This week I was delighted to attend a special Commonwealth & Gurkha Garden reception at St George’s Garrison Church in Woolwich. The event was to progress the funding and plans for a Commonwealth garden designed by Juliet Sargeant, and was also attended by their patron, HRH The Duke of Gloucester.
We were blessed with a lovely sunny day and entertained with music during the afternoon tea. After the speeches I was very interested to be shown around the garden site by Juliet (who is a multiple Chelsea Gold Medal winner, including this year’s Blue Peter garden with the theme “Don’t treat soil like dirt” and a fabulous green roof) https://www.julietsargeant.com/cfs/
In a fit of New Year zeal, we started (note that I said ‘started’) a bit of a clear-up of what for want of a better word you might call ‘stuff’. Out of this stuff emerged some old family photographs, reminding me that I should organise them a bit better and finally get around to finding out more about the people featured in them, adding to sometimes unreliable family tales. Those with subscriptions to Ancestry or other genealogical databases will know immediately what’s coming: I was soon addicted.
What might this sorry story have to do with horticulture? Bear with me, please.
Amongst the stuff were box-loads of index cards recording research material that we had produced literally decades ago in pre-Google times. The purpose of the research was to compile a database of British and Irish Journalists – at least that task was accomplished and published!- and my Ancestry addiction offered the chance to do a bit of editing.
Here we reach the point of this post. Among the information gleaned from the records of the Society of Women Journalists at the British Library and other sources was a biographical sketch of Helen Colt, a fellow of the RHS. In the 1911 census Helen Ann Mary Colt, of 4 Priory Court Mansions, Mazenod Avenue, West Hampstead, gave her occupation as ‘jobbing gardener’. Indeed the project had already noted one of her appearances in print on the subject:
Woman’s Platform, interviewed on jobbing gardening as a career for women, March 1912.