Today we are exploring the property of the Potting Shed, a good five acres to get us up and about! Don and Charlotte are the proud owners of this beautiful property and lovingly take care of it. As I mentioned yesterday, Don was a farmer, and then the head gardener to Collingwood “Cherry” Ingram on his estate called ‘The Grange’ in Benenden. When Ingram died in 1981, ‘the Grange’ was divided and sold in parcels. This is where the story gets very interesting……… you just never know what you are going to stumble upon when looking into gardens! Don bought a parcel of five acres of ‘the Grange’ that also had the original gardener’s cottage on it and that is where he and Charlotte lived. What a keeper! And that original cottage, where they still live, is very much as it was when it was built in the 1930’s. Tiny, small rooms with huge fireplaces, slate floors and an old fashioned kitchen with a stove that was built before the AGA, I envied! I wanted to take pictures so badly, but how do you say, “Wow I might never see another cottage like this again and I know this is your private abode, but can I take about 500 pictures?” So I kept my mouth shut and just oggled and awed.
Now at the time I knew nothing about Cherry Ingram, so I had to find out more about him, so Don and Charlotte explained.
Collingwood “Cherry” Ingram (30 October 1880–19 May 1981) was an ornithologist, plant collector and gardener, who was an authority on Japanese flowering cherries.
In the early 1900s, Sir William Ingram employed Wilfred Stalker to collect bird skins in Australia for Collingwood to identify and catalogue at the London Natural History Museum, resulting in his first major publication. In 1907 he collected in Japan and for his work there he was made an Honorary Member of the Ornithological Society of Japan. However, his main interest was in the field study of birds; he made the first record of marsh warblers breeding in Kent. He was an accomplished bird artist. A planned book on the birds of France was interrupted by World War I and never completed, although part emerged as Birds of the Riviera in 1926. His 1916–18 journals record his war experiences and also his off-duty bird observations and sketches behind the lines in northern France. His published war diaries are packed with his pencil sketches of birds, people and landscapes. He interrogated pilots, on the height at which birds fly, resulting in a short paper after the War. He was member of the British Ornithologists’ Union for a record 81 years!
After World War I, horticulture took over from ornithology as Collingwood Ingram’s dominant interest. He created his famous garden at ‘The Grange’ in Benenden and collected plants across the world. His outstanding plant-collecting trips were to Japan in 1926 and South Africa in 1927.
By 1926, he was a world authority on Japanese cherries and was asked to address the Cherry Society in Japan on their national tree. It was on this visit that he was shown a painting of a beautiful white cherry, then thought to be extinct in Japan. He recognized it as one he had seen in a very bad state in a Sussex garden, the result of an early introduction from Japan. He had taken cuttings and so was able to re-introduce it to the gardening world as ‘Tai Haku’, the name meaning ‘Great White Cherry’. In March 2016 a book on his contribution to the survival of Japanese cherries was published in Japan: the title Cherry Ingram: the English Saviour of Japan’s Cherry Blossoms. He introduced many Japanese and species cherries to the country, as well as a number of his own hybrids. His 1948 book, Ornamental Cherries, became a standard work. Ingram introduced many other new garden plants, the best known of which are probably ‘Rubus Benenden’ a vigorous, medium sized deciduous shrub. Its white flowers have a yellow stamen at it’s center, and five saucer shaped petals. Its fruit are similar to those of the Bramble. The Rosemary, ‘Benenden Blue’ was also his work. Oh wow!
So now we will walk around the property and see what Don and Charlotte have added to it, besides the wonderful Potting Shed! Remember they are both artists, as well, and have added many cottages for their craft.
Don and Charlotte at the Potting Shed can be reached Here. I am writing many posts on the Potting Shed so be sure to check them all out! Tomorrow we’ll learn more about this fabulous garden! Until then ……..Enjoy!