Saturday, 20 March 2010

Sepia Saturday: Among the Blooms

This is a photograph of a mother and daughter. The mother, on the left, is Edith Kate Mason - my great grandmother - and she’s getting a tour of my maternal grandparent’s garden by her daughter – my grandmother - Hilda May Gregory.

Edith Kate was born in 1884. Living proof of a romantic liaison between her mother and our mystery man. She married William Butler on 1st December, 1906. William was a Groom and later, a Coachman. He joined the army to fight in the Great War and died in 1924, aged 43.

Edith married again, some years after, to a man called Mason. I know little about him, other than the fact that he was the father of my grandmother’s half-brother, Harold.

Edith died in 1963, after a long battle with cancer.

I suppose this photograph is special to me for a number of reasons, mostly nostalgic. But probably, most importantly, it’s the only one I have of Edith and Hilda together. Also, it shows a fairly good portion of the garden at our family home, ‘The Laurels’, when it was in full-bloom. Aside from a substantial lawn, the garden boasted a 75 foot long greenhouse, a mature fruit orchard, numerous plots given over to vegetables and magnificent, fragrant, flower borders filled with colour. All linked by a winding network of neatly mown paths.

Some of the more identifiable detail here includes, in foreground, a crop of peas. To the immediate right of my grandmother, more of those hurdles! Not included in the shot, to the right of the glass frame, was an old potting shed. It was one of my top hiding places on a plot that measured just short of an acre.

In the left of the photograph, just beyond the little apple tree, is a hand operated pump that pulled water from a well. This was used to irrigate the garden and greenhouse. It was also the source of drinking water and was later supplied to the house by an electric pump. The water was then held in a tank in the kitchen and gravity-fed through a single tap. It tasted so sweet. Nothing like the chlorinated offering we get today.

I imagine mother and daughter would be soon be enjoying a cup tea, made with that very water…as soon as they finished their tour.

One of those borders in full bloom

More Sepia Saturday participants HERE

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges  


  1. Your blog and photos remind me how so many things in life really don't change ...the lovely garden, popular plants and shrubs.....even romantic liasons.
    With life currently changing at such a rapid pace I really enjoy looking at your photos...they offer a 'stillness' and a quiet time of days gone by....thank you!

  2. Jay

    These were blissful years and I count myself so lucky to have had them. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog and I really appreciate your kind comments.

  3. What a wonderful picture and a lovely garden. Some of my favourite photos are like that, where people aren't posing or even facing the camera, but the whole thing speaks volumes.
    It must have been a fantastic place for a boy to play!

  4. Teresa

    Thank you. 'The Laurels' will always have a special place in my heart. So many memories of the place I still think of as home.

  5. Hi Martin

    how I love the name 'the Laurels' it smells of nostalgia...

    this is a lovely story...I notice the popular names of the generations..I have a Hilda and a Harold in my family way back then too..

    now who did all the gardening...the family or hired help...

    My grandfather, a farmer, became a market gardener after service in WWI...what peace it must have been to a returned soldier...

    Happy days

  6. Delwyn

    Yes, those names seem to be of an age, don't they?

    No hired help around the garden. My grandparents maintained it on their own until failing eyesight and Emphysema prevented my grandfather from doing too much, aged 86. Mags and I continued to maintain the garden until the property was sold in 2003.

    The peace you talk of, would have played a large part in healing some of the mental scars, your grandfather suffered, I'm sure.

  7. What a lovely garden and how lucky you and Mags were to have enjoyed it!

  8. Vicki

    It was their pride and joy, and where I spent many happy days of my childhood. When they could no longer manage the garden, it became a labour of love for us.

  9. Wonderful post and it's amazing how much detail you can make out in the black and white image of the garden.

  10. Photos always bring back so many memories, especially older photos. And that border looks absolutely gorgeous. Spring keeps trying to peek out around here, but for some reason, winter won't go away. Ah, well. We wait... Thank you for sharing another lovely post - I do love your Sepia Saturdays.


  11. What an amazing place to grow up, with fruit trees offering instant snacks and the ability to nibble on fresh peas right out of the pod. And a 75 foot long greenhouse -- I can't even imagine that. It must have been a full time job just to care for all the plants on the property.

  12. what will the generations following us use to freshen their memories?
    Portable hard drives are not the same as a yellowing photograph, are they?

  13. I loved that you narrated the photo of the gardens; I am a gardening fan so found this especially interesting. Nice photo of the garden tour, and special to you to have them both together.

  14. Well, I wrote a comment but lost it I think. If you get two that is why. Thanks for stopping by. That is a great photo and I remember when living in the country the first thing one did when visiting was to go look at the garden. Love the SS. Blessings.

  15. I was so impressed with that wonderful photo when I first saw it and after reading you blog it is so special. Thanks for sharing.

  16. The Perfect Photograph For Spring.The Olden-Days Pre-Water Meters!!!
    A Lovely Timeless Photograph.

  17. It looks like there are two greenhouses in this photo. Which one is the 75 ft. long one?
    Such a nice picture. I felt like I was along on the tour of the garden.

  18. I have always found it such a charming and typically British custom to name houses and properties. "The Laurels" suggests a lovely space, indeed.
    I could taste that water as you described it, Martin. (And now I'm going to have to go and make another cup of tea.)

    (I went back and read the "mystery man" post. What a story! Very "Upstairs Downstairs".)

  19. Barry

    I agree. Not bad, considering this was a snapshot, taken when digital was probably no more than a reference to fingers.


    Those borders were my grandmother's pride and joy. Immaculately maintained and a riot of colour. The first signs of spring are showing here. Not long to wait now.


    You don't always appreciate how hard grown-ups work when you're a child. Thinking back, my grandmother was in the garden, off and on, throughout the day. The two of them then worked outside until well into the evening.


    Well, I guess each generation has fond memories, but I'm really glad that I'm the age I am.


    Yes, to have a photograph of mother and daughter together, is precious.


    Yes, indeed. Although, today one might be invited to take a walk around the paving slabs and gravel. Hmmmm...


    So glad you enjoyed the post and photograph. Sepia Saturday is priceless isn't it?


    Thanks. It's a good photograph to look at when I want a break from the madness of today's world.


    The 75' greenhouse is in the background. My grandmother mainly used this for her tomato crops, which she sold locally. Her white hair always turned yellow from the tomato blooms, because she spent so much time in there, tending the plants.


    Yes, I like the idea of house names too. We lived for fifteen happy years in a Cornish cottage called 'Morva'. that was special too.

    Glad you liked the 'mystery man' post. I read your comment and I have to agree.

  20. What a wonderful blog! Love your post. Gardens are near and dear to my heart. Both my husband and I are avid gardeners. Your English gardens are always so beautiful and prolific. I admit to borrowing your styles of gardens everywhere.

    How wonderful that you have so much family history and these lovely photos to back up the information. I think it's true that all families have darker little secretes or little known (or talked about) sides to them. Just serves to make us all so much more interesting.

    Looking forward to future postings.

  21. Martin,

    I loved reading about Edith Kate's mother and the mystery man...and then to see Edith Kate in the garden (and what a garden!)with your grandmother is just a wonderful way to connect the dots.

  22. I love the way you weave together the old and the new. Another Sepia Saturday winner Martin.


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