The Victorian Kitchen Garden – BBC TV 1987
10 minutes from the Introduction to Victorian Kitchen Garden.
The Victorian Kitchen Garden
The Victorian Kitchen Garden was a 13-part television series produced in 1987 for BBC Two (Must see. Mike). It recreated a kitchen garden of the Victorian era at Chilton Foliat in Wiltshire. The presenter was the horticultural lecturer, Peter Thoday, the master gardener was Harry Dodson.
Harry James Dodson (1919 – 2005) was an English gardener who became a celebrity as a result of the BBC television documentary series, which featured his professional expertise and his reminiscences.
In 1947 he was appointed head gardener at Chilton Foliat, growing flowers and vegetables for the household in an extensive walled garden, with heated greenhouses and 200 yards of cloches. By 1967, the cost of maintaining the garden had become too high for its owner. He made it over to Dodson, who ran it as a commercial nursery.
The series began in the largely derelict walled garden at Chilton on a freezing January morning and followed Harry and his assistant Alison as they recreated the working kitchen garden.
The work involved many repairs from replanting the Box (Buxus) edging and replacing the gravel walks to reglazing the cold-frames and repairing the magnificent Victorian wood-framed, brick-based glass-houses. The team were determined to use plants that the Victorian head gardener would have had available, so there were many hours of scouring old and modern catalogues and many disappointments. But the plants were found eventually. And then there were the tools and techniques, and this was where Harry came into his own. He had used many of both and could produce many of the tools from various cobwebbed corners of the service buildings.
January in the Kitchen Garden.
Harry Dodson Obiituary
Harry James Dodson, gardener: born Byfleet, Surrey 11 September 1919; married; died Chilton Foliat, Wiltshire 25 July 2005.
When England’s great houses and gardens began to disappear towards the middle of the 20th century, the career structure of their indoor and outdoor servants crumbled with them. Some head gardeners went into the horticultural industry or public parks, others took on jobbing work, while a fortunate few, such as Fred Streeter and Percy Thrower, found their niche on radio and television.
It was not until Harry Dodson was in his mid-sixties that he, too, became a media personality. In 1947, aged only 28, he had been appointed head gardener at Chilton Foliat, on the Berkshire/ Wiltshire border, growing flowers and vegetables for the household in an extensive walled garden, with heated greenhouses and 200 yards of cloches (which he later increased to 400 yards). But, by 1967, the cost of maintaining the garden had become too high for its owner, Lt-Col John Ward. He made it over to Dodson, who ran it as a commercial nursery.