CABAHS member Melanie told us about an unusual collection: Exbury Gardens in Hampshire, perhaps best known for the springtime magnificence of its rhododendrons, is also home to a special collection of Nerines.
If you can visit Exbury, the Nerine collection is on view from 4 – 30 October.
As it’s quite a long way to travel, you might instead like to see photographer Lisa Creagh’s website, where she has captured the extraordinary quality of this South African native ‘Jewel lily’ in some stunning images: The Rothschild Nerines. Lisa gives a super description of the collection’s history as well as describing the drama of the Nerines’ lifecycle.
The talk was given by Melanie Aspey, a CABAHS member who has been the Rothschild archivist for 28 years. Providing photographs and documentation from the Rothschild archives, she said the Rothschilds are best known for banking, their art collections, philanthropy and wine, but many of them have also had a keen interest in horticulture reaching back to Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812), the founder of the dynasty, who lived in the Frankfurt Jewish Ghetto.
After the defeat of Napoleon, thanks to their support for the allies, the Rothschild family was able to lobby for the retention of the right for the Jewish Community to buy real estate outside the ghetto. Mayer Amschel’s son, Amschel, considered that building a house would be too ostentatious, but a garden would better serve their needs. Instead he established a garden which he subsequently opened to visitors and for charitable purposes. He spent vast sums on plants, some of which (and Melanie showed one of the plant sale receipts from the archives) he imported from England. Later taken over by the Nazis and bombed by the allies, the garden fell into disrepair but parts have recently been renovated.
Continue reading February 2022: Melanie Aspey on the Rothschild Legacy in Horticulture