Monday, February 13, 2023

Thinking of spring and gardening!

 As always at this time of year, I am starting to think about gardening. And so, here I am blogging about garden issues, again.

I recently discovered that, as with most other industries and occupations in Regency Britain, friendly societies and mutual aid societies abounded for the horticultural community. I came first upon the Order of Free Gardeners, begun in Scotland in the mid 1700s. It was set up to resemble the guilds which protected urban professions.

The Order relied heavily on the structure and forms of Freemasonry. Their 'arms' above therefore include the usual square and compass but include a pruning knife. Their object was to support, for a subscription fee, their associates in the gardening trade with insurance, charity, training, and community.

The Order was always more active in Scotland and in the northern counties of England.

Tyne Mercury; Northumberland and Durham and Cumberland Gazette - Tuesday 29 August 1815

 Westmorland Gazette - Saturday 28 August 1824

But the London newspapers also considered their activities noteworthy.

Star (London) - Saturday 28 July 1810

More active in England, it appears, and very numerous were Friendly Florist Societies. 'Florist' did not, at that time, mean retailers of flowers, but rather growers of flowers (though they may have sold them as well). 

Durham Chronicle - Saturday 08 May 1824
Tyne Mercury; Northumberland and Durham and Cumberland Gazette - Tuesday 10 May 1808

These friendly societies were prime presenters of flower shows and displays and bestowed prizes which provide us with the names of these early plant varieties.

Nowadays, horticultural societies abound--I belong to one myself. And they still offer community, instruction and competition. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

'Til next time,


N.B. newspaper articles from the British Newspaper Archive

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