As a teenager, I stumbled upon the history of the English cottage garden. I was hooked by both the very sight of then and also their rich history and all that this brought, including Helen Allingham's chocolate-box views of tumbledown cottages with flower-filled front gardens. Behind the romance that she portrayed in her art, there was poverty and hard work.
The earliest cottage gardens were practical out of necessity, provided nourishment for poor cottage dwellers. With focus on vegetables and herbs and fruit trees, a beehive and possibly livestock could often be found. Flowers were used to fill space and, gradually became more dominant. They also had a practical use - edible flowers used as a food and fragrant ones used to make pot pouring or were strewn on the floors to combat odours. The traditional cottage garden was usually enclosed, perhaps with a rose-bowered gateway.
Cottager’s plots were small and crammed with plants for maximum productivity. Increased prosperity during the Elizabethan era meant that cottagers could afford to grow more flowers. Some still had functional uses - violets which were strewn on cottage floors as their scent deterred vermin. Other flowers, hollyhocks for example were grown for their beauty and nothing more .
There is nothing pretentious about these cottage gardens.
Cottage Garden Series
Limited Edition Prints
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to photograph a traditional English cottage garden where fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers to decorate the house were grown cheek by jowl. I wanted to record the contents of this garden in line with my passion for the Florilegium. I felt it acknowledged the historical side beautifully.
Each editioned image is carefully printed onto a Baryta/Fibre based silver gelatin photographic paper based upon traditional B&W silver halide technology which has beautiful panchromatic sensitivity. Again this printing process and use of the particular nods gently at then historical base of this series. The Series can be found here.