Ph. Luigi Fieni. Natural garden in the Green Passion space “La Topitta” at Orticolario 2018
“Subordinating garden to botany was the most serious sin ever committed against artistic gardening”
This is what William Robinson thought, the Irishman who loved plants and hated botany (and glass).
A young and revengeful gardener
The hatred of everything that sounded artificial in gardening and his definitive abandonment of Ireland were probably generated by an event in his youth.
The impatient apprentice gardener took his revenge on his hypercritical employer, letting frost destroy an important collection of warm greenhouse plants.
We are getting closer and closer to the late Victorian era and …
With the increasingly unsustainable maintenance costs of greenhouses that led to the return of outdoor gardening and with the Royal Horticoltural Society, which anticipated a new public interested in the cultivation of rustic and semi-rustic plants, Robinson found fertile ground.
If you add his “temper”, his passions and the help from the artist Gertrude Jekyll, William was destined to mark a fundamental step in the garden history.
And so it was.
Robinson and the natural garden
The curiosities and the botanical wonders that excited his contemporaries, the perfumes and the colours of the tropical plants that others adored, enraged him.
The complicated and fancy flower beds triggered the same reaction.
Its flag waved in the natural garden inhabited by rustic and semi-rustic trees, shrubs and perennials that were to be found in great abundance in the “jagged valleys and gorges of western China, under the white peaks of its great mountains”.
So, just towards those lands, the rush to the plants started. Great satisfactions for many amateur seekers, huge profits for professionals and thousands of new genera and species in the gardens of the West.
“I cacciatori di piante” (The Plant Hunters) by Michael Tyler Whittle (DeriveApprodi, 2015)