“You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch.” Gandalf – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
I only had two hours in the Shire of Hobbiton and I was surprised to learn Hobbits are amazing gardeners. At the crossroads of Tuck Borough and East and West Farthing is a wonderful garden growing all manner of vegetables to feed the hobbits and allow for great feasts beneath the Party Tree in the Party Field. It was just early spring, but there were leeks, cabbages, potatoes and fennel bursting into life. And the first strawberries of the season that would no doubt be eaten with cream, were fattening up.
It was such a delightful place to visit and it appeared as it did in the movies, as though the hobbit residents had all just departed for a day trip into our world, leaving their tools where they lay, mid task, games unplayed and drinks undrunk.
Each little hobbit hole has its own feel and character that imparted the personality of the inhabitant. There were bakers, cheesemakers, beekeepers, woodsmen, and fishermen, all identified by the tools of their trade and the produce they create. But what drew my eye above the brightly coloured small round doors and quaint round windows were the gardens. Each hobbit hole was embellished with flowers and vegetables alike and even this early in the season, there was colour and life, the fragrance of jasmine filled the air and beneath the trees with their burgeoning blossoms, bluebells danced in the breeze.
Hobbiton is a gardener’s delight, with botanical wonders at every turn. Although all is not as it seems. The old oak tree above the Baggins residence of Bag End is not actually real. For The Lord of the Rings an old tree was cut down and brought to the set. Artificial leaves were imported from Taiwan and individually wired to the tree. However, for the Hobbit movie they replaced the old tree with a more permanent structure of steel and silicon and fake leaves. The plum trees the young hobbits climb are actually apple trees, where the fruit and leaves were stripped and replaced with more plum-esk features. All of this attention to detail for a village that features in two epic trilogies for less than 15 minutes across the 6 movies!
As we passed the working water wheel we were welcomed into the Green Dragon and invited to indulge in an ale, cider or ginger beer served in blue pottery mugs. The feeling inside is familiar, like we’d visited somehow before and in the din and busyness with our fellow travellers, it was easy to imagine the place filled with joyous hobbits celebrating and revelling.
It was as if they knew I was coming. The tour ended as it began – with the garden, and I was able linger for a few moments more among the vegetables growing there. Soon my garden will flourish with the same vigour, once the rain stops.
If you ever happen to be down under, in Middle Earth, a trip to Hobbiton is well worth it. The attention to every last detail will amaze you, as will the splendour of the gardens.
Come again soon – my garden is a modest wee thing by comparison.
Sarah the Gardener : o)