Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Abbotsford Ivy

A few weeks ago Grace Church in Nyack had a plant sale where they sold cuttings of Abbotsford Ivy. Here’s how it looks in the church courtyard. It looks great, doesn’t it? It should! It’s been growing there for 150 years!

Of course I couldn’t pass up a chance to have a real piece of history in my garden, clipped from a clip from a clip of the original specimen!

An info card came along with the cutting:
“This ivy is a direct descendent of ivy grown by Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford, his home in Scotland.
(Photo courtesy of Gardenvisit.com)

He gave a cutting of it to his friend and fellow author, Washignton Irving, to take to his home in the Hudson Valley, known as Sunnyside. Irving in turn presented a cutting to Reverend Franklin Babbitt, first rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack. Irving was warden of Christ Church, Tarrytown, when young Babbitt was the assistant rector, and they became fast friends. When Babbitt shared his dream of founding a parish in Nyack, Irving- shortly before his death in 1859 – gave him ivy for what was to become the Memorial Garden of Grace Church.”

Sir Scott must have been generous with his ivy cuttings because there's also record of Abbotsford Ivy being planted in the garden of Secretary William H. Seward in Auburn, NY after his visit to Scotland in 1836. (photo courtesy of NYSparks.com)

In Clyde Edgerton’s wonderful book “The Floatplane Notebooks," a wisteria vine watches the growth of several generations of a 20th century Southern family, acting as one of the narrators of the story. I love the idea of an old vining plant bearing witness to a family saga. Old Abbotsford is now planted here in four places in the Pace e Bene garden. I hope that it will be happy there and start climbing my tree

Do you have any very old or historic plants or cuttings in your garden?


our friend Ben said...

Wow, Jen, I'd never seen Abbotsford and had no idea it was so imposing. And those borders! Gasp. I have, however, often wondered if the expression "Great scott!" had its origins in a reference to Sir Walter, since in his day he loomed so large in the literary landscape. Love the ivy card, too. I hope your cuttings grow and thrive!

Anonymous said...

What a great back story, Jen! The photos of Abbotsford are beautiful! Washington Irving is one of my favorites, I love Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle! The ivy will look great in the pace e bene garden.

Joanne said...

I love the idea of a story unfolding beneath the watchful garden eye. I don't have any historic plants or cuttings, but wish I did. My grandmother was a farmer at heart from back in the old country, and here in the States, wherever she lived her whole, entire property was transformed into beautiful gardens. She's been gone a long time now, but it would've been wonderful if somehow, through my mother maybe, to have a plant descending from her garden.

Brigit said...

How stunning is that castle and garden. Good luck with your ivy. Our local primary school built in 1860 something, has trees planted by people my age when they went to school there, and we planted an apricot tree there when my daughter left primary school. So history in the making. By the way while my daughter was there the school consisted of, at most 26 children a principal and one other teacher. Very special little place.

Anonymous said...

Nice post!

tina said...

I think the history behind plants is amazing. Truly amazing. Ivy is very nice-but only in other gardens. I've never planted it before. I do like it growing on all the old universities. Those estate houses are beautiful!

I am on vacation this week but wanted to respond on the pool. Our pool is also cut into a hill. The end toward you is about 1-2 feet underground. We put a perforated drain pipe all the way around the pool to drain off excess water, than backfilled right up to the pool. Most folks don't do this but I thought keeping a ditch, in effect, around the upside of the pool would not be cool. The drain pipe has worked wonderfully! No excess water at all and we can plant where we want and not worry about falling in a hole. When we changed out the liner last spring, the frame of the pool was fine (at least where we could see on the inside). It is an option to backfill that. I've seen pools where they leave a trench all the way around too, but did not like it and couldn't see the harm. Just remember to put in a drain pipe if you do backfill. ON the low end of the pool where the drain pipe is above ground level, I backfilled behind it with soil and on top of the drainpipe moss now grows. It is quite pretty. I should've showed it on today's post. Sorry the long comment. I tried to email but the yahoo messenger did not work. Thanks for your very nice comments. Gotta get back to vacation now:) ttly

Karen said...

What a cool story! Thanks for doing all that research. It's like you got a plant from SWS, even if indirectly! I am scared of ivy, it seems to go everywhere. But maybe it will behave for you. We have a cedar tree that is almost 100 yrs. old, it almost died a year ago when the neighbors chopped its roots to build a patio, but knock wood it seems to be hanging in there at least for now. My mom has a few irises left from her aunts' place, and peonies from them as well that are probably 50 yr.s old or older!

JGH said...

Ben, if anyone can find out the origin of the expression "Great Scott" it would be you. A future almanac post, perhaps?

Lzyjo - if you're ever in the area, we could take a trip to Sunnyside where Irving lived!

Joanne, I remember picking blackberries at my grandmother's home in Ohio. I would love to have one of those plants in my garden now.

Brigit - sounds like a special little school. How cool that they may still be eating fruit from that apricot tree!

Thanks Anon!

Tina, thanks so much for the pool tips. I'm not sure if we need a drainage pipe. We're up so high on a rocky hill that there's really only one direction for it to go. We take the pool down at the end of the summer, so it would be nice to have something attractive there to look at when the pool is gone.

Karen, glad your old cedar tree is hanging in there. How nice that your mom can remember her aunt with flowers that came from her!

new york city garden said...

I take a plant or cutting from as many landscapes as I connect with. Field yarrow from here, lavender from there.... So only personal history.

How are your broccoli doing. Mine bolted last weekend, but I was not there to chase it!