Happy 5th Birthday World War Zoo Gardens Newquay Zoo

August 17, 2014

Happy Birthday! Late August is the 5th anniversary of our World War Zoo Gardens wartime garden project at Newquay Zoo. It’s also our 5 year #Twitterversary  for @worldwarzoo1939

What better birthday card than a plain wartime birthday card, which jokes about rationing everything ... (Image Source: Author's collection, World War Zoo Gardens)

What better birthday card than a plain wartime birthday card, which jokes about rationing everything … (Image Source: Author’s collection, World War Zoo Gardens)

Our aim over five years since marking the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of war in 2009 has been very practical  to grow small unusual fresh food treats for our animals, but it’s also been about research and living history,  recreating the sort of allotment that grew up in zoos, botanic gardens, back gardens, railway sidings, anywhere there was land to grow ‘Dig for Victory’ vegetables to provide self-sufficiency from U-boat blockades of food,  when food much as now was mostly imported …

Inside the wartime birthday card a suitably foody rationing joke (Image: author's collection, World War Zoo gardens collection)

Inside the wartime birthday card a suitably food rationing joke (Image: author’s collection, World War Zoo gardens collection)

Now we have reached the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2 in September 1939, an event somewhat overshadowed by the #WW1 centenary www.1914.org.

World War Zoo gardens graphic sign Summer 2011

World War Zoo gardens graphic sign Summer 2011

With the WW1 centenary we have been looking at what effect resource shortages of food, fuel, staff and building materials had on zoos and botanic gardens in wartime; a summary of blog posts and other WW1 related events can be found here.

World War Zoo Garden, Summer 2011: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

World War Zoo Garden, Summer 2011: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

There is a great little photo summary of the World War Zoo gardens project here on the BIAZA zoo website from 2011, when Newquay Zoo won its first ever zoo gardens and planting award.

Mark Norris in costume as the zoo's ARP Instructor and volunteer Ken our zoo 'Home Guard' delivering a World War Zoo Gardens schools workshop, Newquay Zoo (Photo: Lorraine Reid / Newquay Zoo)

Mark Norris in costume as the zoo’s ARP Instructor and volunteer Ken our zoo ‘Home Guard’ delivering a World War Zoo Gardens schools workshop, Newquay Zoo (Photo: Lorraine Reid / Newquay Zoo)

We’ve survived snow and ice, very wet summers, very dry summers, saved seeds, produced podcasts as well as peas, fed monkeys with home-grown artichokes and broad beans, had our gnome guards go wandering across Europe … it’s been a very busy five years!

 

Rare 'Yaki' Sulawesi Macaque monkey at Newquay Zoo enjoying fresh broad bean pods, summer 2010. (Picture: Jackie Noble, Newquay Zoo)

Rare ‘Yaki’ Sulawesi Macaque monkey at Newquay Zoo enjoying fresh broad bean pods, summer 2010. (Picture: Jackie Noble, Newquay Zoo)

LDV Gnome guard in his usual allotment spot in our wartime 'Dig For Victory' garden Summer at Newquay Zoo, 2010

LDV Gnome guard in his usual allotment spot in our wartime ‘Dig For Victory’ garden Summer at Newquay Zoo, 2010 before he went wandering around the UK and Europe …

 

Our Gnome Guard on his planned travels, appearing in our wartime display at Trelawney Garden Centre's wildlife gardening weekend, August 2010

Our Gnome Guard on his planned travels, appearing in our wartime display at Trelawney Garden Centre’s wildlife gardening weekend, August 2010

Over the last few years we have been doing schools workshops based on everyday  life in WW2 and what happened in zoos, which you can read about here.

Time for a cup of tea and a chat,  outside our wartime garden exhibition.  Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

Time for a cup of tea and a chat, outside our wartime garden exhibition. Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

One of the highlights of the past 5 years has been chatting to visitors of all ages (and notably once a group of unclad naturists) ‘over the garden fence’ at  Newquay Zoo about everything from memories of food rationing to sustainability, allotments or schools gardens or meeting many people at other events from garden centres, garden societies and 1940s events at places like the National Trust’s Trengwainton Gardens.

Mr Bloom visits the World War Zoo Dig For Victory wartime garden at Newquay Zoo, 2 April 2012 with project manager Mark Norris.

“Who’s That?” Our most famous garden visitor Cbeebies Mr Bloom visits the World War Zoo Dig For Victory wartime garden at Newquay Zoo, 2 April 2012 with project manager Mark Norris. His photo still on display in the garden still gets lots of delighted recognition from younger zoo visitors!

 

This World War Zoo Gardens Blog has now reached over 60,000 visitors worldwide who may never even have visited Newquay Zoo, along with Twitter followers @worldwarzoo1939 as well.

Clays Fertiliser advert from 1940s Britain

Clays Fertiliser advert from 1940s Britain

Thinking about food waste, allotment gardening and energy saving have remained as much a part of modern life (especially throughout the recent recession) as it was in the 1940s. Soon we’ll be blogposting about the current EAZA European Zoo Pole to Pole campaign and ‘Pull the Plug’, looking at how people in the 1940s were encouraged to save energy for the war effort, rather than to tackle climate change and protect polar wildlife.

A small memorial at Newquay Zoo to the many zoo keepers, families and visitors worldwide who have been affected by wartime since 1914 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

A small memorial at Newquay Zoo to the many zoo keepers, families and visitors worldwide who have been affected by wartime since 1914 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

It’s been a great group or team effort from many staff and volunteers at Newquay Zoo to get the allotment site established, maintain it when I was off ill for a year in 2012 (throughout a very wet summer) and  fantastic to establish partnerships with a wide range of people from our wartime sister zoo Paignton Zoo to London Zoo, Kew Gardens and many others. Some of these zoo and gardens staff have now retired or moved on, but as Richard one of our previous gardeners in a past  zoo newsletter wrote: “Every gardener has added something to the Zoo, developing the gardens over time. It feels like a team project where you are working with people you have never met”.

Site staff and keepers lend a hand with sandbags - Lisa from zoo site staff helping out with the World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, December 2009

Site staff and keepers lend a hand with sandbags – Lisa from zoo site staff helping out with the World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, December 2009

Adrian our Operations manager waylaid to lend a hand with the sand(bags) for the World war Zoo keeper's garden! Newquay Zoo, Dec. 2009

Even the odd zoo manager as in wartime would have to pick up a (Cornish!) shovel and get stuck in filling sandbags – Adrian our now retired Operations manager waylaid to lend a hand with the sand(bags) for the World war Zoo keeper’s garden! Newquay Zoo, Dec. 2009. This rocky slope originally an aviary for the Cornish chough became eventually a coati house before its rebuilding in 2010 as the Madagascar Aviary.

 

Scroll back through past blog posts for some of the highlights of our project. Happy reading!

Thanks to everyone for their support, and we look forward to another 5 years of gardening, research and digging around to unearth more fascinating stories of life in wartime zoos and botanic gardens.

Happy gardening!

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo,  August 2014

 

Remembering WW1 in zoos and gardens

August 3, 2014

Although I have spent  the last 5 years as part of the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo researching WW2 and how it created shortages and other challenges for zoos and botanic gardens, I have frequently been asked recently about the effects of WW1 in light of the www.1914.org centenary events now underway.

Here is a summary of our recent WW1 related blog posts that you might find of interest.

