Wells Voice Article May 2023

Picture: a drawing once published in The Gardener's Magazine, 1832, of a man using the first lawnmower, patented by Edwin Beard Budding and sold for £8,000 in today's money.

The jobbing gardener 'fiddles away his employment's time and his own earnings in the low enjoyment of beer.' Such was the opinion of the Victorian writer and horticulturalist Shirley Hibberd. In those days there was a fixed hierarchy of class and employment positions extending into the gardens themselves and social attitudes with it. So, what about the garden owners? 'Rich people,' according to Mrs Loftie in her Social Twitters of 1879, ' know nothing about flowers, and can only judge of the merits of their pleasure ground by the length of their bills and the number of men they keep employed.'

There is clearly an intriguing story here and details to be filled in and we are delighted to welcome Dr Fancis Burroughes to Wells at our next meeting. The title of his talk is: 'A Victorian Head Gardener.'  His father started his career as a gardener's boy on large estate just before the outbreak of the First World War. The Victorian era was still in evidence in the way things were done and Dr Burroughes is in a position to give us a fascinating picture of life in an early twentieth century garden.

We meet on Thursday 11th May in Wells Town Hall at 7.30pm. The evening is open to all and everyone is welcome. There will be refreshments available. Visitors £3, members £1.