Women in the garden

'Lady Jane' tulips in bloom
I find it interesting that in some old gardening books, the authors felt compelled to point out that women can indeed garden.

 J. B. Whiting wrote in his 1849 book, Manual of Flower Gardening for Ladies: With Directions for the Propagation and Management of the Plants Usually Cultivated in the Flower Garden:

“Gardening is not only one of the most innocent, but, when practised merely as a recreation, one of the most healthful, of all occupations; and, for these reasons, it is especially suitable, as an exercise both of the mind and the body, for ladies who pass much of their time in the country. To watch and tend the delicate seedling, through all the stages of its gradual development until it becomes a perfect plant; to mark the unfolding of the tender young leaves, and to observe the progressive expansion of the flower-buds into full-blown flowers, seems a peculiarly fitting employment for a refined and gentle female.”

There you have it. Gardening is innocent, recreational and healthful!  It exercises the mind and the body.  It also involves quite a bit of  watching plants.  All good, especially, if one is refined, and gentle, and female.

Ladies, go forth and garden with the blessings of J. B. Whiting. 


  1. Oh good grief. These ladies must have laughed when they read this book. Yes, it's innocent and healthful. It's also a messy business. Thanks for making me laugh.~~Dee

  2. Yes, it's messy, but oh so satisfying. I can contemplate dream, and plan while I get much needed exercise. I don't mind the aches and pains when I see the fruits of my labor!

  3. There's an equivalent to this in England -- the garden writer Jane Loudon. She married a very successful garden writer and (so she said) learned everything from him. Jane went on to write many books aimed specifically at women gardeners. And her books were great financial successes.

  4. I am at such peace when wandering about in my garden. I love it.
    I have looked at Lady Jane tulips again this spring (in the catalog)and thought about planting them under my Jane magnolia. The two Janes would be a great combination.

  5. Thanks so much for this great quote and reference! I love these 19th c books that see women as "sensitive plants" whose natures render them too delicate for the world outside the home. They assumed women would/should shrink from the rough world of business and politics. But what about childbirth and fertilizer?


Post a Comment

Comments are to a blog what flowers are to a garden. Sow your thoughts here and may all your comments multiply as blooms in your garden.

Though there is never enough time to respond to each comment individually these days, please know that I do read and love each one and will try to reciprocate on your blog.

By the way, if you are leaving a comment just so you can include a link to your business site, the garden fairies will find it and compost it!