Sitting in her usual writing spot in the dining room, overlooking the garden of her Manchester home, Cranford author Elizabeth Gaskell is in a "doleful mood". The chrysanthemums she has been "nursing up into bloom this past summer were carelessly left out-of-doors this past night & have been frozen to death", she confides in a letter to her friend, the American author and art professor Charles Eliot Norton, in October 1859. It is a mishap that, 155 years later, the gardeners at 84 Plymouth Grove will hope to avoid as they bring Gaskell's flowerbeds back to life. (...)
Elizabeth was known to her family as 'Lily' so it is fitting the garden will include lily of the valley and martagon lilies, while visitors in spring should see a "host of golden daffodils" similar to those made famous by the poet William Wordsworth, who Gaskell met.
Just as Charlotte Brontë noted how
through the open windows in the summer of 1851, so the new garden has been designed with scent in mind.
The Manchester Historic Buildings Trust has restored the Grade II* listed villa, where Still parties will be allowed in. When I visit, Sir James leads the way with a hand-held searchlight. (Ruth Addicott)