Daily Archives: December 24, 2012

* Women and Their Gardens by Catherine Horwood

I would say I’m quite interested in both women and gardens, but I found Women and Their Gardens: A History from the Elizabethan Era to Today to be a bust. The book is well researched and certainly ambitious, covering everything from botanists to garden designers to floral designers to artists, but it reads more like a catalog of  variously famous and not-so-famous women contributors to the vast field of gardening, with little to organize or structure the biographies. And sadly, although the book contains many illustrations, there are many points that would gain to be illustrated but are not, as when the author mentions one of the few species of flora named after a woman but fails to show it to us. The main success of the book is to show how gardening evolved with the role of women in larger society, from being one of the rare occupations deemed appropriate to well-bred ladies (who, typically, functioned more as overseers than hands-on gardeners, of which they had many, dozens in some of the examples shared in the book!) to becoming a bona fide job for women, even on the hallowed ground of the Kew conservatory of flowers.

Overall, I was disappointed, although someone more patient than I may enjoy the many details provided. That should cover 90% of the population…

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