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Jane's "Chickens Plus" Tour in London
by Jane Gilbertsen

Dear Methow Gardener, I am writing to you from a flat in London. I am on my way the the United Kingdom Poultry Show. Apparently, the British are simply mad for chickens and the like. I expect to see some 5,000 birds. Probably 4,000 more than I can stand but I hope to learn a lot from the show, the lectures and the others in the group.

Jane with chickenWhile waiting for the tour to start here in London I visited the newly remodeled Garden Museum located in the churchyard of St Mary at Lambeth. The church was saved from demolition when it was re-learned that the churchyard held the tombs of the Tradescants, a father-son team of 17th Century plant hunters. (We enjoy such rich choices for our gardens largely from the knowledgeable and dedicated plant hunters of the past, many of which were British.) Also entombed in the churchyard is Captain Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty fame. He is described on the tomb as "beloved" but I suppose it depends on your point of view. Anyway, the museum is small but lovely.

The featured show was called "Going Dutch". The gardens and careers of two contemporary designers were shown and is was demonstrated how they have impacted British gardens. In fact, one of the men, Piet Oudolf, has visited Seattle and brought back to Holland a "Giant Yarrow" that I brought to the Methow from Cornwall. I had given a start to a Bothell garden he visited and he had never seen the plant before and he uses many N. American prairie plants in his wild perennial plantings. The yarrow is considered a heritage garden plant and an old market flower in England. It is big and coarse and apparently cheaply filled up bouquets for sale in the London flower market. Handy I suppose.

One of the interesting points, to me, at least, is that our native plants from America were "hunted" and brought back to the old countries and sometimes improved and developed before they came back again across the sea. History enriches the experience of planning and enjoying your own garden. We still have modern plant hunters like our own Dan Hinkley from the westside.

Hope you have done your fall prep for winter. Do remember the mouse guards for the base of your small tree trunks. For those hoping to grow up some evergreens - fence! There is no way to avoid the hassle and keep your small trees uneaten. It is supposed to be a bad winter and the creatures will be hungry!

Take care, Jane
Nov 18, 2010