City Movement brought urban planning into industrialized areas in the early 20th century to offset negative industrial effects such as pollution.

There were several traditions that influenced English gardening in the 18th century, the first of which was to plant woods around homes. By the mid-17th century, coppice planting became consistent and was considered visually and aesthetically pleasing. Whereas forested areas were more useful for hunting purposes in Britain during the Middle Ages, 18th century patterns demonstrate a further deviation in gardening approach from practicality toward design meant to please the senses.

Likewise, English pleasure grounds were influenced by medieval groves, some of which were still in existence in 18th century Britain. This influence manifest in the form of shrubbery, sometimes organized in mazes or maze-like formations. And though also ancient, shredding became a common characteristic of these early gardens, as the method enabled light to enter the understory. Shredding was used to make garden groves, which ideally included an orchard with fruit trees, fragrant herbs and flowers, and moss-covered pathways.

The picturesque garden style emerged in England in the 18th century, one of the growing currents of the larger Romantic movement. Garden designers like William Kent and Capability Brown emulated the allegorical landscape paintings of European artists, especially Claude Lorraine, Poussin and Salvator Rosa. The manicured hills, lakes and trees dotted with allegorical temples were sculpted into the land.

By the 1790s there was a reaction against these stereotypical compositions; a number of thinkers began to promote the idea of picturesque gardens. The leader of the movement was landscape theorist William Gilpin, an accomplished artist known for his realistic depictions of Nature. He preferred the natural landscape over the manicured and urged designers to respond to the topography of a given site. He also noted that while classical beauty was associated with the smooth and neat, picturesque beauty had a wilder, untamed quality. The picturesque style also incorporated architectural follies—castles, Gothic ruins, rustic cottages—built to add interest and depth to the landscape

Controversy between the picturesque school and proponents of the more manicured garden raged well into the 19th century. Landscape designer Humphrey Repton supported Gilpin's ideas, particularly that of the garden harmonizing with surrounding landforms. He was attacked in the press by two rival theorists, Richard Payne Knight and Uvedale Price. Repton countered by highlighting the differences between painting and landscape gardening. Unlike a painting, the viewer moves through a garden, constantly shifting viewpoints.

The French landscape garden, also called the jardin anglais or jardin pittoresque, was influenced by contemporary English gardens. Rococo features like Turkish tents and Chinese bridges are prevalent in French gardens in the 18th century. The French Picturesque garden style falls into two categories: those that were staged, almost like theatrical scenery, usually rustic and exotic, called jardin anglo-chinois, and those filled with pastoral romance and bucolic sentiment, influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The former style is represented by the Désert de Retz and Parc Monceau, the latter by the Moulin Jolie.

The rusticity found in French Picturesque gardens is also derived from an admiration of Dutch 17th century landscape painting and works of French 18th century artists Claude-Henri Watelet, François Boucher and Hubert Robert.

English gardens: the common name in the English speaking world, of interpretations, derivations, and revivals in the style of the original Landscape Garden examples.

'Gardenesque' gardens
The 'Gardenesque' style of English garden design evolved during the 1820s from Humphry Repton's Picturesque or 'Mixed' style, largely under the impetus of J. C. Loudon, who invented the term.

In a Gardenesque plan, all the trees, shrubs and other plants are positioned and managed in such a way that the character of each plant can be displayed to its full potential. With the spread of botany as a suitable avocation for the enlightened, the Gardenesque tended to emphasize botanical curiosities and a collector's approach. New plant material that would have seemed bizarre and alien in earlier gardening found settings: Pampas grass from Argentina and Monkey-puzzle trees. Winding paths linked scattered plantings. The Gardenesque approach involved the creation of small-scale landscapes, dotted with features and vignettes, to promote beauty of detail, variety and mystery, sometimes to the detriment of coherence. Artificial mounds helped to stage groupings of shrubs, and island beds became prominent features.

