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Published: 24 October 2020

By Andy Ross

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The Secret Garden

During the pandemic lots of people have rediscovered gardens and nature. 

We are lucky to have lots of green space that can be gardened around us in London, and in Shetland there are the wide-open spaces with wildlife right on our doorstep. This week, friends up in the islands have been watching orca swim by - if you want to find out about some of the ocean life in Shetland have a look at this website - and here we have been seeing evidence of foxes in the garden, digging for worms and hiding stashes of food for the future. Now that we are in the autumnal slow-down, it is time to think about next summer, plant bulbs for the Spring, tidy-up the beds and get the plants that will grow and flower over the winter into the ground. 

Yesterday I went to Kew Gardens with a friend. Kew is a real favourite, filled with plants and trees from across the globe, and this season it is looking spectacular. In the autumn light the trees glow with colour. In the art gallery an exhibition about Australia's Botany Bay, present-day Sydney, shows botanical illustrations alongside their real-life counterparts that were collected 250 years ago and contemporary reinterpretations of silver leaf prints by Jan Hendrix. There is also a tapestry; an interpretation of a drawing by the artist. Kew is definitely a place to inspire. 

It is a coincidence that The Secret Garden is on the telly this morning. It is the latest incarnation of the 1911 book by Frances Hodgson Burnett and has wonderful settings, both interior and exterior. The costumes though, are simply spectacular. What a lot of fun Michele Clapton must have had, designing and creating these, along with embroiderer Michele Carragher, both known for their work on the Game of Thrones series. 

Michele Clapton was inspired by a youth movement in the 1920s: the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift. The adherents to this philosophy for life wore magical costumes, practised mysterious rituals and promoted what they saw as the natural order of things. Although the ideas behind the group are somewhat uncomfortable today, hindsight being a wonderful thing, it was a movement very much of its time. You can read more about it here and see some of the costumes on the page too. 

In these strange days thank goodness for gardens!