William Dexter, ZSL London Zoo keeper killed in WW1  (Photo: Courtesy of Nova Jones, digital clean up Adrian Taylor ZSL)

William Dexter, ZSL London Zoo keeper killed in WW1
(Photo: Courtesy of Nova Jones, digital clean up Adrian Taylor ZSL)

1. The Lost Zoo Keepers and Gardeners of London Zoo WW1

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/remembering-lost-wartime-staff-of-zsl-london-zoo-in-ww1/

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/london-zoos-war-memorial-recent-pictures/

London Zoo plans a WW1 centenary exhibition http://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo/whats-on/the-zoo-at-war

and also a Little Creatures family celebration of regimental mascot Winnipeg or the original Winnie the Pooh being deposited at London Zoo 100 years ago when its Canadian Regiment went off to France.

http://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo/whats-on/little-creatures-family-festival

and material from Mary Evans picture archive:

http://blog.maryevans.com/2013/04/london-zoo-at-war.html

2. Lost Zoo Keepers from Belle Vue Zoo Manchester (and London Zoo) WW1 – updated from 2010/11

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/%e2%80%9clost-in-the-garden-of-the-sons-of-time%e2%80%9d-remembering-the-fallen-zoo-staff-from-wartime-zoos-onremembrance-sunday-and-armistice-day-2010-in-the-wartime-zoo-gardens/

3. National Allotment Week, 4- 10 August 2014 and other ww1 centenary garden links

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/national-allotment-week-4-10-august-2014-in-the-world-war-zoo-garden-at-newquay-zoo/

4. Port Lympne Zoo / Reserve centenary WW1 / WW2 and other WW1 centenary garden links

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/world-war-zoo-gardens-project-spreads-to-other-zoos-and-gardens/

5. Lost Ecologists of WW1 – Linnean Society casualties

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/lost-fellows-the-linnean-society-roll-of-honour-1914-1918/

6. Lost Ecologists of WW1 – The British Ecological Society

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/lost-ecologists-of-the-first-world-war/

7. Mr. Mottershead, WW1 and WW2 at Chester Zoo – “Our Zoo”

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/zoo-do-you-think-you-are-tracking-down-family-history-and-wartime-concrete-at-chester-zoo/

8. Animals in wartime WW1

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/war-horse-war-elephant-war-ferret-the-wartime-role-of-zoo-and-other-animals-from-tommys-ark-and-the-world-war-zoo-gardens/

 

A small selection of WW1 items on display alongside our usual WW2 material, display case, Tropical House, Newquay Zoo.

A small selection of WW1 items on display alongside our usual WW2 material, display case, Tropical House, Newquay Zoo.

Botanic Gardens in wartime WW1

Many Botanic Gardens had a zoological section and similar challenges to zoos in wartime. I wrote a free downloadable  article about this for the BGEN gardens website:  http://bgen.org.uk/resources/free/using-the-garden-ghosts-of-your-wartime-or-historic-past/

1. The Lost Gardeners of Kew Gardens in WW1

Kew has many activities such as tours and an exhibition planned. I will be giving a talk at Kew on 20 October as part of their Kew Guild / KMIS evening talks.

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

2. Lost “Gardeners and Men” WW1 poem from Kew Guild Journal

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/for-king-and-country-fought-and-died-gardeners-and-men/

3. Lost Gardeners – 1914 / 1915 Part 1

A brief  look through the garden journals of the time at the effects of war on gardens, estates and gardeners

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/lost-gardeners-of-world-war-one-1914-and-1915/

4. Garden writer Herbert Cowley, Kew Gardens  and WW1  Dig for Victory schemes

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/dig-for-victory-1917-world-war-1-style-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-and-the-fortunate-herbert-cowley-1885-1967/

5. Finally, a brief look at the home front, rationing, food and farming  in one Cornish village in WW1

http://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/life-in-wartime-devoran-in-world-war-1/

 

Watch this space for further WW1  blogposts:

Several more blog posts are in preparation in my spare zoo and home time for 2014 and 2015:

  • The Whitley family in WW1 and Ww2 who set up our sister zoo Paignton Zoo
  • Gardeners in 1916 onwards using the garden journals now online
  • WW1 in adverts from original magazines
  • Energy saving and salvage initiatives in Ww1 , WW2 and the EAZA Pole to Pole “pull the plug” campaign 2014
  • London Zoo in WW1 and the ‘first Blitz’ of WW1
  • Dublin Zoo,  Irish zoos and gardens in WW1
  • Updates on the Belle Vue Zoo and London Zoo memorial casualty research.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them …”, words from the 1914 poem by Lawrence Binyon familiar from many Remembrance services and written on cliffs at Polzeath (or Portreath – some controversy on this!) near Newquay Zoo, home of the World War Zoo Gardens Project:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/3112708.stm     BBC Cornwall page and plaque pictures.

We would be interested to hear of other gardens and zoo related stories from WW1 – contact us via the comments page!

Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo – World War Zoo Gardens project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digging into Bristol Zoo’s wartime garden past – mystery photograph solved!

July 31, 2014

The mystery garden supplying Bristol Zoo Gardens pictured in The Bristol Post Jan 1946 (Source: Bristol Zoo gardens archive / Bristol Post)

The mystery garden supplying Bristol Zoo Gardens pictured in The Bristol Post Jan 1946 (Source: Bristol Zoo gardens archive / Bristol Post)

I was recently sent an intriguing photo of ‘Jan 1946 Dig for Victory’ or ‘Dig for Plenty’ efforts somewhere in Bristol, connected to feeding the animals, staff and visitors of Bristol Zoo. It had turned up towards the end of  the writing of Alan Ashby, Tim Brown and Christoph Schwitzer’s ‘s excellent recent history of Bristol Zoo gardens as part of their 175th birthday anniversary (available through their webshop.)

The photograph had come to light or not been included as the location was unattributed until after the book was published, despite work by PhD students Sarah-Joy Maddeaus, Andy Flack and John Partridge on the Bristol Zoo staff. This was the case with several other wartime episodes that Alan and I had uncovered after publication.

Did I know where this productive garden was?

Could I find out with help from appeals through Bristol Newspapers, Bristol museums or zoo archives?

The answer turned out to be surprisingly close to home, Alan told me on his recent visit to Newquay Zoo’s wartime garden   with another fellow Bartlett Society for Zoo History research member Rob Vaughan. We were busy looking at Newquay Zoo’s enclosures, old and very new like the new Macaw Flight aviary.

Alan accidentally answered his own question on a trip to Wild Place, Bristol Zoo’s long established outstation on the old Hollyhill Wood or  ‘Hollywood Towers’ estate near Cribbs Causeway motorway interchange at Bristol, which recently opened to the public in summer 2013. (See their Wild Place  facebook page too). You can read about its garden history and tower here and about its development on its Wild Place Wikipedia page

68 years later, the other side of the garden wall today, Wild Place, Bristol, 2014  (Picture: Alan Ashby)

68 years later, the other side of the garden wall today, Wild Place, Bristol, 2014 (Picture: Alan Ashby)

 

Even more surprisingly, Alan found nearby another familiar structure from wartime gardens, what looked like a tool shed but originally the garden’s air raid shelter! The building with the chimneys over the garden wall  is still standing, another object that helped Alan Ashby  place the picture.

What could well be the original air raid shelter, now Wild Place, Bristol, 2014 (Photo: Alan Ashby)

The original air raid shelter, Sanctuary Garden,now Wild Place, Bristol, 2014 (Photo: Alan Ashby)

This shelter in their Sanctuary Garden is also pictured on their Wild Place project Facebook page entry for Remembrance Sunday last year 2013.

Wild Place project Facebook photos Sanctuary Garden wartime shelters, covered in edible nasturtiums!

Wild Place project Facebook photos Sanctuary Garden wartime shelters, covered in edible nasturtiums!

There is a brief history of the Hollywood Tower estate (which survived intact into the 1950s/60s) on the Parks and Gardens site with information from the Avon Gardens Trust.