The books of William Robinson describing his own "wild" gardening at Gravetye Manor in Sussex, and the sentimental picture of a rosy, idealized "cottage garden" of the kind pictured by Kate Greenaway, which had scarcely existed historically, both influenced the development of the mixed herbaceous borders that were advocated by Gertrude Jekyll at Munstead Wood in Surrey from the 1890s. Her plantings, which mixed shrubs with perennial and annual plants and bulbs in deep beds within more formal structures of terraces and stairs designed by Edwin Lutyens, set the model for high-style, high-maintenance gardening until the Second World War. Vita Sackville-West's garden at Sissinghurst Castle, Kent is the most famous and influential garden of this last blossoming of romantic style, publicized by the gardener's own gardening column in The Observer. The trend continued in the gardening of Margery Fish at East Lambrook Manor. In the last quarter of the 20th century, less structured Wildlife gardening emphasized the ecological framework of similar gardens using native plants. A leading proponent in the United States was the landscape architect Jens Jensen. He designed city and regional parks, and private estates, with a honed aesthetic of art and nature.

In the 20th century, modern design for gardens became important as architects began to design buildings and residences with an eye toward innovation and streamlining the formal Beaux-Arts and derivative early revival styles, removing unnecessary references and embellishment. Garden design, inspired by modern architecture, naturally followed in the same philosophy of "form following function". Thus concerning the many philosophies of plant maturity. In post-war United States people's residences and domestic lives became more outdoor oriented, especially in the western states as promoted by 'Sunset Magazine', with the backyard often becoming an outdoor room.

Frank Lloyd Wright demonstrated his interpretation for the modern garden by designing homes in complete harmony with natural surroundings. Taliesin and Fallingwater are both examples of careful placement of architecture in nature so the relationship between the residence and surroundings become seamless. His son Lloyd Wright trained in architecture and landscape architecture in the Olmsted Brothers office, with his father, and with architect Irving Gill. He practiced an innovative organic integration of structure and landscape in his works.

Subsequently Garrett Eckbo, James Rose, and Dan Kiley - known as the "bad boys of Harvard", met while studying traditional landscape architecture became notable pioneers in the design of modern gardens. As Harvard embraced modern design in their school of architecture, these designers wanted to interpret and incorporate those new ideas in landscape design. They became interested in developing functional space for outdoor living with designs echoing natural surroundings. Modern gardens feature a fresh mix of curved and architectonic designs and many include abstract art in geometrics and sculpture. Spaces are defined with the thoughtful placement of trees and plantings. Thomas Church work in California was influential through his books and other publications. In Sonoma County, California his 1948 Donnell garden's swimming Pool, kidney-shaped with an abstract sculpture within it, became an icon of modern outdoor living.

In Mexico Luis Barragán explored a synthesis of International style modernism with native Mexican tradition. in private estates and residential development projects such as Jardines del Pedregal (English: Rocky Gardens) and the San Cristobal 'Los Clubes' Estates in Mexico City. In civic design the Torres de Satélite are urban sculptures of substantial dimensions in Naucalpan, Mexico. His house, studio, and gardens, built in 1948 in Mexico City, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.

Roberto Burle Marx is accredited with having introduced modernist landscape architecture to Brazil. He was known as a modern nature artist and a public urban space designer. He was landscape architect (as well as a botanist, painter, print maker, ecologist, naturalist, artist, and musician) who designed of parks and gardens in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and in the United States in Florida. He worked with the architects Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer on the landscape design for some of the prominent modernist government buildings in Brazil's capitol Brasília.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

The Panama Hat.

A Panama hat (toquilla straw hat) is a traditional brimmed straw hat of Ecuadorian origin. Traditionally, hats were made from the plaited leaves of the Carludovica palmata plant, known locally as the toquilla palm or jipijapa palm, although it is a palm-like plant rather than a true palm.

Panama hats are light-colored, lightweight, and breathable, and often worn as accessories to summer-weight suits, such as those made of linen or silk. Beginning around the turn of the 20th century, panamas began to be associated with the seaside and tropical locales.

