Alan Chadwick Is Gone

Although he "never liked human beings," Alan Chadwick influenced the lives of thousands through his devotion to gardening and horticulture.

| November/December 1980

The smoking stars gather against it ... the one who cares for flowers is leaving us.(from an Aztec song)

Most regular readers of this publication already know Alan Chadwick as the founder of the biodynamic/French intensive gardening school of horticulture. Many, no doubt, can even name a few of the sites — the University of California at Santa Cruz, the Green Gulch Farm, Virginia's Carmel in the Valley, and others — whose soil has experienced his magic. It's strange, then, that few people know much about Alan's background. . . about the influences and forces that fed this exceptional man to develop what could well be the most truly wholistic gardening method in existence.  

So, since MOTHER EARTH NEWS has visited with Alan many times in the past, we'd like to present — by way of tribute — a brief biography of this extraordinary man in both our words and his own.  

Alan Chadwick was born on July 27, 1909 into the "upper crust" of Edwardian England's society. The family estate was enormous and dotted with formal gardens of varying themes and sizes. However, although the early exposure to such careful horticulture certainly inspired Alan, his mother was the major influence upon the young boy.

"She was extremely artistic," he told us, "and gave me at a terribly early age an interest in all forms of creativity ... and particularly in horticulture and the mystery that is the garden."

Chadwick's mother was also responsible for introducing her son to another strong influence: the mystic Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner, whose theories about the interrelatedness of living things were later to contribute to the development of Alan's own gardening methods. Steiner was, however, regarded as an "utter crank" by most of his peers, and Chadwick has explained that the attitude of house guests toward his tutor ("Very often, at tea or dinner, they would turn to me and say, with just the slightest curl of the lip, 'Do you really study with that man, then?' ") served to further isolate the teenager who, from early youth, "never liked human beings ... always got on with them in the worst way."

9/18/2013 3:37:26 PM

Much more on Alan Chadwick can be found at the following website: There are discussions of his mission, techniques, philosophy, and you can also listen to some of his lectures. A great resource.

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