the friend online
12 December 2008

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There's a Quaker at the bottom of the garden

  • Gardening correspondents got rather over-excited recently about a tropical garden languishing under overgrown foliage at a horticultural gem in Cornwall
  • An intriguing mystery evolved as astonished gardeners unearthed a secret ‘tropical forest’ at the Trebah gardens in Falmouth, where balmy weather has often produced exotic plant life
  • Even more exotic is the reputed behaviour of Charles Fox, the Quaker architect of this hidden jungle
  • Fox, who planted it all in the mid-nineteenth century, had an endearing habit, according to the gardening correspondents, of assessing the height to which newly planted saplings would grow and their appropriate placing by sending a small boy up an erected scaffold with a white flag
  • Fox sat in an attic watching, with megaphone and telescope, to shout his orders
  • Typical eccentric Victorian gentleman gardener we feel


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    Venon39, 12 December
    Charles Fox travelled in Europe and the Middle East but not beyond, as far as I can see. Have you any information about him collecting his own seeds, please? It seems more likely that he was one of a group of wealthy garden owners who clubbed together to share the expense of a professional plant-hunter and shared the seeds which were collected.

    He merits a biography in the _Oxford Dictionary of National Biography_ and a Wikipedia article:

    As a Quaker, he was a Yearly Meeting Friend and served on the committee that tried to resolve "The Manchester Difficulty", as described by T.C.Kennedy _British Quakerism . . ._.

    His neice and nephew, Caroline and Barclay Fox frequently mention him and "Aunt Charles" in their journals, which were published in the 1970s and Barclay's republished in 2008. Both are most interesting books if you enjoy the 19th Century.

    Vernon White
    Cornwall Srea Quaker Meeting


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