Bristol Zoo Gardens as its name suggests is famous for its gardens, lawns to lounge on and floral displays, transformed in wartime into vegetable beds much to the dismay of its gardens staff. This tradition lives on with gardens used to transform old enclosures and enrich animal lives, much as we do with plants at Newquay Zoo. The Bristol Zoo Edible Garden is one such very successful gardens project at Bristol Zoo set up by Head Gardener Eddie Mole and team.

I love walled gardens and this walled garden reminds me very strongly of the garden restoration at Heligan in Cornwall but also the wartime garden restoration at Trengwainton (National Trust) Garden in Cornwall, where we took our World War Zoo Gardens travelling display along to their wartime garden recent 40s event, pictured here.

Another interesting wartime zoo garden mystery solved and another interesting set of gardens and amazing animals to go and see!

More on Bristol Zoo’s archives, recent 175th anniversary and history including WW1 pictures here along with interviews with John Partridge some fabulous film footage of Bristol Zoos’s gardens including the gardens with uniformed visitors  in the 1940s (with elephants!)

Happy National Allotment Week 4 – 10 August 2014 - see also our previous post on this event.

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

National Allotment Week 4 – 10 August 2014 in the World War Zoo Garden at Newquay Zoo

July 30, 2014

WW1 soldiers gardening

WW1 soldiers gardening

As an unlikely part of the National Allotment Society NSALG, we at Newquay Zoo like to mark the National Allotment Week in some way on our recreated wartime zoo keepers allotment.

Although the focus of our recreated wartime zoo keeper’s allotment is WW2’s Dig For Victory campaign, we have increasingly been asked about zoos, allotments and gardens in World War 1. part of the focus of Allotment Week this year is the WW1 heritage being commemorated around Britain http://www.1914.org

“The week is also an opportune time to highlight the need to strengthen the protection for our remaining allotment sites and emphasise the benefits allotments bring to people and the environment. The 4 August 1914 saw Britain declare war on Germany and although allotments had existed in the UK from the 18th century, the ensuing food shortages lead to the creation of the local authority allotments that we recognise today. Their numbers have waned considerably but 100 years later working an allotment plot remains a popular pastime. This contribution that allotments make to the health and well-being of people and the quality of the environment is generally acknowledged and has been endorsed by many studies but there is much competition for land in our crowded urban environments and, although protected by legislation, allotments are vulnerable …” (NSALG website)

Allotments on the railway side, South West, WW1 (unnamed magazine photo in author's collection)

Allotments on the railway side, South West, WW1 (unnamed magazine photo in author’s collection)

 

Over the next week, I’ll be changing our small permanent display case in the Tropical House at Newquay Zoo, adding some WW1 material amongst the WW2 Dig for Victory material (such as WW1 ration books, recipe books and postcards). Along with WW1 medals and stories of Keepers in WW1, this will show how the experiences of WW1 prepared zoo and gardens staff for surviving WW2 – what was similar and what was very different?

Display case of wartime memorabilia, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

More on zoos, gardeners and gardens and WW1 commemoration

We have previously written about the WW1 losses at ZSL London Zoo Regent’s Park, who are planning their own WW1 exhibition. For example one of their zoo gardeners Robert Jones was killed, alongside many keepers and other staff:

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/remembering-lost-wartime-staff-of-zsl-london-zoo-in-ww1/

and at the now closed  Belle Vue Zoo in Manchester:

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/remembering-zoo-staff-killed-on-active-service-poppy-days-are-here-again-in-the-world-war-zoo-gardens-at-newquay-zoo/

 

Spades as Trumps - allotments and an early version of Dig For Victory WW1, The War Budget, 1917

Spades as Trumps – allotments and an early version of Dig For Victory WW1, The War Budget, 1917

 

As we begin the WW1 centenary, many historic houses and gardens are marking their WW1 contribution. Some of these houses eventually became or diversified into becoming zoos and safari parks with the decline, demolition or diversification of the country house postwar after WW1 / WW2. Port Lympne was one such estate, Woburn, Knowsley and Longleat amongst others. Along with Heligan, other places such as Woburn Abbey are celebrating their contribution.

I wrote an article about this last year for the BGEN botanic gardens website on their free resources, all about using your garden or site heritage.

You can also read more about Kew Gardens in WW1 and garden editor Herbert Cowley’s wartime career on our past blog posts.

The UK National Inventory of War Memorials has an excellent project blog post by Frances Casey on Lost Gardeners of World War 1 with many interesting links to zoo and gardens staff memorials.

Exhibitions  on Gardeners in WW1 and at Kew Gardens with wartime garden tours and exhibitions. I look forward to talking on 20th October at Kew Gardens about our wartime gardens research at the KMIS talks – see www.kew.org and www.kewguild.org.uk for its events and 2014/15 talks list.

I’ve also been researching a local Cornish village war memorial and writing recently about food and farming in WW1 Britain.

Celebration bunting, cabbages and mascot Blitz Bear out in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo, Summer 2011

Celebration bunting, cabbages and mascot Blitz Bear out in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo, Summer 2011

The lights will be going out all over Europe on the evening of the 4th August http://www.1418now.org.uk/lights-out as part of wider 1914 centenary activities, see http://www.1914.org events.

Happy gardening, and happy National Allotment Week 4 to 10 August!

More pictures of our allotment in summer soon, resplendent with artichokes and broad beans before the animals get to eat them!

Mark Norris, World War Zoo

World War Zoo Gardens project spreads to other zoos and gardens

July 23, 2014

I was very pleased to see that our World War Zoo Gardens idea of celebrating and commemorating your site’s history and the role of zoos and animals in wartime has spread to other collections, just as I had hoped it would. I wrote an article about this last year for the BGEN botanic gardens website.

Whipsnade elephants ploughing for victory (Animal and Zoo magazine Sept.1940)

Whipsnade elephants ploughing for victory (Animal and Zoo magazine Sept.1940)

World War Zoo  – Port Lympne Reserve, Kent  

25 Aug 2014 – 31 Aug 2014

“Mark 100 years since the outbreak of World War I, 75 years since World War II and 70 years since D-Day by celebrating the role of animals throughout the war at Port Lympne.

Enjoy a special week of events and talks at Port Lympne as the park looks back on the extraordinary and untold stories of the animals during the war.  From pigeons carrying top secret messages to elephants helping local farmers in country void of horses, discover how animals helped to change the course of history.

Enjoy special talks at Port Lympne about how animals were cared for and look after during the war.  Learn about The Dickin Medal, a special award that honoured the vital work of animals during war from pigeons to horses serving on the frontline!

Port Lympne has enjoyed a long and rich military history since its construction in 1912 by the Rt Hon Sir Phillip Sassoon. He was Field Marshall Haig’s personal secretary during WW1 and went on to be an avid aviator at the nearby Lympne air field.  With Sassoon’s death in 1939 the MOD took charge of Port Lympne and RAF officers were stationed there from RAF Lympne and RAF Westenhanger. The mansion was now in the front line of the Battle of Britain. With special re-enactors at Port Lympne, you will be able to see how the soldiers and airmen involved in these events looked and lived …and you may even discover Port Lympne’s top secret plot to kidnap Adolf Hitler!”

See more at: http://www.visitkent.co.uk/events/171084/#sthash.hX05K8L4.dpuf  and World War Zoo Port Lympne Events

It’s a nice early summer birthday present for us, as this is what I was hoping would happen when I launched the World War Zoo gardens project in August 2009 six years ago. The WW1 centenary has brought us into contact with many different groups from London Zoo to Kew Gardens, small botanic gardens, re-enactors, garden history societies  and many others.

Over the next week, I’ll be changing our permanent display case over to some WW1 material amongst the WW2 Dig for Victory material, to show how the experiences of WW1 prepared zoo and gardens staff for surviving WW2 – what was similar and what was very different?

