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Diggin' It

The changing face of gardening

The changing face of gardening – from Queen Elizabeth's garden parties to lettuce as the hit of a flower show to a wild garden in New York City.

By / July 9, 2008



Gardening is changing rapidly, but not everywhere. And maybe that isn't a bad thing – we have some traditional practices to let us see where we've been, coupled with plenty of innovation to show us a better way into a green future.

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Yesterday was the first garden party of the summer for Queen Elizabeth. These events date back at least till the mid-1800s.

The 2008 version wasn’t just a few scones and a cuppa with friends, but 8,000 invitees, all of whom would love to have chatted with the queen personally but recognized that few would be able to.

Everyone got to wander the 42-acre grounds of Buckingham Palace, admiring the profusion of plants, walking some of the 2-1/2 miles of gravel paths, and downing a few cups of tea (28,000 are usually served), a slice or two of cake (20,000), and a couple of sandwiches (20,000).

I’ve always been fascinated by the hats women wear to the queen’s garden parties and even wrote a column about it once, Shrinking violets blossom under hats.

A garden party with the queen is the kind of event that’s fun to dream about. if you're a gardener and an Anglophile. I'd be fascinated to see the mulberry tree that dates back to the 1600s.

And, of course, I'd really like to have eight to 11 gardeners doing my bidding! That's a tradition I could grow used to (providing I had Queen Elizabeth's exchequer, of course)!

The new wave is represented by New York City's latest – and, according to an architecture critic – quirkiest park.

News of an abandoned area turned into a flower-filled garden at a time of tight city budgets makes you want to cheer. High Line Park, along abandoned railway tracks, won’t open to the public till fall, but is expected to mimic a wild area.

Piet Oudolf, the famous Dutch garden designer (and author of several gardening books popular in the US and elsewhere) chose some of the plants that will grow there.

I'm already making plans to get down to Manhattan and visit after the park opens.

Back in England and following up on our recent post about the Brits following America’s lead in ornamental vegetable gardening, the surprise hit of the Hampton Court Show by the Royal Horticultural Society was, according to the London Timeslettuce.

All those gorgeous flowers, and veggies stole the show!

I love the idea of communities building a park where wildflowers had sprouted on their own. And I'm a big proponent of edible landscaping. But there's a part of me that would also hate to see the queen's garden parties vanish. What's the saying? Make new friends but keep the old.

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