Tea for Two & Two for Tea

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A tea garden, also know as a “pleasure’ garden” (not to be confused with ‘the garden of earthy delights’ or ‘midnight in the garden of good and evil’) was a particular type of lawn and horticulture that flourished in the 18th century. Tea gardens were actually designed specifically for the drinking of tea, strolling, and conversation. The two most famous tea gardens left in the UK (this practice lost its luster after World War II) are The Orchard in Grantchester near Cambridge, and Yorkshire Stingo in Marylebone, London. Tea gardens were public recreational parks that became extremely popular during the Victorian era, these are not to be confused with Roman or Japanese tea gardens which have their own unique traditions and chosen shrubs. Personally, I like my tea with some ornate topiaries ala the gardens of Versailles.

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In America all students are taught of the revolt of the Boston Tea Party, however taxation on teas seems to have been causing problems since time immemorial (or at least since the advent of government). The herb plants that are found in most tea gardens have a connection to the past. When the British government taxed tea for export to the New World, the colonists turned to herbs to make tea. To this day, tea is the post popular drink in the world! Common plants for one’s tea garden include mint, bergamot, lemon balm, rosemary, sage, hyssop, agrimony, alfalfa, and geraniums (really a tea garden’s plants should be ANY shrub, bush, weed, or herb that can be used in the creation of herbal teas and remedies).

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A tea garden’s colors are the perfect palette for a spring themed room – verdant greens, gentle pinks, ecru flower petals, and soft lavenders delight a viewer by transporting one to the bygone days of prudish and proper etiquette. Oh to live in a faded and rustic pastoral afternoon!

Bring the English country garden into your home with rose-patterned fabric and wallpaper in pastel shades. Everything should be dainty, dusty, and just a bit distressed! From the May 2010 issue of Homes and Antiques.

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A south-facing garden, divided into distinct zones with the help of a various flower beds and outdoor buildings, a vegetable garden and ornamental hedges. Late-summer perennials fill the borders of this cottage garden with splashes of pretty color – Striking lavander-blues, silvery sedum, pink Japanese anemones and tall Verbena bonariensis are all in the mix. Photograph by Mark Bolton. Garden in Fittleworth, West Sussex. Image found in House to Home, HERE.

Suzanne Hansen & Mike Ofeldt of She Wanders.

Image via Glorious Treats.

Oh let me catch my (baby’s) breath! The three images above via Ruffled.

Photos by Dan DeLong and Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures, images found HERE.

My mother used to read me a poem, a rather delicate yet biting condemnation of war, that takes place in a pleasure garden:

Patterns from Men, Women, and Ghosts by Amy Lowell
(Except below, read the complete poem HERE and have a Kleenex handy).
I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden paths.
My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.
And the plashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles
on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover,
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon —
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade….

2 responses »

  1. I loved that post accompanied by that magnificent poem!

    Reply

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