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The Head Gardeners [Paperback]

Toby Musgrave
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

25 Mar 2009

‘Toby Musgrave’s delightful book about the single-minded and often tyrannical horticulturalistic pioneers of the English country garden.’ Independent on Sunday

The great head gardeners of Victorian and Edwardian Britain enjoyed a status and an importance that extended far beyond the walled frontiers of their fiefdoms. Only the very best of the uneducated country lads who were taken on as garden boys survived the apprenticeship of up to fifteen years, but those that did were men of strong character who had educated themselves in the sciences of botany, etymology, plant breeding, plant physiology, surveying, perspective drawing and much else. As well as ensuring that the great houses were supplied with flowers, fruit and vegetables the year round – pineapples by the dozens, peaches and apricots by the thousand were harvested from their greenhouses - they learned to cultivate the host of exotic plants that their employers imported from the ends of the earth. They invented the trade of floristry. They wrote bestselling books and published the first gardening magazines. The fame and reputation of great houses and their owners depended upon the skills of the head gardeners and competition for their services could be intense.
Some tyrannised their employers to the extent that they durst not pick a flower or pluck a fruit for fear of the head gardener’s displeasure. Others, like Joseph Paxton, designer of the Crystal Palace, became the friends and confidants of those who paid their wages. They ran what were, in effect, large horticultural businesses which might employ fifty or more staff and have annual expenditures that would run into the millions in today’s currency..
In this scholarly and highly entertaining book Toby Musgrave rescues the head gardeners from the backwaters of horticultural history and restores them to their rightful place as the founders of their profession.


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The Head Gardeners + Walled Kitchen Gardens (Shire Album) + The Country House Kitchen Garden 1600-1950 (National Trust)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (25 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845134117
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845134112
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr Toby Musgrave has a passion for horticulture and garden history which began at a very early age and shows no signs of abating. With a degree in horticulture and a Ph.D in garden history, both from Reading University, he has been an independent scholar since 1994. Toby has found an outlet for his enthusiasm and knowledge in a range of different media including books, television, radio, newspapers and magazines, as a lecturer, and most recently in a blog. Toby lives in Denmark, where his ¼-acre garden is an uneven mix of ornamentals, edibles (heritage varieties, of course) and weeds, and where he finds the climate 'challenging'. For more information about Toby and his work, please visit www.TobyMusgrave.com and his blog www.GardenHistoryMatters.com

Product Description

Review

‘Toby Musgrave's delightful book about the single-minded and often tyrannical horticulturalistic pioneers of the English country garden.’

(Independent on Sunday)

'There is much information here but the many stories and anecdotes jolly it along most effectively.'

(Daily Telegraph)

'Well researched and highly readable.'

(National Trust Magazine)

About the Author

Dr. Toby Musgrave is a horticulturist and garden historian, and author of a number of books including the best-selling The Plant Hunters, An Empire of Plants, The Seven Deadly Sins of Gardening, Courtyard Gardens and Cottage Gardens. Presenter of the DVD Your First Garden Made Easy, Toby designs gardens around the world and lectures widely on garden history and garden design.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a dull read about an interesting subject 19 July 2010
Format:Paperback
A book about professional gardening, and the importance of head gardeners in shaping our country.
I was disappointed with this book, it reads like a PhD thesis, very academic, lots of lists and facts, and very little narrative.
It is exceptionally well researched, but it is not a book I would read for pleasure
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down! 28 Oct 2011
By fenella
Format:Paperback
Sounds like an odd thing to say about a history book, but I genuinely couldn't - as a professional gardener myself I was fascinated by how my trade has developed over the last few centuries. Enlightening and readable, full of very "human" details.

The excellent research and writing was however let down by the production - I agree with the reviewer who mentioned the illustrations were often so blurred as to be useless, and there were a fair few typing/editing errors too, a couple of which seemed to render sentences incomprehensible. Sigh.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something wrong with the illustrations 30 April 2008
Format:Hardcover
An important contribution to the social history of the English garden, competent and readable. What makes me wonder is this: Why are 80% of the embedded b/w illustrations - many of them showing pages from old books or letters - so blurred? Often one can hardly read the print anymore. Obviously, quality control has failed here.
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