Gardeners are tired of waiting for spring

Since the renewed cold weather is making English gardeners miserable, I recommend making the most of every short sunny interval, as I try to do. Garden ponds should be multi-purpose.

Image courtesy Artem

16 thoughts on “Gardeners are tired of waiting for spring

  1. Christine

    2008 was reported as a year of record ice melt in the Artic.[ ]Artic sea ice melt is reported to be influenced by the extent of seasonal cloud over the land mass.
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    Seems we need to do a lot more satelite gazing….[ ]

  2. Christine

    Apparently so – the North Atantic is being influenced by a negative phase of the Artic Oscillation. The cycle, it is said, is all down to the strength of the upper-atmospheric westerly winds! [ ]

    Of importance for the global warming debate is the following statement:

    “…it is not the existence of record highs or record lows that indicates whether a warming or cooling trend is occurring. Instead, it is the proportion of record highs to record lows that tells you whether things are getting warmer or cooler.”

    Interesting, huh?

  3. Tom Turner Post author

    It has been suggested that God’s sense of humour is revealed by his decision to send icy weather for the Copenhagen shenanigans and warm weather for the Winter Olympics – so maybe the lack of westerly winds was only his way of staging the joke.

  4. Tom Turner Post author

    Very interesting information on the White House Gardens but from a theoretical standpoint I regret that Pierre L’Enfant is described as an architect and engineer – when it is obvious that the primary influence on his plan for Washington DC is the plans of the gardens in France he had known as a boy. If he had described himself as a landscape architect then landscape urbanism could have appeared on the scene at a much earlier date and American cities might have been much better and more enjoyable places than they often are!
    Re naked bathing, I once worked in an American summer camp at which the skinny dip was an annual ritual in which all males were expected to take part. I wonder if fears about child abuse have brought it to an end?

  5. Christine

    The description of L’Enfant as an architect and engineer may be related to his education (at the Royal Aacdemy of the Louvre in Paris) and to his practice (as a military engineer in the Continential army). It seems the Academy preceeded the Beaux Artes School in Paris.

    The influences on L’Enfant’s design for Washington is a very interesting topic. It would be a brave and self-confident architect/landscape architect who today would write to the president/prime minister asking for the commission to design the urban landscape of a city!

    I imagine that naked bathing still occurs with so many natural places to go swimming available. Perhaps it was also the prevailing sense of privacy and seclusion which popularised naked bathing?[ ] Perhaps the early presidents didn’t swim naked as a rule where alligator safety was an issue!

  6. Tom Turner Post author

    Yes – there are very good reasons for describing L’Enfant as an architect and as an engineer. But I would say that he was also a landscape architect and that it was this ‘sector’ of his knowledge which was brought to bear on the Washington DC. Many of the problems with city design have arisen when roads etc have been laid out people who only knew about engineering.
    Re writing to presidents, I think it has become a job for professional institutes and I much regret that they have been ‘re-focussing’ themselves as trade associations and trade unions. They are important roles but so are the tasks of lobbying and acting as think tanks.
    Re swimming pools – I have come to dislike them. Swimming for me is more like exploring than taking exercise.

  7. Christine

    Perhaps whether L’Enfant was an architect or not is a matter of contention. In ‘Worthy of a nation: Washington DC from L’Enfant to the National Capital’ L’Enfant is called an artist and military engineer with “limited architectural training.” (p9,14) Perhaps someone knowledgeable on architectural education in France could say definitively how limited L’Enfant training as an architect was?

    Undoubtedly the importance of the Washington plan can be attributed his achievements in landscape:
    “The plan reflect L’Enfant’s careful integration of the physical form of the Potomac River site with his first hand understanding of the new nation’s aspirations.” It is said that he “boldly restructured nature, especially water, in the fashion of Andre Le Notre.” (p13)

    There is conjecture that his plan for Washington is influenced by Laugier’s ‘Essai sur l’Architecture’ (1753) “with its emphasis on urban squares and the straight, wide avenues explicitly derived from the hunting rides of royal forests” or the designs of Pierre Patte’s Monuments (1765) expressing a design philosophy based on “the development of important squares connected by wide avenues or circles from which avenues radiated.” (p14)

  8. Tom Turner Post author

    The disappointing aspect of L’Enfant’s plan is that it had so little influence the layout of other cities. I suppose the yanks wanted to do things as quickly as possible and as fairly as possible and as cheaply as possible. For republican sceptics, it is a highly regrettable fact that cities are best planned under the influence of those relics of bygone ages: kings and prelates. Given that we want better cities and can’t very well go backwards, I think we need City Parents (ie city fathers + city mothers) who are willing and able to take much wider and longer views than can be done by Boils on the Neck (Solzhenitsyn’s technical term for professional politicians).

  9. Christine

    Is this a reference to Prince Charles’ comments on carbuncles? [ a_speech_by_hrh_the_prince_of_wales_at_the_150th_anniversary_1876801621.html ] Or perhaps of an expectation that we can only expect carbuncles (adjective) from Carbuncles (noun)?

    It is interesting that when L’Enfant’s plan was revisited again in 1901 the dialogue surrounding its implementation was one of culture and class:

    “It was not only the nation for which the Senate Park Commission was attempting to attain social and cultural cache. As members of a growing professional class, which included professors, writers (such as Henry Adams, William and Henry James), architects, and civil servants, they were attempting to define their roles in this new category in a modern society. As social roles changed, government grew, and America underwent the last death pangs of an agricultural society, this new class of professionals sought recognition and power. The Senate Park Commission, whether consciously or not, identified themselves with the power of planning the national capital, using the Beaux-Arts style to indicate that they (and America) had as much class as the Europeans, and just as much right to be a part of the upper echelons of American society.”

    In which it seems the terms culture and class are almost used in a way which is interchangeable.
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