February 25, 2022 Anna Gilman Hill, George Harrison, Edna for the Garden, Secret Gardeners by Victoria Summerley, and Olive Mary Edmundson Harrisson


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Historical Events

1872 Birth of Anna Gilman Hill, Director of the Garden Club of America (1920-1926) and assistant editor of the Club's Bulletin (1921-​1945). Anna and her husband own an estate in East Hampton called "Grey Gardens," which was purchased by the American socialite Edith Bouvier Beale. Anna once wrote,

Above all, in your absence, do not allow the children, the ignorant visitor, your husband, or your maiden aunt to play the hose on your poor defenseless plants.


1943 Birth of George Harrison (books about this person), English musician and singer-songwriter, and lead guitarist of the Beatles. His original song compositions include While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Here Comes the Sun. Sometimes referred to as the "Quiet Beatle," George relished his life out of the spotlight and said,

I'm not really a career person. I'm a gardener, basically...
Sometimes I feel like I'm actually on the wrong planet. It's great when I'm in my garden, but the minute I go out the gate, I think, 'What the hell am I doing here?"


1989 On this day, The Age newspaper out of Melbourne, Australia, ran a story about a brand new play written by Suzanne Spunner called "Edna for the Garden." The play featured the charismatic Australian gardener, designer, conservationist, and writer Edna Walling. During her lifetime, her garden design clients would say to their friends,

You must have Edna for the garden.

The familiar saying inspired the name of the play.


Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation

Secret Gardeners by Victoria Summerley

This book came out late in 2017, and the subtitle is Britain's Creatives Reveal Their Private Sanctuaries.

This book features the private gardens, the secret gardens, of some of Britain's most famous artists. In all, twenty-five gardens are featured in this drop-dead gorgeous book. You'll get to see the gardens of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Anish Kapoor, Jeremy Irons, Cath Kidston, Terry Gilliam, Prue Leith, Ozzy Osbourne, Sting, Julian Fellowes, and Rupert Everett, just to name a few.

For the most part, these private sanctuaries - these great spaces - are not for public consumption. Without Victoria and Hugo's book, these gardens would remain hidden; they would remain secret gardens. But thankfully and generously, they all agreed to be part of this incredible book.

In the introduction, Victoria reveals how she and Hugo have connected with these beautiful spaces. They've done a couple of great books together:  

Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds (2015)

Great Gardens of London (2019)

Victoria writes,

When planning this book, Hugo Ritson Thomas and I did not set out to feature famous people who had lovely garden. Our original concept was a book on artist's gardens, looking at how those who had some training or background in the visual arts organize their outdoor spaces.

We were all very enthusiastic about the idea, but realized that it might have a broader appeal if we included people who were involved in the performance arts as well.

I'm often asked how I choose the garden for my books. The answer is that I don't — Hugo does. I have a power of veto… but Hugo is the one who persuades people to open their gates and let us in.

How he does this I have no idea. I am firmly of the belief that Hugo could persuade St. Peter to open the gates of heaven... If our publisher decided to... commission a book on the Garden of Eden.

Hugo and Victoria make a lovely garden book team. Hugo's indelible images transport us to these wonderful spaces, and Victoria helps us appreciate them on a much deeper level than we would otherwise without her lovely commentary.

When you pick up a Victoria Summerly/Hugo Rittson Thomas book, you know it's going to be beautiful, you know that the gardens will be world-class, and you know that you're buying a book that is not for the bookshelf. It's way too pretty for that. This is a book that is set out so that when you walk by, you're tempted to stop and to read it — or when someone visits your home, they see that beautiful book and fall in love.

This book is 272 pages of gorgeous, sublime, unforgettable, imaginative, secret gardens that are sure to knock your socks off.

You can get a copy of Secret Gardeners by Victoria Summerley and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for $30.


Botanic Spark

1881 Birth of Olive Mary Edmundson Harrisson, British horticulturist.

In 1898, Olive was the top student at Swanley Horticultural College and placed first on her exams with 285 points. By rights, she should have earned a spot at the RHS garden in Chiswick, £5,000, and a scholarship. But Olive was born just a bit too early because the RHS declined to recognize Olive's accomplishment since they were still an all-male institution.

Women made up 10 of the top 25 test scores for 1898. So, two Marys, three Ethels, one Jessie, a Lillian, a Eunice, and an Ada, would not have been able to work at the RHS either.

Olive's story was uncovered by a researcher at the RHS Lindley Library and then picked up by the BBC. The media attention led to a connection with Olive's descendants, who confirmed Olive's lifelong love of gardening.

After her exam, Olive did eventually find work as a gardener. In 1901, she worked for the Cadbury family (the Cadbury's loved their gardens). Once she married in 1904, Olive stayed home to raise her family. Olive died in 1972 in Seattle.


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And remember: For a happy, healthy life, garden every day.

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