Monday, 4 February 2013

Tweed Pig Pin-Up - Bertie Bainbridge

























Bertie Bainbridge - Horticulturalist & Royal Botanist

Mrs T and I first spotted our latest pin-up whilst watching a TV documentary on the National Trust's Hidcote Manor. A charming programme, it described the history of its Arts and Crafts garden and introduced us to some of the people who help to maintain it. One of the gardeners was just too natty to ignore. The man was Bertie Bainbridge.

I carefully placed my cocoa down on to its coaster and turned slowly to Mrs T. "This man has to be a pin-up," I declared. Mrs T was thinking exactly the same thing (but continued to drink her cocoa - no sense of the dramatic). We're very glad that Bertie agreed.

Since the programme was aired, Bertie has moved on from Hidcote and is now a gardener at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. As you can see from the photo above, plants loom large in Bertie's life. You can read more about Bertie at Kew here.

About the Photo

Bertie explains:

"I moved up to town from the country in September to undertake the Kew Diploma, a three year degree in horticulture that is currently celebrating its 50th year. Previously I was living and working amongst the rolling Cotswold hills, at the beautiful Hidcote Manor Garden in Gloucestershire. There I trained as a gardener for three years, and am probably most well-known for donning tweeds and trilby to appear as Hidcote’s creator, Major Lawrence Johnston, in the recent BBC documentary about the garden.

"The uniform issued to gardeners these days is unfortunately a far cry from the estate tweeds and tough brogues of yesteryear, and one must endure shoddy polyester polo shirts and fleeces throughout the working day. Happily though, outside of work, I prefer a more classic and well-made mode of dress, taking my inspiration from the Edwardian era and early 1900s. I am utterly obsessed by the glory days of yore, and this influences everything from the style of gardens I prefer to the books that I read. Stepping into a well-pressed suit and polished shoes sadly is not the same as stepping into a time machine, but nevertheless it satisfies my nostalgia and injects a bit of colour into the world.

"The photograph was taken in the Palm House at Kew, a hulk of Victorian iron and glass built in the 1800s that is one of my favourite places in the garden. The plants housed inside are incredible, and it is an excellent place to stroll around on Sundays before retreating to one of the four fine hostelries on Kew Green. 


"The suit was made by Bookster in Herefordshire, a lightweight two-piece in the Cairn tweed. I have had three suits made by them to date, and the quality and service is magnificent. The brogues are from Herring Shoes, a brown pair of Loakes in grain leather. Shirt, tie, handkerchief and braces were purchased at Darcy Clothing, Woods of Shropshire and Bromleys. These three splendid establishments provide all of the accessories and accoutrements required to complete an outfit. Mr. Wax supplies my moustache wax."

So next time you're strolling around Kew and a well-groomed man steps out of the shrubbery, it may well be our dear friend Bertie.

Tweedy's Thought: Polyester polo shirts and fleeces, indeed. We might expect that at Asda, but surely the bigwigs at Kew can show more aesthetic sensitivity to staff and visitors? Two words on decent workwear: Old Town.

Memories of Hidcote

In case you haven't seen the documentary on Hidcote, here are a few snaps including Bertie's appearance and a photograph of Major Lawrence Johnston.

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