The many faces of Edward Augustus Bowles

eab old copy

Thanks to the encouragement of some of you, I have been scanning like a maniac so I can dump slides that will never be of any use. It is like a stroll down memory lane, looking at slides I took in previous lives. One of these was a very happy time when I was in charge of Myddelton House, the former home of the famous amateur horticulturist E A Bowles. The restoration, at the time, was a rather amateur affair too and I am glad to say that the whole place is more professionally run now. But it was a good time, getting the process started.

The name of EAB may not be familiar to you but I am sure you will have heard of, or even grown, ‘Bowles’ Mauve’ wallflower, even though I had it on good authority that he never grew it. But there are lots of other plants that he gave to gardens. The best know images of him are the one above and the one below, in the garden with his two-pronged fork.

eab with dog copy

And here is is with his gardener Mr Howard in the rock garden.

eab with howard on rock garden copy

He was always getting into trouble for gardening in his best clothes.

eab weeding copy

And he likes to spend early summer in the Alps (here second from right).

eab plant collecting alps copy

And as a student at Cambridge he spent a lot of time bug collecting in the Fens.

eab cambs copy

And he got very excited at the delivery of a package of new plants.

eab opening pacel from jerusalem copy

I don’t think he is in this photo – it is of the cricket team, on the grass at the back of the house.

myddelton cricket team copy

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11 Comments on “The many faces of Edward Augustus Bowles”

  1. derrickjknight
    August 12, 2016 at 11:09 am #

    A priceless record, Geoff. Keep scanning

  2. digwithdorris
    August 12, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

    Great pictures of his life. I think perhaps there is a crocus that has the Bowles name?

    • thebikinggardener
      August 13, 2016 at 2:23 pm #

      There is. He was known as the crocus king and he wrote a book about them. He named one after a relative ‘E P Bowles’ (eustace parker bowles – yes, of royal fame) and Van Tubergen named one after him – ‘E A Bowles’

  3. Kathy Larson
    August 13, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

    One of my favorite garden writers!I have,and love,his three “My Garden…” books,his “Handbook of Crocus and Colchicum”,and Mea Allen’s book.He wrote so directly,and lived such a perfect gardener’s life.That you worked to restore his garden is a fine thing.

    • thebikinggardener
      August 13, 2016 at 3:49 pm #

      Thank you. Now that I have scanned images and rediscovered things I will post some more. I agree that his writing is great to read and yes, he did have a pretty good life. Not without problems of course. Do you know about the Crispian row that involved Ellen willmot? if not I could post about that 🙂 I did go to Mea allen’s home too which was interesting.

  4. Kathy Larson
    August 13, 2016 at 5:08 pm #

    I’ve only heard it referred to-do write about it.

  5. Mary Tobin
    August 13, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    He was also a well known galanthophile. It must have been wonderful to have worked there. We grow Galanthus ‘E. A. Bowles and Galanthus ‘Bowles Large Form’.

  6. Chloris
    August 14, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    What a fascinating garden to work in. I have all his books and love them. Nowadays there would be raised eyebrows about the way he loved to have all those little boys in the garden.

    • thebikinggardener
      August 14, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

      That is very true. What is without doubt is that he was very philanthropic – he used the fee from his first book in the trilogy to pay for new pews in the local church.


  1. Iris A-Z | The Biking Gardener - January 29, 2022

    […] involvement with iris is now a long one. It really began when I was Head Gardener at Myddelton House (Enfield, Middlesex). When I began the restoration of the garden some areas had been recently and […]

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