tips and wrinkles


Lady Mary Keen and Lord Jacob Rothschild

Sometimes I think, I garden on a “grand scale.”   It didn’t take long to put me in my place. Last night, Lord Jacob Rothschild and Lady Mary Keen spoke about using 50,000 plants for a bedding out scheme at the Rothschild home, Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire. Lady Mary Keen quoted an article in NYReview of Books ” The Rothschilds like to do things well, but they prefer to do things really well.”    And ‘really well’ and really traditional, characterize the gardens at Waddesdon Manor and Eythrope, the private house of Lord Rothschild.


The TomatoTrellis inside one of the glasshouses, pruned within an inch of its life. Photograph from the slide show presented by Lady Mary Keen


The apple and pear trellis duirng winter. Photograph from the slide show presented by Lady Mary Keen.

Mary Keen thanked Lord Rothschild  for sharing his knowledge, his skill and the beauty of Waddesdon and Eythrope.  I would like to share the following photos (from the slide show last night) as a small glimpse into a world of gardening, which might inspire us, but which few of us aspire to.


The display of auriculas, alpine cousins of wild primrose. Photograph from slide show presented by Lady Mary Keen.


The gourd display. Photograph by slide show presented by Lady Mary Keen.

Lady Mary Keen and Lord Jacob Rothschild have recently published Paradise and Plenty, a book about the gardens at Waddesdon Manor and Eythrope.  As Lady Mary said, “We didn’t want to do a vanity book.  We wanted to do a book with how-to information as well as wow sections.”  Lady Mary and Lord Rothschild did wow me.  Not necessarily with the immensity and grandeur of the garden, but with the matter of fact nature of their talk and their honesty about the difficulties of maintaining such a large property.


One of the many black and white spreads in the Paradise and Plenty. This illustrates the construction of collars,made from compost, around the cherry trees.


Growing bulbs one at a time. According to Mary Keen, amateurs make a mistake trying to grow many bulbs in one pot. The key to success is growing each bulb in a separate pot and combining them later in large dishes.

I have been to many historic gardens and loved them. Sissinghurst immediately comes to mind.  The gardens of Waddesdon Manor and Eythrope struck me like historical artifiacts. One can not help admire the skill, the determination and of course, the resources that are needed to keep these two properties going, but they seemed fixed in the past.  Lord Rothschild has refused to stay in the past.  He has created two new contemporary buildings and several contemporary sculptures.


The Flint House designed by SCDLP (Skene Catling de la Pena). Flint House will serve as home for visiting scholars which is part of new residency program. Flint is an ancienty material – a crystalline form of the mineral quartz .

“Since flint is little used as a building material today, a battery of knowledgeable craftsmen was assembled to work on the project, led by David Smith of the Flintman Company, and the rocks were hand-picked and sourced from five different quarries.  What’s unusual about the design – Smith notes it is the most ambitious to be attempted in flint since Edwardian time – is that while most buildings stick to one style of flintwork, here six different techniques are used to create the dramatic blend effect”.

In addition, the entrance to Waddesdon Manor has a new addition.


Of course they are bottles of Lafite.

Lord Rothschild referred to Waddesdon Manor as his ‘manor from heaven’.  I have a feeling, everyone’s garden is their manor from heaven.

Andrew Carnegie Distinguished Lecture
A Rothschild Evening:  An Intimate Look at 
Two English Rothschild Gardens:
Lord Rothschild and Lady Mary Keen
 Paradise and Plenty: A Rothschild Family Garden

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