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The Famous Five to give children a summer

of adventure at Royal Horticultural Society Gardens
by RHS
March 14, 2017

2017 marks 75 years since the very first book was published in Enid Blyton’s best-loved The Famous Five series. To celebrate the occasion the Royal Horticultural Society has teamed up with Enid Blyton Entertainment and Hodder Children’s Books to offer a range of exciting events and activities across the four Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Gardens this summer.

RHS Gardens Wisley in Surrey, Rosemoor in Devon, Hyde Hall in Essex and Harlow Carr in Harrogate are running a lively programme of events and activities inspired by The Famous Five’s values - friendship, heroism, adventure, outdoors and daring. Each garden is creating a ‘Five Go on a Garden Adventure’ trail and all four gardens will hold a mass picnic party on 11 August to celebrate Enid Blyton’s 120th birthday.

For children across the generations, Enid Blyton has inspired a love for flowers, plants, gardens and the outdoors through her descriptive powers, and particularly through the adventures of her five famous characters, Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog. From camping on hillsides to exploring streams, from enjoying tasty picnics to discovering caves, many of The Famous Five’s adventures are firmly rooted in the great outdoors.

Enid had an abiding love and deep knowledge of flora and fauna. She wrote to friends of her pleasure at creating her first garden at Elfin Cottage, which included a wild, raised garden in one corner, shrubs and beds of old-fashioned flowers like lupins, pansies, hollyhocks and roses, an area for fruit and vegetables and a round pond for water lilies. Inspired by this, lovely descriptions of trees, flowers and birdsong occur even in the midst of her 21 The Famous Five adventures.

Liz Thwaite, Head of RHS Garden Harlow Carr, said: ‘People’s love of gardens and gardening often starts when they are children – running, laughing and playing in them, exploring winding paths, going for country walks and discovering the wonders of plants and wildlife. We hope that this summer will create many new happy memories for children, inspired by our gardens and Enid Blyton’s wonderful adventure books.’

The adventure trail in each RHS garden will encourage children to help The Famous Five find Uncle Quentin, who has gone missing on a horticultural research mission. All the gardens will also be running themed art and craft and storytelling or story writing activities.

• At RHS Garden Hyde Hall there will also be a den building, biscuit decorating, orienteering and bushcraft activities such as learning to follow animal tracks.

• RHS Garden Rosemoor will be holding a family exhibition about the life and works of Enid Blyton, which will include a children’s Faraway Tree with a slide and a Noddy Car. Rosemoor will also hold immersive Famous Five outdoor theatre performances around the garden, bird of prey displays, and a local produce show featuring Famous Five themed classes for adults and children.

• At RHS Garden Harlow Carr there will be Birds of Prey demonstrations and outdoor workshops exploring how flowers and herbs can be used in food, medicines and drinks. There will also be six performances of immersive Famous Five theatre across the garden, with further details to be announced. For adventurous plant owners there will also be the garden’s first Carnivorous Plants weekend on 12 and 13 August.

• At RHS Garden Wisley there will be puppet shows, bird of prey displays and workshops on planting, with the chance to sow your own treasure – ‘cloth of gold’ (Achillea filipendulina) and cuttings from money trees.

It was only at the start of the 1950s that publishers Hodder & Stoughton first used the term The Famous Five, and, within a year or two, they had sold over six million copies. Enid Blyton had only planned to write a handful, but sales were so strong that she went on to pen 21 The Famous Five novels, with over two million copies continuing to sell each year.

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