A Dark History Of British Gardening

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
01Escapism2011103120160807 (BBC7)
20160808 (BBC7)

Jenny Uglow, the biographer and historian whose book 'A Little History of British Gardening' beautifully epitomised the national love of gardens now turns history on its head to consider the less lovely aspects of the British character that blossom in the garden.

In her first essay she looks at our tendency to escape, to bury our heads in the soil, if not the sand, when perhaps we shouldn't.

Through history the garden has been a retreat from the world - at no time more so than during the reign of Charles I who took sanctuary in his garden arcadia, blind to the struggles that would soon overwhelm him and plunge the country into civil war.

Jenny traces this tendency for escapism through the Victorian age and the hippies of the 1960s to the present day.

Jenny Uglow explores the British tendency to escape from problems into the garden.

Jenny Uglow reflects on our garden weaknesses, including the tendency for escapism.

4 Extra Debut. Writer Jenny Uglow reflects on our garden weaknesses, the tendency for escapism from the Victorians to 1960s hippies.

02Snobbery2011110120160814 (BBC7)
20160815 (BBC7)

Garden snobbery has been with us since the medieval queens imported exotic herbs in the 14th century.

Gardens have always been places for a show of wealth and power and, of course, demonstrations of one's good taste and superior class.

Jenny plots the wonderful history of upper-class gardeners trying hard to stay ahead of the lower orders, determined to ape them in the garden.

From French parterres to greenhouses and lawnmowers and choice of rose varieties, she shows that every aspect of gardening was an opportunity for snobbery.

Jenny Uglow explores the connections between gardens and snobbery.

Writer Jenny Uglow reflects on how snobbery has always flourished in the garden.

Writer Jenny Uglow reflects on our garden weaknesses - snobbery has always flourished in the garden.

03Hubris2011110220160821 (BBC7)
20160822 (BBC7)

Jenny Uglow plots the history of hubris in the British garden.

Gardens have always been places where human ambition has been writ large.

The Tudors knew well how to make a spectacular garden that could win favour with the monarch and preferment at court.

They made fountains that flowed with wine, mock castles lit with fireworks and grew wonderful plants from the New World.

Gardeners have wanted to tame nature - to sculpt the landscape in massive schemes like Capability Brown or to scorn Nature completely like the Modernists who thought the only way to live was is houses raised up from the earth.

Historian Jenny Uglow explores at how pride and hubris flourish in our gardens.

Writer Jenny Uglow reflects on our garden weaknesses - how pride and hubris flourish in our gardens.

Writer Jenny Uglow reflects on how pride and hubris flourish in our gardens.

04Dominance2011110320160828 (BBC7)
20160829 (BBC7)

Kill! Kill! isn't a cry you normally hear in the garden...

so begins historian and biographer Jenny Uglow's essay on another dark side of the gardeners' nature - the desire to dominate.

This weakness has led gardeners to turn their potting sheds into places stuffed with toxic mixes and poisons for the killing of weeds and bugs AND for the force feeding of the plants we DO want to keep.

So it has been through history - from the Romans to the present day.

Gardeners, says Jenny, are too fond of keeping their heads down in their own plots to recognise the wider implications of their actions.

Jenny Uglow explores how gardeners have always sought to dominate nature.

Jenny Uglow reflects on how gardeners have always sought to dominate nature.

Writer Jenny Uglow reflects on our garden weaknesses - how gardeners have always sought to dominate nature.

05 LASTXenophobia2011110420160904 (BBC7)
20160905 (BBC7)

The writer and historian Jenny Uglow looks at the ways we have mapped 'Britishness' into garden design - even seeing political freedom expressed in the landscape gardens of the 18th century.

Perhaps none of our national characteristics are played out more obviously in the garden than xenophobia - our mixed and troubled responses to all things foreign.

But excessive romantic nationalism associated with the land can take people in the wrong direction, underpinning intolerance and even fascism.

And gardeners' attitudes to 'invasive' foreign plants can be curiously representative of their views of society more generally!

We are not, says Jenny, in a separate moral universe when we are in the garden, it's as well to remember that!

Jenny Uglow considers gardeners' 'xenophobia'.

Jenny Uglow reflects on how we have mapped 'Britishness' into garden design.

Writer Jenny Uglow reflects on our garden weaknesses - how we have mapped 'Britishness' into garden design.