paper, 286 pp., $31.99
Doyenne of English women garden writers at the turn of the twentieth century, Gertrude Jekyll (1843 – 1932) made a serious career of landscape design at a time when few women turned to this profession. Reportedly, she moved into this field of endeavor when declining eyesight no longer permitted her to pursue her original calling in the arts and crafts. She was an active gardener and well grounded in botanical knowledge. Jekyll emphasized nature as a motif at a period when public fashion was turning to the naturalistic or wild gardening style. In this work, originally published in 1899, Jekyll’s writings take a familiar approach, like a confidential chat with a friend. She first relates the schedule of month to month garden activities and floral displays before turning to essays on specific topics. Her prose is not in the syrupy style of the period, and in fact, she speaks rather harshly about those who misname the colors of flowers. “The same irrelevance of comparison seems to run through all the colors,” she declared in the chapter on flower color. This reprint will be of special interest to scholars, educators, and all those who love to garden.
— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden