Louisa Boyd Yeomans King
The Well-Considered Garden
Today is the anniversary of the death of the American Gardener and Garden writer Louisa Boyd Yeomans King.
At the age of 26, she married a wealthy man from Chicago by the name of Frances King, which is why her pen name was Mrs. Francis King.
Louisa learned to garden from her mother-in-law Aurelia. Her mother-in-law lived on a large estate, and she had a huge garden and an impressive garden library.
In 1902, Louisa and her husband moved to Michigan, where they built a home called Orchard House. With the help of a gardener by the name of Frank Ackney, Louisa began to plan and create her garden. She also began writing about her Gardens.
Soon, she was giving lectures, contributing pieces to magazines, writing columns, and organizing garden clubs. She even became friends with prominent gardeners of her time like Gertrude Jekyll, Charles Sprague Sargent, and the landscape architects Fletcher Steele and Ellen Biddle Shipman.
Louisa learned to garden during the heyday of American Garden Culture, and her garden writing in newspaper columns and magazine publications made her the most widely read American Garden author in the United States.
For Louisa's first book, "The Well-Considered Garden," the preface was written by her dear friend Gertrude Jekyll. In 1915, when the book debuted, it was considered an instant classic in garden literature. Louisa would go on to write a total of nine books.
The garden estate known as Blithewold has a copy of "The Well-Considered Garden." Their particular text also contains a handwritten inscription along with Louisa's signature. The inscription borrows a quote from Sir William Temple who said,
"Gardening is an enjoyment and a possession for which no man is too high or too low."
Louisa changed the quote and wrote,
"Gardening is an enjoyment and a possession for which no woman is too high or too low."
In 1922, House & Garden Magazine dubbed Louisa, "The Fairy Godmother of Gardening." We know that the garden photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston was a fan of her work because she donated her entire collection of Louisa's books to the library at the New York Botanical Garden.
Louisa helped start the Garden Club of America and the Women's National Farm and Garden Association. She held leadership positions in both organizations.
When her husband died suddenly in 1927, Louisa was forced to sell Orchard House. She moved to Hartford, New York, and bought a property she called Kingstree. This time, she set up a smaller garden. The size meant less work, which better-accommodated her writing and speaking commitments.
When Louisa died on this day in 1948, her ashes were scattered at Kingstree.
It was Louisa Yeomans King who said,
"Each has his most real thing. Mine is the garden."
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