In Praise of Noble Trees
Michael A. Dirr
There are many reasons for praising noble trees, including their durability, adaptability, aesthetics, shade, CO2 sequestration, storm water mitigation, and particulate matter interception. Considerable quantitative data supports the health and economic benefits of noble trees. Sustained emphasis on selection of superior native trees has increased awareness and availability of the rich and diverse genetics of North America. Superior cultivars of Acer, Betula, Carpinus, Catalpa, Gymnocladus, Liriodendron, Nyssa, Quercus, Taxodium, Tilia, and Ulmus have been introduced. For example, Nyssa sylvatica now umbrellas 30 cultivars; 20 years ago there were less than 10. The loss of Fraxinus and ash to the emerald ash borer has fostered a renaissance in tree breeding and selection. This lecture will present the rationales for planting noble trees and discuss the best adapted species and cultivars for North America.
Michael A. Dirr is also a Professor Emeritus of the University of Georgia, where he taught Landscape Plant Taxonomy, Propagation, and Introductory Horticulture. He is the author of The Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, 6th Edition, the major teaching and nursery reference in the US, and Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs. His new book, The Tree Book, was published in May 2019 by Timber Press.
Travelling through the Landscape: Private Carriages and the Country House 1700-1900
For well over two hundred years, the British aristocracy and the landed gentry travelled between their various properties either on horseback or in a carriage. Carriages had a significant influence on the design and planning of country houses and their surrounding landscapes. Now that they are no longer ubiquitous, we can easily forget how essential they were in maintaining the peripatetic lifestyles of their owners. This presentation will assess the practicalities of private transport in England during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It will look at the different carriage types and their associated servants. A brief case study focusing on the journals of Mary Elizabeth Lucy (1803-1889) of Charlecote Park in Warwickshire, will explore the dangers and delights of travel at this time. Charlecote Park still retains its stable block and ten of the family carriages survive, allowing us a rare opportunity to examine material culture alongside written evidence.
Elizabeth Jamieson is an independent researcher, lecturer and art-historian. She is Study Programme Director for the Attingham Trust and was Director of the Attingham Summer School from 2013 to 2017. She is curatorial advisor to the National Trust on horse-drawn carriages and historic stables, is currently writing a book on The British Carriage which will be published in autumn 2020, and is organising a conference on Horses: Art, Politics and Mobility at the University of Cambridge in spring 2021. Elizabeth was 2018/19 Fellow at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.
Pleasurable and Profitable Knowledge: George Washington’s British Farming and Gardening Books
In May 1759, shortly after assuming full management of Mount Vernon, George Washington ordered some English books on both farming and gardening. The long association of gardening with pleasure and farming with profit was being reimagined in England during the eighteenth century. Books on agriculture and horticulture expressed new ways of thinking about and ordering the rural landscape in the pursuit of both pleasure and profit, associated with the harmony or tension between gardening and farming. Similarly, these books offered the pleasure of reading about dirty subjects while keeping one’s hands clean, and the promise of profitable knowledge. This talk will explore the georgic pleasures of reading and gardening, and the pleasures of the profitable intellectual work of the plantation or farm manager. It will examine the contrasting ideas of scientific agriculture and the picturesque held in richly illustrated books that crossed the Atlantic to be read by Virginian planters like George Washington.
James Fisher is a Lecturer in Early Modern British Economic and Social History at the University of Exeter and a Visiting Research Associate at King's College London. He is a historian of early-modern Britain and the Atlantic World. He completed his Ph.D. at King's College London in 2018 on the theme of eighteenth-century British agricultural literature and agrarian capitalism.