|3:02:38 PM - Mon, Apr 25th 2022
|Irish gardening hot-head who made the English go wild
You might not have heard of William Robinson but the chances are he's had an impact on how you view the world.
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When you imagine a beautiful cottage garden, with wild roses and drifts of colour - the sort of thing you'd see on greeting cards or old-fashioned chocolate boxes - well, that style is pure Robinson.
But while he advocated a more natural, relaxed approach to gardening he was no shrinking violet.
This Irishman, from relatively humble beginnings, challenged Victorian formality head on, while at the same time ingratiating himself with the great and the good.
He overcame class boundaries, travelled extensively and his published works are still a reference for gardeners, the world over, today.
Unearthing his origins
William Robinson was born in Ireland in July 1838, but his exact birthplace has been a matter of some debate.
Despite writing for a living, he never mentioned his earliest years. Some have suggested he was from County Down but Judith Nesbitt, who is currently writing a book on Robinson, said that recent census information suggested otherwise.
"There are a lot of contested facts about his life... in the 1921 census, which has just come to light, we now know that he says he was born in Queen's county - now County Laois.
"He didn't talk about his parents. His family story was never part of his persona and that did lead to rumours and speculation. People were speculating on how this garden boy from such humble beginnings could come to be lord of the manor of Gravetye."