Harrington: Fanny Wilkinson – green fingers, blue plaque

Friday, 3rd June

Fanny Wilkinson

Pioneer landscaper Fanny Wilkinson

SURELY we’ve all walked past a blue plaque in London every now and then and wondered how some of the Professor Cleverclogs who are honoured by the scheme got through the process.

Queen Victoria’s dentist, the founder of Tesco and of course Luke Howard – the namer of clouds – have all got one at their former abodes.

The similarity which ties most of them together, be they genuinely famous or not, is that so often they are men.

A little belatedly, English Heritage has identified this lopsided mismatch and has embarked on efforts to see more women honoured with its azure ceramics.

And next week it will finally get round to Fanny Wilkinson. Hooray!

Paddington Square Gardens. Photo: Philafrenzy

Fanny was the first professional female landscape gardener in the UK and has a legacy that benefits us all today. So many of the public spaces we may take for granted were essentially designed by her.

Paddington Square Gardens is one of my favourites, but you can find her work elsewhere in Westminster and many examples in east London too. More than 70 in total, giving spaces to those with little outdoor room.

When it comes to suitable nominations for the blue plaques, the only question with Fanny is: what took them so long?

Well done to the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association for pushing for it to get erected.

The unveiling ceremony will be at her former home in Shaftesbury Avenue next week.

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