About a month ago the leading flag on the ‘flag counter’ on my blog finally tipped from the Union Jack to the Stars and Stripes. So perhaps this is a good moment to reflect on Anglo-American relations in the garden. With the recent visit of Mr. Obama (who we Europeans by the way all adore) there has been yet another spate of politicians and commentators discussing the so-called ‘Special Relationship’. There certainly is one in gardening, and like the political version, it is complex, constantly changing, and sometimes controversial.
During my first few visits to the US (1990s, early 2000s) the special relationship resembled nothing more than a rather quaint colonial hangover. Americans may have flung the tea into Boston harbour in 1773, and then to add insult to injury dropped the ‘u’ from harbour, but so many gardeners seemed to be still so stuck to the English garden as a model. Grande-dames of the UK garden world like Penelope Hobhouse and Rosemary Verey sold vast piles of books to the US. The latter (who remembers her now?) spent Christmas one year with Ross Perot (yes, really, and who remembers him now?)