I’m glad to say that the third part has now been published in the ‘Autumn’ issue, number 127, and my copy has now arrived. I am not disappointed. If anything, as the articles conclusion, it is the best of the three sections, bringing out the sum of the parts as one eulogic tribute to VKG and its legacy.
Sandra has cast her journalistic eye back to before 1987, comparing the state of walled kitchen gardens then, against what happened after the broadcast of 'The Victorian Kitchen Garden'.
She talks about the way that the timing was crucial: VKG could not have been made now, for instance. Seminal, it is a special kind of ‘reality television’ and experimental archaeology concoction that needed a real ‘Harry Dodson’ (and not just any old Harry Dodson, either) to work the magic spell.
And what a spell it was, entrancing the viewers and serious gardeners alike (so illustrating the consummate skill of the production team in the process). Not only did the garden-visiting public want to see behind those previously-closed walls, garden owners, and gardeners like Sarah Wain and Jim Buckland, themselves wanted to ‘revitalise’ walled gardens, both to delight visitors and for their own, professional, satisfaction. No-one would seriously countenance a return to the feudal system which spawned them but, in and of themselves, a working walled garden is a glorious thing.
Was VKG responsible for the 1980s resurgence of walled garden and heritage-variety interest? No, not solely anyway. But without VKG would it have happened when it did and to the extent it did? Almost certainly a big fat, ‘no’. The size of the television audience made sure of that.
Some of Sandra’s descriptions are as glorious as the original programme’s; her mouth “watered to taste a cardoon”, and her fingers “itched to pull a hot-bed carrot”, as she watched it all unfolding on the screen.
Incisively, Sandra has hit all the salient ‘buttons’ for me. Like Jim Buckland I, too, am in thrall to that music by Paul Reade. It may be just a touch of Pavlov, as far as I’m concerned, but it seems to fit the series ambience perfectly, and that's what matters. What splendid trivia, too. Sandra describing Harry whistling while strawberry-picking to prevent the fruit being eaten reminded me of him relating his Uncle Fred saying to him, "Sciadopitys Verticillata. If you can remember that when we come back, I'll give you sixpence." Not to mention cats on running-lines, scaring the birds away. Thank you Sandra, thank you.
The 1980s might have been posterity's last chance to make the VKG series but NOW is posterity's last chance to ‘shake hands’ with those who were in the 1980s walled kitchen garden revival vanguard. As one of their number confided to me last year, "I'm in my 80's, now. Catch us while you can." That says it all.