Display case of wartime memorabilia, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

More on zoos, gardeners and gardens and WW1 commemoration

As we begin the WW1 centenary, many historic houses and gardens are marking their WW1 contribution. Some of these houses eventually became or diversified into becoming zoos and safari parks with the decline, demolition or diversification of the country house postwar after WW1 / WW2. Port Lympne was one such estate, Woburn, Knowsley and Longleat amongst others. Along with Heligan, other places such as Woburn Abbey are celebrating their contribution.

You can also read more about Kew Gardens in WW1 and garden editor Herbert Cowley’s wartime career on our past blog posts.

The UK National Inventory of War Memorials has an excellent project blog post by Frances Casey on Lost Gardeners of World War 1 with many interesting links.

Exhibitions at the Museum of Garden History on Gardeners in WW1 and at Kew Gardens with wartime garden tours and exhibitions.

I look forward to talking on 20th October at Kew Gardens about our wartime gardens research at the KMIS talks – see www.kew.org and www.kewguild.org.uk for its events and 2014/15 talks list.

I’ve also been researching a local Cornish village war memorial and writing recently about food and farming in WW1 Britain.

Celebration bunting, cabbages and mascot Blitz Bear out in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo, Summer 2011

Celebration bunting, cabbages and mascot Blitz Bear out in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo, Summer 2011

Happy gardening, and happy National Allotment Week 4 to 10 August!

Mark Norris, World War Zoo

 

Lost Gardeners of World War One – 1914 and 1915

June 29, 2014

“It is to be hoped that we shall not have too many deaths to record among horticulturalists …”

wrote  a Versailles nurseryman in the October 24th 1914 edition of the Gardener’s Chronicle. It was to prove a false hope.

Reading through First World war period copies of The Garden, My Garden Illustrated and The Gardener’s Chronicle, it is possible to get some idea of the effects of the “Great War” on gardeners, their families and the parks or estates where many of them worked.

I’ve been researching since 2009 for the World War Zoo Gardens project based at Newquay Zoo how zoos and botanic gardens survived wartime and increasingly we’re asked about what happened in WW1.

The Garden 1917, edited by Herbert Cowley.

The Garden 1917, edited by Herbert Cowley.

The Gardener’s Chronicle is now available online in several places including at the Biodiversity Heritage Library www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/83840# Library online at the University of Amherst and other websites. The Garden Illustrated edited by Kew gardener and injured soldier Herbert Cowley is also available online at this and other sites.

In August 1914 within weeks of war being declared, already some estate owners had published or publicised the patriotic response of their gardens staff; Welbeck Abbey was one such estate which soon  became a military hospital and later army staff college. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, assassinated at Sarajevo in June 1914, one of the flashpoint triggers of WW1, was injured in a hunting accident there before the war.

At Rotherfield Park, Hampshire, Head Gardener Wilmot H. Yates joined the National Reserve, one of whose tasks was to guard Prisoners of War (Gardener’s Chronicle, 19 September 1914). POWs by the end of the war would be working on the land to replace the men killed or on active service.

G.B.Blackwell of Woodgreen Park Estate, Cheshunt, Herts proudly sent a photograph of 6 unnamed Woodgreen Park gardeners who had enlisted.

J.L. Veitch of the famous Nursery family was swiftly gazetted a Captain in the 7th Cyclists’ Battalion, Devonshire Regiment and saw action in France by Christmas 1914. He was one of many Kew Gardens trained men to be killed later in the war on 21 May 1918, an obituary being posted in the Gardener’s Chronicle on 1 June 1918. Later in the same month in 1914, 40 Kew Gardens men were noted as volunteered (see our Kew WW1 blogpost).

Baron de Worms of Milton Park was noted as having “sent 6 servants” or estate staff, along with a former South African / Boer War veteran Head Gardener William Gent on the National Reserve (see above), who was also liable for call up.

Notable was also the sons of older nurserymen being called up and for the professional soldiers and reservists amongst them, quickly being killed in the early battles of the war. This loss of heirs “and sons” would have an ongoing effect on historic houses and estate gardens, as well as nursery businesses for many years after WW1. It was to be part of the death and decline of many such gardens.

One correspondent ‘A.C.’ in The Gardener’s Chronicle of September, 19th 1914 notes that some gardens staff were leaving their gardens posts not only to enlist but also to avoid “coercion on the part of employers is to be deprecated.”

 

WW1 soldiers gardening

WW1 soldiers gardening

War, Lord Derby and Knowsley
Interestingly for someone researching the effect of the war on zoos, Knowsley Hall (now home of Knowsley Safari Park) had extensive parkland and an exotic menagerie, once painted in Victorian times by Edward Lear. Many of its gardens staff joined up, supported by Knowsley’s owner the Earl of / Lord  Derby:

Gardeners respond to the Call
Eight young men from the fruit and plant departments of Knowsley [Park], the seat of the Earl of Derby, have volunteered or active service … Lord Derby will keep the places of the men open until the end of the war … Gardener’s Chronicle, 29 August 1914.

Lord Derby went on to set up the Derby Scheme to encourage more volunteers for the Army, but eventually conscription was introduced in 1916. Lord Derby served as Secretary of State for War from 1916 to 1918.

In the Second World War, parts of the grounds of Knowsley Park near Prescot were used as tank and army training. The craters were still visible when the Safari Park was created in 1971. There was also a No 49 SLG (Satellite Landing Ground) RAF Knowsley Park from May 1942 to November 1944, staffed by No. 37 and 48 MU Maintenance Units. Remnants of a P51 fighter were excavated from a crash site recently.

Knowsley Esate Prescot (now Safari Park) Tank Training 1940/1 IWM image collection English: The British Army in the United Kingdom 1939-45  Matilda II and Light Mk VI tanks of the Royal Tank Regiment on exercise in Knowsley Park, Prescot, near Liverpool, England, 25 July 1940. This training operation formed part of British preparations to repel the threatened German invasion of 1940.  Image source : IWM H2529/ Wikipedia

Tanks on the Lawn! Knowsley Estate Prescot (now Safari Park) IWM image collection The British Army in the United Kingdom 1939-45
Matilda II and Light Mk VI tanks of the Royal Tank Regiment on exercise in Knowsley Park, Prescot, near Liverpool, England, 25 July 1940. This training operation formed part of British preparations to repel the threatened German invasion of 1940. Image source : IWM H2529/ Wikipedia

‘Disruption of the Horticultural Trades’ 1914
The war beginning in the August 1914 harvest season caused much disruption to the horticultural trades. In The Gardener’s Chronicle of the 19th September 1914, boy scouts are noted as harvesting flower and vegetable seeds – in Germany!

Show and exhibition halls became drill halls, being quickly requisitioned for mobilisation and the wave of eager recruits enlisting as volunteers. Many flower and produce shows were cancelled, including wartime Chelsea Flower Shows, the proceeds of others gone towards “the relief of distress caused by the war“. Other nurseries offloaded stocks of flowers and produce patritiocally to hospitals.

The Gardener’s Chronicle featured news in French and Belgian for the many refugee Belgians who had fled to Britain to escape the fighting. Very quickly French and Belgian horticulture was affected as fighting swept through the countryside, destroying vulnerable areas like glasshouses and nurseries. News of casualties of notable gardens and gardeners were carried in these journals and a Societe Francaise d’ Horticulture de Londres continued to meet on the 1st Saturday of each month in London from 1915. The equivalent publication in France Le Jardin shut down at the start of the war by October 1914 as so many of its staff had been mobilised into the war effort.

Much the same happened in Britain in some nurseries and businesses like the Cheddar Nursery of George B. Mallett, who had enlisted in the Bristol Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment when the rest of his eligible staff had enlisted; his nursery business was ‘suspended’ (Gardener’s Chronicle, 26 September 1914).

