Thursday, June 3, 2010

Old Garden Books

I have written before about the wealth of antique garden literature available on Google Books and I have to say that I am extremely fond of old gardening books. While I certainly have great appreciation of contemporary garden writing - not to mention an ill-controlled weakness for those glossy coffee table books of colorful English borders and rose-petal strewn Moroccan courtyards - older books somehow offer the extra magic and mystery of history and things gone by, of practices all but forgotten and ancient knowledge rediscovered. A few months ago I came across two such little treasures while browsing at an antique store in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with my parents: The Flower Garden by Ida D. Bennet, published in 1910, and the Better Homes and Gardens Garden Book from 1951.

 The Flower Garden by Ida B. Bennet, 1910

Better Homes and Gardens Garden Book, 1951

Together the books came to a mere $10; meanwhile Bennet's The Flower Garden contains such gems of horticultural writing as "Don't supply with cut flowers, plants, and the like, people who spend more money for unnecessary luxuries than you do for your whole garden, and then tell you how foolish you are to spend so much time and money, and work so hard for your flowers" (Bennet 255). Apart from these acquisitions of my own, when I got home from college I found three more antique garden books on my bedroom shelf, thanks to my utterly amazing and ever-supportive parents: The New Garden Encyclopedia from 1946, All About House Plants by Montague Free from 1948, and Favorite Flowers in Colors, published in 1949.

The New Garden Encyclopedia from 1946

All About House Plants from 1948

Spine of Favorite Flowers in Color from 1949

A page from Favorite Flowers in Color

Now I just need to find time to actually read...

1 comment:

  1. My favorite sources for older gardening books, and older houseplant books in particular, are public library sales. I haven't turned up anything older than the 1960s yet, but searching is a lot of fun.


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