Online lectures about Reginald Farrer - January 2021

Man, Myth & Mountains, about Reginald Farrer and his World

Yorkshire Gardens Trust in association with TGT present a Series of 4 Lectures


Reginald Farrer (1880-1920) was an alpine plant collector, gardener and garden writer, who single-handedly changed the way the anglophone world writes about garden plants. He was also a travel-writer, rock gardener, novelist, poet and amateur water-colour painter, and became a Buddhist in 1908.

5th Jan @ 7pm: The Power of Farrer - John Page

12th Jan @ 7pm: The Rescue of an Edwardian Rock Garden - Mike Myers

19th Jan @ 7pm: Farrer in the Alps and the Far East - John Page

26th Jan @ 7pm: Plants, Books and Journeys: the world of Reginald Farrer, ‘well-known' Buddhist - Michael Charlesworth

The ticket is for the entire course of 4 sessions or you may purchase a ticket for individual sessions via the link -

Attendees will be sent a Zoom link 2 days prior to the start of the talk, and a link to the recorded session will be sent shortly afterwards.

5th Jan: The Power of Farrer - John Page

This session looks at the background to his rise to legendary status as a rock and alpine gardener and examines what was special about his approach. The content of his various books specifically devoted to rock gardening and his practical experience in the four gardens at Clapham are also studied.

12th Jan: The Rescue of an Edwardian Rock Garden - Mike Myers

Aysgarth Rock Garden is a rare surviving example of the work of alpine and rockery specialists James Backhouse and Son. It was created in the early 20thc for Frank Sayer Graham but fell into decline after his death. Designed as a walk-through grotto its huge limestone blocks, low lintels and narrow winding paths, are complimented by cascading water, and exotic plants. It was listed in 1988 and Mike was asked to advise and assist with its restoration in 2002.

19th Jan: Farrer in the Alps and the Far East - John Page

This session looks at his plant and seed collecting expeditions, together with his perilous adventures and eventual death in the field. Farrer's books based on these trips, embellished with examples of his botanical illustrations and enlivened with photographs taken at the time, are also discussed.

26th Jan: Plants, Books and Journeys: the world of Reginald Farrer, ‘well-known' Buddhist - Michael Charlesworth

This talk will trace the energy of Buddhist thought in varied works by Farrer. It will look particularly at his account of temples and ruined cities, In Old Ceylon (1908), and the extraordinary volume of war propaganda that he wrote in 1917-18 while employed at John Buchan's Department of Information, The talk will also consider his poetry and of his travel writing.

Dr. John Page is a linguist by profession but an Alpine plant enthusiast and expert at heart. John studied Modern Languages at King's College, Cambridge, learnt Russian during his time in the Army and did his PhD in Politics. For many years, he headed up the School of Foreign Languages at the former Birmingham City University. His strategic placement of Business Course students with European companies meant he was able to enjoy many of the best Botanic Gardens when he visited his students! John has been an active member of the Alpine Garden Society since 1975 and was Secretary of the Birmingham group for 17 years. He is the AGS Online Correspondent for the History of Rock and Alpine Gardening and is an expert on the life and times of Reginald Farrer. John is on the RHS Bulb Committee and contributes to the RHS Yearbook Narcissus, Snowdrops and Tulips. He is the section editor for Tulips. John has written numerous articles and is a widely-travelled plant hunter and botaniser from the Rockies to Kazakhstan.

Mike Myers has had a long association with all things horticultural in the North of England, and the Harrogate area in particular. He started out as a volunteer gardener at Harlow Carr and then pursued his studies at Askham Bryan College, Leeds, and Sheffield Universities. He had a short exile in Kent to study Mycorrhizals for his Master's degree. He ran his own garden design business in Harrogate for many years alongside part-time teaching and specialist plant sales. Mike is now Head of Horticulture at Craven College in Skipton where he runs a wide range of courses for both school-leavers and adults. Mike has been a member of the Alpine Society and Hardy Plant Society for many years. He has been growing alpines since he was a teenager and is a keen and well-travelled botaniser of alpines in the wild. He has held the National Collections at various times of Anemone nemorosa, Hepaticas and Primula marginata. Mike has been collecting and growing Snowdrops for over 33 years and has over 300 varieties growing in his garden. He discovered Galanthus plicatum 'E.A.Bowles' growing at Myddleton House in 2002. Mike was asked to advise and assist with the restoration of the Aysgarth Edwardian Rock Garden in 2002.

Michael Charlesworth is professor of art history, University of Texas at Austin. An authority on landscape and the history of gardens, on photography until 1918, and on landscape drawing and painting, he is the author of Derek Jarman (Reaktion Books, 2011), Landscape and Vision in Nineteenth Century Britain and France (Ashgate, 2008), The Gothic Revival 1720-1870 (3 Vols, 2002); and The English Garden (3 Vols., 1993). His study of Farrer, The Modern Culture of Reginald Farrer: Landscape, Literature, and Buddhism, which was published in 2018, is the first full-length study of his life and work and explores the connection between British modernism and Buddhism.

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