The art of weaving the traditional Ecuadorian toquilla hat was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists on 6 December 2012. Panama hat is an Intangible Cultural Heritage, a term used to define practices, traditions, knowledge and skills communities pass down from generation to generation as part of their cultural heritage.
Beginning in the early to mid-1600’s hat weaving evolved as a cottage industry all along the Ecuadorian coast. Hat weaving and wearing grew steadily in Ecuador through the 17th and 18th centuries. Even then, the best quality hats were being made in what is now the province of Manabí. The finest was presented to the great French dandy, Napoleon III. From that time on, the "toquilla" has reigned supreme over the crowed heads of Europe. Straw hats woven in Ecuador, like many other 19th and early 20th century South American goods, were shipped first to the Isthmus of Panama before sailing for their destinations in Asia, the rest of the Americas and Europe, subsequently acquiring a name that reflected their point of international sale, "Panama hats", rather than their place of domestic origin. The term was being used by at least 1834.

The popularity of the hats was increased in the mid-nineteenth century by the miners of the California Gold Rush, who frequently traveled to California via the Isthmus of Panama.
In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt of the United States visited the construction site of the Panama Canal, and was photographed wearing a Panama hat, which further increased the hats' popularity. The hats were later worn by many early-twentieth century film stars during films.

The two main processes in the creation of a Panama hat are weaving and blocking. Hats are commercially graded with numeric degrees to indicate quality, but these vary by seller. The rarest and most expensive hats can have as many as 1600–2500 weaves per square inch. These hats are known as Montecristis, after the town of Montecristi, where they are produced. The Montecristi Foundation has established a grading system based on a figure called the Montecristi Cuenta, calculated by measuring the horizontal and vertical rows of weave per inch.

A "superfino" Panama hat can, according to popular rumor, hold water, and when rolled for storage, pass through a wedding ring.

Although the Panama hat continues to provide a livelihood for thousands of Ecuadorians, fewer than a dozen weavers capable of making the finest "Montecristi superfinos" remain. Production in Ecuador is dwindling, due to economic problems in Ecuador and competition from Chinese hat producers.

The Panama Hat: A Legend, a Lifestyle

Authentic Panama hats have a rich and fascinating history. As unique as the artisans who create these hand-woven, stylish hats, each Panama hat combines natural resources of Ecuador with a long tradition of South American culture.
Most people don’t know that the Panama hat actually originated in Ecuador, not Panama, as the name suggests.
In the 16th century when Spaniards first arrived in South America, they found native people wearing head coverings made of straw from the carludovica palmata plant. Spaniards encouraged locals to produce Spanish-influenced hats and, over time, these handmade straw toquilla hats evolved into the brimmed straw hats known today as Panama hats.
But it wasn’t until the 1800s that these Ecuadorian-crafted hats made their way to Panama. Workers on the Panama Canal wore these straw hats to protect them from the hot sun and heat, while the tightly woven hat could double as a bucket to hold water. At the same time, travelers and merchants began purchasing the hats at Panamanian ports and the “Panama” hats began to make their way across the world. The Panama hat first marked its place in history when it was showcased at the at the World Fair in Paris in the mid-1800s, receiving worldwide attention and becoming the defining fashion accessory for the elite.
Today, the legendary genuine Panama hat continues to be made of toquilla palm, and the very finest Panama hats are hand-crafted by artisans in the small town of Montecristi, Ecuador. Each hat is unique and can take from one to six months for a true master weaver to complete, adding to the Panama hat’s mystique and universal appeal.
With its long history, the traditional art of hand-weaving toquilla hats has been passed down for generations and continues to receive world attention. UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recently recognized the Ecuadorian art of weaving a genuine Panama hat as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, a term used to define practices, traditions, knowledge and skills communities pass down from generation to generation as part of their cultural heritage.
For years, Panama hats have been worn by trendsetters worldwide such as notable world leaders Winston Churchill and Nikita Khrushchev, European royalty, international celebrities, and U.S. Presidents such as Harry Truman and Theodore Roosevelt – who appeared in a New York Times photo wearing a Panama hat on a visit to the Panama Canal construction site in 1906. Panama hats are as much a legend as the extraordinary men and women who have donned them to make them popular.
The Panama hat remains at the forefront of fashion today worn by numerous world figures, movie actors, celebrities, intellectuals, writers, painters, socialites, and others all over the world.