WW1, Ireland and The Easter Rising 1916

George B Mallett appears to have survived the war, unlike Alan Livingstone Ramsay, a partner in his father’s Charles Ramsay & Son, Royal Nurseries, Ballsbridge Road, Dublin:

“volunteered for service on the outbreak of war and has been gazetted a lieutenancy in the Royal Irish Regiment. He left Dublin on Christmas Eve 1914 to join the second battalion of his Regiment at the front and was last heard of at Rouen” (GC, 9 January 1915).

Although he served in France, Ramsay was to die aged 26 on active service on 24 April 1916 fighting in his home town of Dublin. He was the first Dublin-born British Army officer to die fighting the Irish rebels in the Easter Rising for Irish independence of 1916. According to his CWGC records, he is buried in Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin. Catherine de Courcy’s excellent history of Dublin Zoo describes more about how the city and its Anglo-Irish institutions like the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland’s zoo fared during the uprising. You can read more about Ramsay and his family on a JSTor archive article from the Dublin Historical Record. 

There is more about how WW1 affected Anglo -Irish estates and gardeners in the WW1 Kew gardens blog post entries about Charlie Beswick and C.F. Ball, along with my ‘garden ghosts’ article on the BGEN website, mentioning lost gardeners from Glasnevin, Kilmacurragh and Fota Gardens in Ireland.  

Other gardens affected in 1914 / 1915

Glasgow Parks and Gardens Department records 5 young gardeners gone from the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Overall 29 of its men volunteered for the Kitchener’s New Army of volunteers. Kew Gardens, Birmingham and RBGE Edinburgh Botanic Gardens would also lose staff to the war.
5 staff and 3 students had left Wisley to enlist (Gardener’s Chronicle, 12 September 1914) – a memorial exists for their fallen staff.

Messrs. Sanders and Sons notes from their orchid houses 12 out of 27 staff joined up including 3 Belgians, leaving behind a staff of “nearly all married and elderly” whilst at Chivers & Sons 40 joined the colours, many Reservists or Kitchener volunteers (Gardener’s Chronicle, 5 September 1914). Other presumably smaller nurseries note single staff leaving such as P.C. Bridge, the travelling salesman from J. Cheal’s Lowfield Nursery joining the 25th County of London Regiment Motorcycle Section (GC, 12 September 1914).

Bridge appears to have survived the war, unlike another Cheal’s man, Private Richard Hubert Holton, the son of Richard Henry and Sarah Holton,

“foreman at J. Cheal and Son’s Nursery, Crawley, Sussex to whom the deepest sympathy will be extended by his numerous friends in the horticultural world …” (Gardener’s Chronicle, 31 August 1918)

Private R.H. Holton, 201034, 1/4 Royal Sussex Regiment died in the closing months of the war aged 25, on 29 July 1918 and is buried at Jonchery-sur-Vesle British Cemetery, Marne, France.

Jonchery sur Vesle cemetery, France a post war concentration cemetery where Holton lies buried. Image CWGC website

Jonchery sur Vesle cemetery, France a post war concentration cemetery where Holton lies buried. Image CWGC website

Sutton’s Seeds and WW1

9 staff went from Suttons Seeds of Reading into the Territorial Force, along with several of Arthur Sutton’s sons, Eric and Noel quickly gazetted as officers. Arthur Sutton established a rifle range for his staff at Bucklebury Place.

Sutton was to lose most of his sons in the war, “of his five sons who have joined HM Forces, four have laid down their lives for their country” (Gardener’s Chronicle, 6 April 1918). His other son Leonard Noel Sutton was badly wounded. A fuller account of this is given in Richard Van Emden’s recent book, The Quick and the Dead. A memorial (UKNIWM#1940) survives to his sons and the staff of the Royal Seed Establishment (Sutton’s), listing 23 names, worthy of a separate blog post in future.

Several articles in 1914/5 and even adverts by Clay’s Fertiliser notes the bizarre development of trials by Sutton’s of using radioactive uranium to encourage lettuce growth! This substance would be put to an even deadlier and less optimistically constructive use at the end of the next war.

1916 onwards

After the Somme battles beginning 1st July 1916, I thought that long casualty lists would appear in the pages of Gardener’s  Chronicle and other journals in the weeks after July 1916 as  many of  Kitchener’s 1914 and 1915 volunteers, Derby scheme men and Pals battalions saw action. However surprisingly few obituary entries appear in the second half of 1916 and into 1917, although I’m sure the deaths and wounds of many ordinary gardens staff went unnoticed in the garden journals. We shall describe the effect on gardeners and the horticultural world after 1915 in the second part of this article in a future blog post.

Gardening, allotments and food production was soon to change gear with the unrestricted U-Boat warfare of 1917, loss of men, disastrous harvests and the spread of patriotic allotments along with food rationing in 1917 and 1918. Herbert Cowley’s editorials in The Garden Illustrated increasingly reflected this.

ww1 ration book

ww1 ration book

Gardening was also suggested as horticultural therapy during and after the war for recovering physical and mental health of returning veterans, something that has reoccurred recently through Gardening Leave with links to Chelsea Physic Garden and Royal Chelsea Hospital and other groups, again another blog story here for the future, illustrated with contemporary WW1 gardening journal links.

 

Inside a ww1 ration book

Inside a ww1 ration book

More on gardeners and gardens in WW1
You can also read more about Kew Gardens in WW1 and garden editor Herbert Cowley’s wartime career on our past blog posts.
The UK National Inventory of War Memorials has an excellent project blog post by Frances Casey on Lost Gardeners of World War 1 with many interesting links.

As we begin the WW1 centenary, many historic houses and gardens are marking their WW1 contribution. Some of these houses eventually became or diversified into becoming zoos and safari parks with the decline of the country house postwar after WW1 / WW2. Along with Heligan, other places such as Woburn Abbey are celebrating their contribution.

Exhibitions at the Museum of Garden History on Gardeners in WW1 and at Kew Gardens with wartime garden tours and exhibitions.

I look forward to talking in October at Kew Gardens about our wartime gardens  research at the KMIS talks -see www.kew.org and www.kewguild.org.uk for its events and 2014/15 talks list.

I’ve also been researching a local Cornish village war memorial and writing recently  about food and farming in WW1 Britain.

Meanwhile its forward in time and back out onto the WW2 Dig For Victory allotment at Newquay Zoo to tidy up after some delicious and much needed days of rain and clearing all that has bolted in the recent hot weather, some to the animals at the Zoo, some to the compost heap.

Happy gardening,

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project , Newquay Zoo, 29 June 2014

D-Day and a curious 1944 matchbox diary

June 1, 2014

Amongst my World War Zoo Gardens project collection of original civilian diaries and letters from WW2 is a recently acquired  1944 HMSO No. S3 Diary, its military date stamp [Jan?] 1944, crossed out with childish writing: “Matchbox Album”

Front cover of Bernie Walker's curious 1944 diary. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Front cover of Bernie Walker’s curious 1944 diary. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Inside along with adverts to buy 3% Defence Bonds from the National Savings Committee is the pencilled inscription S/Sgt Bernie Walker US Army for ‘Sammy‘, amidst lists in childish writing [by Sammy?] of countries where the matchbooks and matchbox covers pasted on the pages have come from.

'For Sammy' title page 1944 diary. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

‘For Sammy’ title page 1944 diary. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

January to March 1944 pages are covered with matchbox covers some of which have overprinted “War Quality 2 Pices” on Indian made matchboxes, a few possibly postwar ones (marked 1947) from almost every country in Europe and many countries of the Empire (India, Burma, S.Africa) as well as Canada, USA, Japan, Lebanon and others.

Wartime propaganda matchbooks  & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection  Image:  Mark Norris, WWZG.

