Extraordinary things you can happen upon … Miss Willmott’s ghost being one of them … it is actually Eryngium Giganteum ‘Silver Ghost’ (per the RHS site) … isn’t it pretty … prickly, but pretty …
|my iphone photo|
The Ghost was on display at Abkhazi Gardens as a plant of interest with the note about Miss Willmott’s ghost – quite honestly wouldn’t you have been quizzy about this apparition let alone its owner …
|A rough photo (in difficult light) of the|
note appending the examples of the
3 plants on show at Abkhazi Gardens
Equally Ellen Willmott (1858 – 1934) is one of those real life characters of whom stories could be made … I’ve included some links … but aged 7 she found a cheque for one thousand pounds from her rich godmother … these sorts of cheques continued on, until in 1890, when she and her sister shared the inherited fortune (the equivalent of five million pounds each).
Both the Willmott parents were wealthy and doted on their daughters – Ellen’s sister, Ada sadly died, but Rose survived – marrying into the aristocratic Berkeley family, this branch lived at Spetchley Park, just outside Worcester … where Ellen extended her gardening influence …
… but back to the 7 year old Ellie and the family with a love of beautiful things … and an obvious candidate for a flourishing garden. Her father moved them out to Warley Place, 24 miles commuting distance from Frederick Wilmott’s city life, bought another 22 acres over the road, built a cottage for the girls and life continued on!
|Warley Place as painted by|
Ellie, a passionate horticulturist, who became an influential member of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), was said to have cultivated more than 100,000 plants, sponsored expeditions to discover new species … and has more than 60 plants named after her.
She inherited the 33 acres of Warley Place after her father’s death in 1892, and bought two more properties in France and Italy … she loved her plants and her life … and was a prodigious spender.
|Rosa Willmottiae -|
Ellen was a rose fundi
Due to her total immersion in all realms of horticulture she was very influential at the RHS, became a member of the Linnaean Society of London … was accorded all kinds of awards by organisations in Britain, France and Italy.
She was highly talented playing the violin and piano … she owned a Stradivarius … Queen Alexandra (Edward VII’s wife) and various princesses visited Ellen and Warley for musical soirees or to view the estate … yet ‘my plants and my gardens come before anything in life … when I can no longer plant, as it is too dark, I read or write about them’ …
|Spetchley Park Hall|
Rose’s husband’s property Spetchley Park, near Worcester, looks like a wonderful place to visit … Edward Elgar was a regular visitor … they are reviving the gardens to their historical and horticultural best …
|Ellen and Rose as children|
… including the carriages, a melon yard, a horse pool, a root cellar and all the essentials of a modernised country mansion for the touristy visitors …
Sadly her own prodigious spending came home to roost – despite the fortunes – she had to sell her overseas properties, personal effects and then when the time came her death duties were settled by selling Warley Place.
|Abkhazi Gardens - painted by Kmit,|
see my post on Clearwater Studio
It had been neglected … and is now a nature reserve after the house had been demolished. A sad end … but perhaps fitting to have a Silver Ghost appearing around the world in various gardens that Miss Willmott had wandered through quietly dropping seeds as she went.
The Essay:Miss Willmott’s Ghost … by Jane Brown appeared in The Independent in 1999 … about various gardeners …
Oxonian Gardener - article on Ellen Willmott
SpetchleyPark in Wikipedia
SpetchleyPark Gardens – the official website
Abkhazi Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia - my post
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