Gardening Women by Catherine Horwood

March 7, 2011

in Book Reviews, Reviews

Gardening Women cover

A book review by the best selling novelist Lesley Pearce. ThinkinGardens gets around!

Anne Wareham, editor.

Reviewed by Lesley Pearse.

For anyone who has a passion for history along with gardening, this is the  book. It charts women gardeners from 1600 to the present. Gertrude Jekyll, and Beth Chatto were the only ones I could name, and so it was enthralling to read about less famous, but equally well-deserving other women, especially those back in the old days when the RHS wouldn’t allow women membership.

Catherine Horwood has clearly researched her book thoroughly, and she sets out the stories of these gardening pioneers in such a way that you feel you have a real ‘look over the garden wall’ at them. I was astounded by how many plants I which I had considered to be native to this country were discovered overseas, brought here, and nurtured by these women, beginning the plant nurseries so beloved of us gardeners now.

It struck me too, that as so many of these lady gardeners lived to a ripe old age, gardening really does keep you young and fit. I was particularly amused that the first women to be employed as gardeners at Kew Gardens were considered a great curiosity, especially as they wore knickerbockers to work in. But that is part of the attraction of this book, because it isn’t just dry facts. Instead it is a glimpse back into a more restricted, genteel world, yet one where the passion for growing flowers and plants helped to break down class and gender barriers.

Five Stars for sheer readability.

Lesley Pearce.


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