Wartime propaganda matchbooks & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

The matchbox labels themselves are interesting as wartime propaganda, with lots of patriotic slogans:
– “Waste in wartime is a crime”
– “Save food, save metal, save bags, save paper”
– “Save coal gas electricity paraffin, save fuel for battle!”
– a football picture with the words “Back up your side, and help the war effort”.
– “Don’t talk about your work, get on with it!”
– “We must win! Buy more war bonds stamps” and other similar
– “Invest in America, Buy War Bonds” (Maryland USA match co.) and “Keep ‘Em Flying Buy War Bonds” (Jersey USA match co.)
– Canadian YMCA War Services Along with a big “V for Victory” (Canadian matches)

More wartime propaganda matchbooks  & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection  Image:  Mark Norris, WWZG.

More wartime propaganda matchbooks & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

A colourful childhood collection given to & continued by Sammy?

However on the first blank pages in late March 1944 is written:

Wednesday 29 March 1944: Surgeon Commander Visit to Unit with General Bradley and General Gerhardt and [?] HQ.

1944 diary WWZG collection  Image:  Mark Norris, WWZG.

1944 diary WWZG collection Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Charles Gerhardt (June 6, 1895 – October 9, 1976) commanded the U.S. 29th Infantry Division from 1943 throughout its training in Cornwall and Devon and D-Day until the end of World War 2.  Omar Bradley was chosen to command the US First Army throughout D-Day. I’m not sure who the Surgeon Commander was, it may well have been US Army Surgeon General Norman Kirk

More wartime propaganda matchbooks  & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection  Image:  Mark Norris, WWZG.

May 1944 diary entries, Walker diary WWZG collection Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Monday 24 April 1944: Intensive Training Category B Exercise (Amphibious) (B)

Ditto for Tuesday 25 to Thursday 27 April 1944.

Friday 28 April 1944 – Training Live Category A ocean and beach Assault (A)
Enemy shipping in Area (U/T) some units engaged. Some of our boats lost.

Saturday 29 April 1944: All information heavily censored and restricted.

The following first week of May the diary is ruled across and the words “Censored” written in, no other entries recorded throughout the rest of May. It is interesting to see contemporary references to Exercise Tiger, where hundreds of US servicemen were lost off Slapton Sands in Devon on 28/29 April 1944.

Friday 2 June 1944: large movement of forces and equipment

Saturday 3 June 1944: ditto

Sunday 4 June 1944: boarding for Exercise Category A

Monday 5 June 1944: En boarding for Exercise. Weather heavy swell / Storm

More wartime propaganda matchbooks  & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection  Image:  Mark Norris, WWZG.

More wartime propaganda matchbooks & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

No further entries are recorded for the day after, 6th June 1944, which was of course D-Day.

There are only a couple more scrawled entries:

Tuesday 18 July 1944:  St Lo France Falls.

Thursday 26 August 1944:  Brest France Offensive

Monday 18 September 1944:  Brest France Falls

Thursday 7 December 1944 page lists River Elbe 4/19/45
River Roer 2/23/45. Bremen Germany 1945

The remaining pages are full of matchbox and matchbook covers, some from wartime, others from the 1950s (for example Festival of Britain 1951, Ascent of Everest 1953).

More Research Needed?

I’m not sure at the moment about the full story behind the diary / album and it demands more research. If you have any other thoughts or insights on this unusual diary, please contact me through the comments page.

  • Who was ‘Sammy’ for whom the diary or album was a gift?
  • Who was Staff Sergeant Bernie Walker who gave the album & presumably wrote the diary?
  • When and how were the matchbooks and matchboxes collected?

Looking at these places and dates, it seems likely that this album is from someone connected with the 29th Infantry Division. In May 1943 the division moved to the Devon–Cornwall peninsula and started conducting simulated attacks against fortified positions. At this time it was assigned to V Corps of the First United States Army. After training in England for two years, the 29th took part in D-Day or Operation Overlord, the landings in Normandy. The division was among the first wave of troops to the shore at Omaha Beach, suffering massive casualties in the process. It then advanced to Saint-Lô, and eventually through France and into Germany itself. All this tallies with entries in the diary.

Hopefully the 29th Infantry Division Historical Society or Regimental Association may have a record of Staff Sergeant Bernie Walker. There is an excellent autobiographical article by PFC Mills H. Hobbs in the recent 29th Association newsletter. The 29th have several related reenactment groups which you can find online, no doubt very busy with June 1944 commemorations.

Previous related blog posts
I have written several times about D-Day stories uncovered during World War Zoo Gardens research, and our Cornwall and Devon links, through Newquay Zoo, Paignton Zoo and Slapton Ley (all run by the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust).
http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/d-day-1944-and-the-disappearing-peacocks-and-ducks-of-wartime-paignton-zoo/

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/over-here-70th-anniversary-of-first-us-troops-arriving-in-britain/

TRebah and LC USA links 014

So this week on the 70th anniversary of the 6th June 1944 landings I will be thinking of S/Sgt Bernie Walker, among  the many V Corps / 29th division troops that embarked from our local Cornwall & Devon beaches, hards & harbours like Brixham & Trebah, those that trained at Slapton Sands, as well as the US IVth Infantry Division  GIs (the “Ivy Boys”) camped at Paignton Zoo not to mention some missing & delicious peacocks & wildfowl …

Over Here, then off to D-Day beaches 1944: wreath at Trebah Gardens war memorial, Cornwall

29 Lets Go –  Over Here, then off to D-Day beaches 1944: wreath at Trebah Gardens war memorial, Cornwall

 

I’ll also be thinking of one of my neighbours whose late father went in with the British 48th Royal Marine Commandos at Juno Beach (pictured in the IWM image B5218  & survived the Normandy Landings on 6 June 1944, but that’s another story for another blog post …

Thanks to Nigel & Tony at http://www.militarytrader.co.uk for their sourcing & assistance with the item.

Trengwainton Garden’s “Hurrah for the Home Front” 1940s event 2014 in pictures

May 12, 2014

A few pictures to say thanks to the many re-enactors, visitors and National Trust staff and volunteers at Trengwainton Gardens whom I met during  their “spirit of the 1940s” event, an enjoyable and outing away from Newquay Zoo for our own Wartime Garden project display.

Myself pictured with trusty 'weapon of war' on the garden front outside our World War Zoo gardens exhibition tent.  Image: WWZG

Myself pictured with trusty ‘weapon of war’ on the garden front outside our World War Zoo gardens exhibition tent. Image: WWZG

We had two exhibition areas staffed by myself and family and National Trust staff and volunteers, who helped us lug, load and put up the display (thanks to Marina, Abi, Gareth, Phil and many others). It was lovely to meet so many (of you) interesting people in a very busy but enjoyable 1940s day on Sunday 11 May 2014 at Trengwainton Gardens near Penzance, celebrating their wartime allotment project.

We spent a whole day chatting about recreating our own wartime garden as part of our research into how zoos and botanic gardens survived the shortages of the 1940s, partly through ‘Dig for Victory’ gardens to feed the animals. Many people asked about our First World War research into this area and also about its potential solutions for the future. We  spoke to teachers about our schools workshops, handed out lots of free wartime recipe sheets to visitors and listened (over plentiful cups of tea) to many interesting wartime family stories. All to a great 1940s sound track.

A few of our travelling display items, WWZG project, Trengwainton May 2014.  Image: WWZG

A few of our travelling display items, WWZG project, Trengwainton May 2014. Image: WWZG

More vintage gardening kit and our Gnome Guard mascot at Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG

More vintage gardening kit and our Gnome Guard mascot at Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the many visitors in costume with vintage vehicles, Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG

Some of the many visitors in costume with vintage vehicles, Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG

Visitors and re-enactors turned up in period costume to join in with the event, which had 1940s music, vintage  vehicles and some great cakes too!

