The funniest garden book in literature, Beverley Nichols’ Down The Garden Path(1932), is the inspiration for this evening entertainment – a compendium of witty and idiosyncratic writing about gardens and plants from the 1920s and 30s. This was a period when authors like Jason Hill, Evelyn Dunbar, E.A.Bowles, Muriel Stuart, Clare Leighton and Edward Hyams were writing about plants from a position of extreme connoisseurship, a style which Christopher Lloyd rekindled almost single-handedly in the post-war period. It was the time of Cedric Morris, John Nash and the artists of Benton End – the topic of the Museum’s current exhibition. And there will be a few surprises, too – does everyone know that Saki wrote a garden story, or that Edith Sitwell was obsessed with flowers?
As for the two of us, we have been friends for more than 20 years and share thespianic tendencies – in Tim’s case, as a wannabe actor and comedian who performed in more than 20 plays at Oxford; in Tony’s case as a successful actor who has gone on to become an even more successful garden designer. Together we hope to be able to evoke some of the wit and style of this unmatchably glamorous time.
Hear Tim Richardson and Anthony Noel in conversation at the Garden Museum Literary Festival on Saturday 7th July.
The Garden Museum Literary Festival
Begun in 2013, the world’s only festival dedicated to writing inspired by gardens has travelled from garden to garden across Britain, but this year – for one time only – will take place in London, to celebrate the reopened Museum and our new gardens and café. Chefs from our lauded new restaurant will also be creating a special menu for the weekend for guests to savour.
As the Festival will be in London, we are taking what makes its green spaces unique as our overarching theme this year.
Tim Richardson is a garden writer, critic and historian who writes regularly for the Daily Telegraph and Gardens Illustrated and is the author of a number of books on garden and landscape topics. A collection of his journalism entitled You Should Have Been Here Last Week was published last year.
Anthony Noel has had a remarkable life, thanks to gardening – having tea with his beautiful mother and Vita Sackville-West at Sissinghurst in 1959; acting in Hi-de-Hi!, with the Two Ronnies; opposite Leslie Philips at the Criterion and being in three consecutive plays and pantomime with Julian Fellowes. He has also created gardens for rock stars such as Neil Tenant of The Pet Shop Boys, the playwright, Nell Dunn; and interviewed, Debo, Duchess of Devonshire at Chatsworth in her chic private drawing-room, discussing, among other things, ‘The King’ Elvis Presley.