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New Louisiana Gardener

New Louisiana Gardener
Jacques-Felix Lelièvre
Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press
Publication Date: 

Originally published in New Orleans in 1838; English translation, introduction and annotations by Sally Kittredge Reeves.

cloth, 186 p., $29.95.

This delightful period piece offers a well-documented history of Louisiana home and market gardening around the year 1838, the original publication date of this work. Editor Sally Kittredge Reeves, using extensive research into French and English horticultural literature, presents a lost gardening treasure in its proper historical context.

Jacques-Felix Lelièvre's advice to growers, while dated, is often sensible. He concentrated on a few important vegetables, fruits and herbs. Like many of his contemporaries, he did not use varietal names or descriptions, so this work will be of little interest to the heirloom gardener. However, those who garden by the phases of the moon will find in the author a kindred spirit propounding an elaborate astronomical system thought to identify propitious moments for planting and other activities.

The editor's love for historical literature goes a step too far, though, as she relies on the outdated nomenclature and taxonomy of Hortus Second. However, this little gem's merits are its tightly focused views, both in words and in marvelous archival illustrations of garden designs, of the thoroughly French city of New Orleans and its environs.

— John F. Swenson, Volunteer, Plant Information Office, Chicago Botanic Garden