It’s the anniversary of the death of the landscape and portrait painter Thomas Gainsborough who died on this day in 1788.
Gainsborough is known for his painting of the Blue Boy today. You can visit Gainsborough’s house in Suffolk. There is a garden there with a spectacular mulberry tree dating to the early 1600s during the reign of James I, who encouraged the planting of mulberry trees to establish a silk industry.
The king and his advisers lacked knowledge about Mulberry trees, of which there are two kinds.
The white mulberry feeds silkworms, and the black supplies the fruit. Gainsborough’s Mulberry (as well as every other Mulberry cultivated in England) was the black Mulberry.
Although England never successfully became known for silkworms, the craft of silk weaving became firmly rooted.
In addition to the large Mulberry, the Gainsborough garden includes two Beds for Herbs and another that is strictly devoted to plants used for dying fabric.
The rest of the garden is made up of plants that were available during Gainsborough's lifetime.