Alan Chadwick was deeply influenced throughout his life by some of the finest gardens in Europe, and by his ever present muse – wild Nature. He spoke often of the days in his youth, spending days and weeks alone within Nature along the wild English Dorset coast.
Before entering theater training with Elsie Fogerty in her Central School of Speech and Drama, Alan studied at some of the finest botanic gardens and was apprenticed to the finest vegetable, fruit and flower growers in England and on the Continent. He studied fruit growing with Louis Lorette in Wagonville, France, toured Europe’s gardens with family, and spent time at the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens at Wisley and Kew in England. Alan was strongly influenced by the great estate gardens of England, and was deeply impressed by the system of French market gardens, or maraîchères, around Paris, tended by artistic le jardiners.
The approaches to Nature and horticulture exhibited by the Pheonicians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese were strong influences upon Alan’s future vision of horticulture, gardening and garden design.
Alan also spoke often with deep respect and fondness of the ancient medical-botanic gardens such as Padua in Italy, and the Chelsea Physic Gardens in London. He stated that while more modern botanical gardens have a treasure trove of plant species and plant knowledge, they lack the deeper spiritual approach to Nature.
Ninfa Gardens outside Rome was one he mentioned frequently toward the end of his life as “one of the most romantic gardens in the world.”
Other gardens that influenced Alan were the Tresco Abbey Gardens on the Scilly Isles off Britain’s Cornish coast, Claude Monet’s Giverny, Vita Sackville-West’s Sissinghurst, Hidcote Manor and the works of Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson.
All of these gardens, his horticultural work and experiences, and above all, Nature, inspired Alan Chadwick’s vast vision of what beautiful, soul-nurturing gardens could be.
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