Colourful vintage costume, Trengwainton 2014 Image: WWZG

Colourful vintage costume, Trengwainton 2014 Image: WWZG

More period costume,  Trengwainton 2014. Image: WWZG

More period costume, Trengwainton 2014. Image: WWZG

Another fabulous vintage costume effort outside the recreated Anderson shelter, Trengwainton Gardens "dig for victory allotment", Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

Another fabulous vintage costume effort outside the recreated Anderson shelter, Trengwainton Gardens “dig for victory allotment”, Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

For an event like Trengwainton’s 1940s day celebrating the spirit and ingenuity of the austere but stylish 1940s, it was wonderful to see the ingenious and spirited costumes summoned up by re-enactors and visitors alike.

A nice cup of tea and a sit down, listening to the 1940s singalong, complete with period picnic basket, Trengwainton, 2014. Image WWZG

A nice cup of tea and a stylish sit down, listening to the 1940s singalong, complete with period picnic basket, Trengwainton, 2014. Image WWZG

More stylish visitors to Trengwainton's 1940s day, 2014. Image WWZG

More stylish visitors to Trengwainton’s 1940s day, 2014. Image WWZG

Trengwainton's 1940s singalong and lively dancing by re-enactors. Or is it unarmed combat training? Image - WWZG

Trengwainton’s 1940s singalong and lively dancing by re-enactors. Or is it unarmed combat training? Image – WWZG

In our wartime garden display tent, we heard many stories from visitors who were evacuated as children to the local area which we wish we could have recorded many of them. Not all the stories were happy ones, some were moved several times, others made friendships of a lifetime with their host families.

A happy evacuee! Trengwainton 1940s day, 2014.

A happy evacuee! Trengwainton 1940s day, 2014.

Along with costumed visitors and gardens staff, there were many re-enactors from the WW2  Re-enactment SouthWest group representing the British and American troops, Home Guard and Land Army girls who would have been at Trengwainton or stationed in the area.

'Event security' - American GI Military Police (MP) style, Trengwainton 1940s day, 2014. Image -WWZG.

‘Event security’ – American GI Military Police (MP) style, Trengwainton 1940s day, 2014. Not the only re-enactor animal, there were re-enactor chickens too! Image -WWZG.

 

Not your usual National Trust gardener's  uniform - Gareth (left) who is researching Trengwainton's wartime past and his family links to the local Home Guard, as well as running the Wartime allotment. Image - WWZG.

Not your usual National Trust gardener’s uniform – Gareth (left) who is researching Trengwainton’s wartime past and his family links to the local Home Guard, as well as running their wartime allotment. Image – WWZG.

Home Guard re-enactor, Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG

Home Guard re-enactor, Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG

Drilling  some young visitors in Home Guard drill, Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Drilling some young visitors in Home Guard drill, Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

Many of the re-enactors had pitched camp the night before and put together evocative collections of artefacts, from motorbikes to simple camp stoves and even a mini farm yard! Hopefully they were all awakened by bugle call!

Re-enactor's wake up call! Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG

Re-enactor’s wake up call! Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG

 

Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

A few famous Home Guard names on the patrol list board! Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

A few famous Home Guard names on the patrol list board! Trengwainton, 2014. Image- WWZG.

A few famous Home Guard names on the patrol list board! Trengwainton, 2014. Image- WWZG.

Ladies in Khaki, Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Ladies in Khaki, Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG.

Re-enactors with a much admired vintage motor bike, Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Re-enactors with a much admired vintage motor bike, Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG.

Warden's tent, Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Warden’s tent, Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

Smoky and atmospheric Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Smoky and atmospheric Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG.

Smoky and atmospheric Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Smoky and atmospheric Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A chat with the Warden. One in every six wardens was a woman.  Trengwainton 2014. Image -   WWZG.

A chat with the Warden. One in every six wardens was a woman. Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

A knit and natter and vintage crafts in costume, Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

A knit and natter and vintage crafts in costume, Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

Visitors, vintage crafts and costumes, National Trust Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

Visitors, vintage crafts and costumes, National Trust Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

 

Chatting with visitors outside our wartime garden tent exhibition, Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

Chatting with visitors outside our wartime garden tent exhibition, Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

Vintage vehicles and costumes on the drive at Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Vintage vehicles and costumes on the drive at Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

 

Trengwainton, 2014. Image- WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image- WWZG.

Many of the re-enactors I spoke to were very busy with the forthcoming 70th anniversary commemorations of D -Day not only here in the South West but also in Normandy, paying tribute in their own way, sharing their interest with the next generation and showing that these remarkable and troubling times are not forgotten.

Time for a cup of tea and a chat,  outside our wartime garden exhibition.  Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

Time for a cup of tea and a chat, outside our wartime garden exhibition. Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

Part of Newquay Zoo's World War Zoo Gardens schools wartime zoo workshop materials - helmets and uniforms - to try on, Trengwainton 2014. Image WWZG

Part of Newquay Zoo’s World War Zoo Gardens schools wartime zoo workshop materials – helmets and uniforms – to try on, Trengwainton 2014. Image WWZG

Part of Newquay Zoo's World War Zoo Gardens schools wartime garden materials - recipe and gardening books, Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

Part of Newquay Zoo’s World War Zoo Gardens  wartime garden materials – recipe and gardening books, Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

Following up our previous blog post, it was lovely to see the Wartime Garden project at Trengwainton full of visitors and growing away well. This was our connection to the day, a similar wartime garden recreation at Newquay Zoo, born around the same time in 2009 and with some shared research into crop varieties and period features. There’s also one at Occombe Farm in Devon!

The Trengwainton wartime garden Potting Shed open for  display, 2014. Image - WWZG.

The Trengwainton wartime garden Potting Shed open for display, 2014. Image – WWZG.

Everyday 1940s items in the Trengwainton wartime garden Anderson shelter  open for  display, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Everyday 1940s items in the Trengwainton wartime garden Anderson shelter open for display, 2014. Image – WWZG.

It was the many chats with visitors that made the day a special event. Land Girls in the wartime garden, Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

It was the many chats with visitors that made the day a special event. Land Girls back in the wartime garden, Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

Land Girls back in the wartime garden at Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Land Girls back in the wartime garden at Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

Trengwainton Garden Dig for Victory allotment May 2014. Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton Garden Dig for Victory allotment, May 2014. Image – WWZG.

Thanks to Claire for the  pictures and thanks to all the people who took part, chatted to us and shared their stories  and had their photos taken.  If you don’t like your photo, please contact me via the comments and I can remove it. Hopefully this selection of photos  gives you a feel of the event in 2014. If you’re not featured, sadly not all of the pictures came out. We look forward to next year (or whenever we next meet!)

Sadly after a day of 1940s singalong when I got home and unpacked our display materails, it was to find that David Lowe from BBC Radio Devon – almost the sound track of our wartime garden for many years – is now off air on Sunday evenings. We will not be alone across many generations  in missing his programme greatly.

Mark Norris, WWZG World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall.

Trengwainton’s Wartime Garden Project, Cornwall

May 2, 2014

I was really pleased to finally make it to Trengwainton Gardens at Penzance in Cornwall to see their wartime garden project this week. I was scouting out locations for our possible World War Zoo Gardens wartime garden display at Trengwainton’s 1940s wartime garden weekend “Hoorah for the Home Front” on Sunday 11th May 2014.

The entry in the walled garden through to Trengwainton's wartime garden in the orchard May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

The entry in the walled garden through to Trengwainton’s wartime garden in the orchard May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

I came across this project several years ago when I was researching our own Wartime garden at Newquay Zoo and exchanged 1940s plant variety notes with one of the Project consultants, Paul Bonnington.

