Nine Wells House, Great Shelford, Great Shelford, England
Record Id: 5621
This site is NOT open to public.
Brief description of site
Nine Wells House used to have an extensive iris garden, planted by Sir Michael Foster. This was lost during World War II.
Brief history of site
Nine Wells House was established in the mid-19th century as a private residence.
Address: Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire, CB22 5JY
Locality: Great Shelford
Cambridgeshire; South Cambridgeshire; Great Shelford
Historical County: Cambridgeshire
|OS Landranger Map Sheet Number:||154||Grid Ref:||TL466538|
Form of site: park
Purpose of site: Ornamental
Context or principal building: house
Site first created: 1840 to 1870
Main period of development: Mid 19th century
Nine Wells House gardens held the renowned iris collection of Sir Michael Foster.
House Created 1840 to 1870
Nine Wells House is a Victorian house set among trees along Granham's Road to the north of the village overlooking the Cambridge to London railway line, but gives no clues of its horticultural importance at the turn of the 19th century.
It is well known that dons and parsons were concerned with the first steps in the rise of the old simple flags to the present glories of the bearded irises. Sir Michael Foster (1836-1907) was an eminent Professor of Physiology at Cambridge University and also Secretary of the Royal Society. Foster grew over 200 irises collected from all over the world. His notebooks covering his observations from 1878 to 1902, accompanied by his lucid drawings, still exist. He was the first to publish descriptions of some of the species iris.
After collecting more eastern irises he became interested in crossing species to form hybrids. His records were made available to William Rickatson Dykes who wrote a monograph ‘The Green Iris' in 1913. Amos Perry, the north London nurseryman, marketed some of Sir Michael's iris. Foster was known for his quotation ‘Horticulture is a pious occupation' giving as his reason ‘The gods rejoice when they see a good man struggling with adversity'. He was among the first to receive the Victoria Medal of Honour from the RHS. Many good Eremurus Shelford hybrids (Foxtail Lilies) were also raised by Sir Michael Foster at Nine Wells.
Sadly the iris garden was neglected and lost during World War II and is no longer in existence.
Organisations associated with this site
Contributor or Recorder Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust
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