• edited by D. Kellaway

For planting ground is painting a landscape with living things and I hold that good gardening takes rank with bounds of the fine arts, so I hold that to plant well needs an artist of no mean capacity (Wood and Garden, Gertrude Jekyll) - pp xiii

…perhaps the chiefest attraction of a garden is that occupation can always be found there. No idle people are happy, but with mind and fingers busy cares are soonest forgotten. Alicia Amherst, 1902 - pp4

Weeds have a peculiar fascination for us. They are endlessly interesting, like an enemy who occupies our thoughts and chemise so much more than any friend and who we should miss (…) if he suddenly moved away. Ursula Buchan, 1987 - pp7

No one who calls himself a gardener, or who would wish to do so can avoid weeding. It is best to enjoy it for it is a constant which will never go away, unless the scientists invent the infallible, toxic only to weeds, selective weedkiller. Ursula Buchan, 1987 - pp8

After such a day my fingers are bleeding, knees tottering, back bent, dress muddy and soaking, and shoes an offense to my tidy maid; but I have attained the most profound inward peace, and the blessed belief that I have uprooted all my enemies. Anna Lea Merrit, 1908 - pp 16

The only way to learn is to DO the actual work. Beatrix Havergal, 1939 - pp 19

The real way is to try to learn a little from everybody and from every place. There is no royal road. Gertrude Jekyll, 1809 - pp26

Through all the variations, due to climate, country, history and the natural idiosyncrasy of man, which have appeared in the evolution of the garden through successive civilizations, certain principles remain constant however much their application may change. Perhaps the greatest of these (…) is a sense of unity. It is a quality found in all great landscapes, based on the rhythm of natural land form, the domination of one type of vegetation and the fact that human use and buildings have kept in sympathy with their surroundings. (…) Surprise and hidden depths are part of the attribute of variety, whether it is the magnificently conceived hidden canal at Vaux, or merely a curving path disappearing into the shadow of trees in a small private garden. A garden without mystery is not one to live with, although it may serve as a setting to some great building, to be seen purely as part of a view and not felt as an environment… Sylvia Crowe, 1951 - pp26 & 27

No garden, great or small, should be seen all at one glance… Penelope Hobhouse, 1976 - pp 32

All gardens, therefore, should have some hedged in, completely sheltered part. It should be so shaped that shadow can be had at every moment in the day, while sunshine and protection from wind can both also be gained, when wanted upon cold stormy days.

Horticulture is next to music the most sensitive of fine arts. Properly allied to Architecture, garden making is as near as a man may get o the Divine function… Maurice Hewlet - pp 34

The education of women as a rule poor enough in those days; but a study of the Linnean system was among the elegant accomplishments held to become a young woman; and one may feel pretty sure that even a smattering of botanical knowledge, and the observation needed for third- or fourth rate flower-painting, would tend to a love of variety in beds and borders. (…) If time and money are both lacking, and horticulture is not a hobby, divide what sum you are prepared to spend on your little garden in two. Lay out half in making good soil, and spend the rest on a limited range of hardy plants. Mrs Erwing, 1886 - pp43 & 44

My idea of a good ground cover plant is one that has good foliage all year round, doesn't take much nourishment from the soil, and is easy to contral. Margaret Fist, 1958 - pp 53

How I loathe being ill! How I fight it, rebel against it, garden up to the very last moment and get up tottering to go out and replant the Violet bed. Mrs Leslie Williams, 1901. - pp 58

The watering of a garden requires nearly as much judgement as seasoning a soup. Keep the soil well stirred and loose on the surface (…) Mrs helena Rutherford Ely, 1903 - pp 62

Knowing how to grow things is important if you want to make a garden, but not as important as people make out; it's knowing where to put them that matters. Mary Keen, 1987 - pp 78

Playing with colour and form in the garden is the nearest that most of us will ever get to painting. Mary Keen, 1991 - pp 87

I would put the drawbacks in town gardening in the following order: First, WALLS; second, AIR; third, CATS; fourth, SOIL… Cats can almost break a gardeners heart. Lady Seton, 1927 - pp 137

Flower relationships, in the place of counting sheep, is an excellent exercise for anyone who happens to be suffering from a bout of sleeplessness. To conjure up a window-box of flowers immaculate in growth and bloom, in brilliant patterns, can be helpful in lulling one to sleep. Xenia Field, 1965 - pp 149

The idea of making a garden on the topmost twenty third floor of a council tower block in east London might be compared with a brave, but astonishingly foolhardy attempt to make a garden in a crow's nest of an old fashioned sailing ship. Hester Mallin, 1980 - pp 152

… a garden where you meet people you saw at breakfast, and will see again at lunch at dinner, is not a place to be happy in. Elizabeth von Arnim, 1898 - pp 164

What can I bring away from here? … Not this amputated statue, or broken bass relief, or fragmentary effect of any sort, but the sense of the informing spirit - an understanding of the gardener's purpose, and of uses in which he meant his garden to be put. Edith Wharton, 1904 - pp170

Is it possible to garden and to travel or are the two things contradiction in terms? Mirabel Osler, 1986 - pp177

Dear Clare, I am overwhelmed with the deep melancholia which always attacks me when I'm about to travel. I look around the garden as though I were seeing it for the last time. I feel like Bette Davis in Dark Victory, bravely planting hyacinths though blind and about to die of a tumor on the brain, both disabilities unnoticed by her husband. Anne Scott-James, 1990 - pp 180

From: Kellaway, D., Ed. (1996). Women Gardeners. Virago Press Ltd
  • women_gardeners.txt
  • Last modified: 2011-03-07 04:41
  • by maja