Trengwainton NT wartime garden May 2014.  Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Trengwainton NT wartime garden May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Trengwainton have recreated an Anderson shelter, something I wanted to do in the first plans for the Newquay Zoo version of a wartime allotment in 2009. Many months later trawling eBay for original ‘heritage rust’ available from as little as 99p (if you travel to the other side of the country to dig up and dismantle it for the owners), I decided against the idea.
Instead I sent Paul the shelter plans and dimensions from original 1940s ARP publications and woodworking magazines. Trengwainton have recreated one in full shiny glory, not yet covered in a protective and productive coating of soil and produce. People at the time were worried that the shiny metal would be too easily visible from the air, hence the edible camouflage that soon appeared on top.

Land girls back at Trengwainton wartime garden NT, Cornwall May 2014  Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Land girls back at Trengwainton wartime garden NT, Cornwall May 2014
Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

In several Land Girl autobiographies and histories (such as the oral history account produced by the Penzance / West Cornwall based Hypatia Trust) Trengwainton is mentioned. Land Girls from all over Britain trained, lived and worked at gardens like Trengwainton.

Project signage, Dig for Victory Wartime garden, Trengwainton, NT, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Project signage, Dig for Victory Wartime garden, Trengwainton, NT, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Propaganda posters of WLA Land Girls aside, the less glamorous side of wartime gardening has been ‘recreated’ in this working garden such as compost heaps. Just as we use produce from the Newquay Zoo version to feed our animals (and occasionally in the cafe), Trengwainton uses produce from its several sections of walled gardens (built apparently, no one knows why, to the dimensions of Noah’s Ark) in its tearooms.

Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image Mark Norris, WWZG.

Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image Mark Norris, WWZG.

I look forward to joining the events and gardens team there and other re-enactors from the Southwest WW2 reenactment society in celebrating “the spirit and ingenuity” of the 1940s on the 11th May 2014, with a small display of our wartime garden materials that we use with schools (see previous blog post). You can find out more about the Trengwainton garden and events: Www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trengwainton-garden  There are photos of past 40s weekends there in local news coverage. 

Hooray for the Home Front poster 11 May 2014, Trengwainton, NT, Cornwall.

Hooray for the Home Front poster 11 May 2014, Trengwainton, NT, Cornwall.

Our Wartime garden project co-opts Newquay Zoo’s free-ranging chickens as and when required for displays. Trengwainton has built coops in the orchard for several beautiful Buff Orpington hens and chicks, a great sound effect background noise to the garden project.

Salvage bins marked up WVS, a nice touch in the chicken coop, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Salvage bins marked up WVS, a nice touch in the chicken coop, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

 

Buff Orpington chickens, Trengwainton wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014 Image: Mark Norris: WWZG.

Buff Orpington chickens, Trengwainton wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014 Image: Mark Norris: WWZG.

Trengwainton's orchard with walled garden backdrop, wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Trengwainton’s orchard with walled garden backdrop, wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

 

Unusual 'aeroplane' weathercock or bird scarer, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Unusual ‘aeroplane’ weathercock or bird scarer, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

A bit of Trengwainton's history on its wartime garden signage, Cornwall, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

A bit of Trengwainton’s history on its wartime garden signage, Cornwall, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Another clever idea (similar to something I am working on at Newquay Zoo) is their display potting shed, full of period items.

Inside the wartime potting shed, wartime garden project,  Trengwainton NT, Cornwall, May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Inside the wartime potting shed, wartime garden project, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall, May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Anderson shelter recreated, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Anderson shelter recreated, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Chickens and rose hips, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Chickens and rose hips, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Rose hips were (after research into their Vitamin C content at Kew) gathered as a source of Vitamin C during wartime, often by WIs and schoolchildren keen to make some pocket money.

Wartime poster, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Wartime poster, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Recreating a wartime potting shed, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Recreating a wartime potting shed, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

I hope you enjoy these glimpses of Trengwainton’s Wartime garden project and get the chance to visit.

I might even meet some of you at their 1940s event on Sunday the 11th May 2014 which we hope to attend with our display; if I get the chance to photograph the event, I’ll post some further pictures here.

Pedople asked for views of the walled kitchen gardens at Trengwainton so here are a few more shots:

The main walled kitchen gardens at Trengwainton, Cornwall, May 2014 Image: Mark Norris: WWZG.

The main walled kitchen gardens at Trengwainton, Cornwall, May 2014 Image: Mark Norris: WWZG.

 

Green Manure (mustard) flowering in the Walled kitchen gardens, Trengwainton, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Green Manure (mustard) flowering in the Walled kitchen gardens, Trengwainton, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Walled kitchen gardens, Trengwainton, Cornwall, May 2014.  Image: Mark Norris, WWZG,

Walled kitchen gardens, Trengwainton, Cornwall, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG,

Posted by: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall. Contact via http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk

“For King and Country fought and died — Gardeners and Men !”

April 15, 2014

GARDENERS OF EMPIRE.

Tillers of the soil they were — just gardeners then,

In faith the day’s work doing as the day’s work came,

Peaceful art in peace pursuing — not seeking fame —

When through the Empire rang the Empire’s call for men!

Gardeners they were, finding in fragile flowers delight,

Lore in frail leaves, and charm even in wayside weeds.

Who, in their wildest dreams, ne’er rose to do brave deeds,

Defending righteous cause against relentless Might!

 

The wide world gave her flowers for them — the mountains high,

The valleys low, and classic hills all fringed with snow

Where fires by sunset kindled light the alpen-glow.

O ! Fate implacable ! — to see those hills and die !

 

The war god rose refreshed — Gardeners and Soldiers then!

Who, that slumbering Peace might wake, dared, with manhood’s zeal,

To make Life’s sacrifice to Love’s supreme appeal.

For King and Country fought and died — Gardeners and Men !

 

written by H. H. T

probably Harry H. Thompson, editor of the journal,   The Gardener,  who left Kew in 1899.

reprinted from the Kew Guild Journal, 1915. http://www.kewguild.org.uk/media/pdfs/v3s23p265-39.pdf

A timely  posting for it is National Gardens Week 14 – 20 April 2014 in the year of the First World War centenary http://www.1914.org

This was one of the poems that featured in my recent talk on zoos and botanic gardens in wartime as part of the garden and landscape history at the IHR University of London on 27 March 2014. Some of HHT’s phrases – “finding in fragile flowers delight” – have a faint echo of Gloucester poet Ivor Gurney (1890- 1937) that I have admired and studied for many years, now slowly finding his proper recognition as an artist and musician.  This poem as tribute or epitaph  is growing on me as I uncover how it reflects the lives and attitudes of a generation of lost gardeners of Kew (and the brief opportunities the war provided for women), a period beautifully illustrated by Lynn Parker and Kiri Ross-Jones’ new photographic history of Kew Gardens. You can read brief biographies of each of the 37 Kew casualties of WW1 on previous blog posts.

There are more IHR garden history talks in London coming up in May and Autumn, see http://www.history.ac.uk/events/seminars/121.

I also look forward to returning to Kew Gardens to do another wartime zoo and botanic garden talk in Autumn 2014 as part of their soon-to-be announced autumn programme of talks on http://www.kew.org/kmis.

37 Kew  staff lost  from 150 staff and old Kewites on active service in WW1 seems a disproprortionately large number but again Kew staff  are under threat of 125 staff posts at risk of redundancy, leading naturalists and garden writers from David Attenborough and James Wong to champion the role of Kew Gardens in the modern world. I hope that a solution can be found as it cast a shadow over my day meeting staff there. After visiting the Kew Gardens war memorial and the storm damaged and now vanished Verdun Oak , I met up with James Wearn, hard at work on Kew’s wartime centenary commemorations and look forward to posting more about this throughout the year. Floreat Kew!


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