Parson Davey’s Gardening and Pixies

The 18th century was the great age of English garden design, an art form allegedly the only true English art. They often included picturesque walks with inspiring quotes to ponder whilst pausing to take in the view. But Davey of course used it as yet another form of his piety. This is more from Small Talk at Wreyland, by Cecil Torr:

“There are stories of his planting the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments in his garden at Wilmead. According to the memoir of hm by his son, he actually did plant (in box) some texts of scripture and his own name and the date. “Into whichever walk any one turned some divine or moral precept met the eye, as the different letters were nearly 6 inches long, and being kept regularly trimmed were easily to be read.” In 1838 one could read ‘know thyself,’ ‘act wisely,’ ‘deal fairly’, ‘live peacably,’ ‘love one another,’ ‘W.Davy 1818.’ There must have been much more, as he called it his “Living Body of Divinity” in contrast to his System….In this neighbourhood a great deal of box-hedging has been destroyed in recent years, the pretext being that it harbours slugs, and they eat up all the flowers in the beds. But slugs seldom eat begonias; and begonias look very gorgeous against the dark green of the box. ..

Most of the old houses here have groups of box-edged beds with narrow paths between them, making up some pattern as a whole. and these are known as Pixey Gardens. As pixies are 12 inches high, these little paths are pretty much the same to them as Devonshire lanes to human beings. I was taught that one could always tell a pixey from a fairy, as fairies wear clothes, and pixies go without; but I have never seen either sort myself.

A very cautious old lady once remarked to me that she had never seen any pixies herself, but she knew so many people who said they had seen pixies, that she would not undertake to say that there were no such things. This puts pixies in pretty much the same position as the Russian soldiers who passed through England at the beginning of he War.

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