Saturday, May 25, 2013

Visiting Lucy Boston's House, Part 2

Since we were early for our 2 PM house tour, we decided to explore the gardens. Lucy talks about designing and building the gardens in her memoir Memory in a House, which also contains some black and white photos of the gardens back when she published the book. However, I did not realize until her daughter-in-law Diana Boston gave us the tour how much of the gardens Lucy build from scratch. Apparently most of the yard was just meadow until she set to work.

What stunned me, Val, and Dave was how large the gardens were in size. We split up in the gardens, and they saw only the more cultivated side:


until I took them to see the the other side of the house, which has a  moat that surrounds three sides of it, a flowering meadow, and a bamboo thicket:

The bamboo thicket is where the gorilla Hanno lives in A Stranger at Green Knowe. The moat is a a constant presence in the books because when it floods, the house is cut off on an island, the way it was originally designed to be by its Norman builder, Payne Osmundson. The story of the builders of the house is told in The Stones of Green Knowe, which is the last of the series. The River Ouse features in The River at Green Knowe, and can be seen from the yard and the windows of the house.

One of my friends commented that the house and garden must be smaller than I expected since I had read the books first as a child and was now an adult. This is not quite true. Although the house was small - the walls are three feet thick so the exterior is larger than the interior, the gardens were bigger than expected. Boston gardened in the warm weather and wrote and created patchwork in the cold weather. It is amazing to see the variety of garden sections that she created. In my next post, I will discuss the gardens in terms of the books and of my experiences as a child both as her reader and as someone who grew up in a decent-sized yard and in fine public parks.

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