Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Plant Theatres and Wikipedia

click photo to enlarge
I remember reading somewhere, a while ago, that it's possible to download all of Wikipedia (minus the images). Apparently it comes to about 10 gigabytes of data. That piece of information came in the context of an article about schools in parts of the world where there is no internet access. It seems some are putting the file on a hard drive that pupils at workstations around the school can access. It sounds like a good idea.

I've been impressed by Wikipedia since its inception. I like the idea that underpins the website - that people with an interest or knowledge of a subject can write an article about it and that others can edit it: that there are certain standards against which the articles are measured, yet incomplete articles can be posted and are marked as such: and that the project manages to be both successful and accurate without the involvement of a traditional publisher, university or established producer of encyclopedias. There are a few people who remain sniffy about its accuracy, the range of subjects it covers, etc, but the fact is it compares very well with commercial offerings on every count and is far more extensive than any other encyclopedia. I rarely go to Wikipedia in search of information about a subject and fail to find something useful.

But, it happened the other day! I wanted to find out a little more about Plant Theatres and I discovered that there is no Wikipedia article on the subject nor are there references to plant theatres in other articles - at least not to the kind of plant theatre that I had in mind. Today's photograph is one that I took in Bridge End Gardens, Saffron Walden, Essex. It shows a large, outdoor plant theatre. Such a device is invariably a tiered arrangement of shelves, often, as here, in a frame or "proscenium arch", designed to show off pot plants. They were popular in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in a number of European countries and were particularly used to display Primula auriculas. Smaller examples were used indoors or in glasshouses. The plant theatre shown is a larger version, outdoors in a walled garden and holds a variety of plants that are arranged, you will notice, symmetrically.

The web is a wonderful thing and has a happy knack of producing what people want. I will be interested to discover whether my blog post triggers a Wikipedia article about plant theatres because it appears that one is needed. I'll check periodically to find out.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 32mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On