A Gardening Book Well Used

I bought a gardening book well used, another copy of A Southern Garden by Elizabeth Lawrence (1942).

I am quite aware that my frozen garden in Indiana is not in the middle south, where Elizabeth Lawrence gardened.  But I can still read and enjoy this book, especially this copy, with a little hardiness zone translation.

Whoever owned this book seems to have read it cover to cover, underlining the names of plants, writing little comments in the margins, sometimes making notes that disagreed with Lawrence.

Here they noted that bearded iris are best transplanted in June or July, not fall.

On another page, they noted a particular allium bloom did not have a good scent by writing "stinky" in the margins.

In the back of the book, on those extra blank pages that are often found in the back of books, they wrote lists of blooms by date. Here are the lists of blooms for April 21, May 20, and June 16, 1947.

The signs of a reader who might have enjoyed Garden Bloggers' Bloom  Day?

Here's a list of all the tulips this particular gardener grew, with bloom dates.
Keeping track of when flowers bloomed was something Lawrence enjoyed doing and encouraged other gardeners to do, too.

I don't know exactly where this gardener lived, but there is an address label in the front for Kay H. in Alexandria, VA. That address includes an apartment number, so she may not have been the original owner.

Whoever she (or he) was, the owner of this book has left their mark on nearly every page, showing that this was a gardening book well used.

But that isn't the most fascinating aspect of this book.

What fascinates me is  this book was signed by the author.

"To a good gardener Greetings from Elizabeth Lawrence."

I'm sure all the markings in the book are the reason I was able to afford to buy this rare, first edition, signed book by Elizabeth Lawrence.

I'll take those markings, a sign of a gardening book well used, with the inscription by Elizabeth Lawrence and put this book on that special shelf in my library labeled "treasured".


  1. What a wonderful find!

  2. I bet this person would like GBBD. This is like reading her garden journal. Fascinating.

  3. I always love an Elizabeth Lawrence shout-out, Carol! What a treasure that you found this great book... and signed by Miss Lawrence, no less. LOVE IT! Remember us in your will... :)

    Happy Gardening!
    Andrea Sprott
    Elizabeth Lawrence House & Garden Curator

  4. Wow, such a great treasure! What a great history the book has!

  5. This book is one of my favorites and a big influence. How exciting to find an autographed copy!

  6. Very cool, Carol! In your mind do you imagine that Miss Lawrence wrote the inscription to you? That's what I'd do if it were mine!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose


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