Top positive review
12 people found this helpful
Good, but doesn't dig deeply enough
on 21 September 2010
As a professional gardener, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the trials and triumphs of my predecessors. Horwood writes well, blending facts into an interesting narrative, but I felt the books structure let it down slightly. Instead of dealing with the subject chronologically, enabling us to fit writers, plant breeders, botanical illustrators and 'hands on' gardeners etc into one big picture, the author devotes separate chapters to each topic. This means we jump forwards and backwards through history, so that some women are mentioned several times in passing before we get to the chapter which actually deals with their achievements. I also found it frustrating that some very interesting but little-known gardeners were lumped together in a 'list', while so much attention was given to those who have had much written about them already.
I was also disappointed by Horwood's snobbish attitude to agriculture. On page 329, referring to those women who worked on farms during the war, she says 'this type of agricultural work was quite different from horticulture. It was dirty and exhausting, and could be done by 'townies' with the minimum of training.' Agriculture and horticulture both have tasks which may be done by the untrained; they also both have tasks which require great skill and understanding. I would like to see a 'townie' (or Horwood herself!) plough a field with 'the minimum of training'! Horwood is obviously annoyed by the lack of respect given to women gardeners through history, so it is sad to see her handing out the same patronising comments to female farmworkers.
In spite of these minor annoyances, this is a good book and well-worth reading. I would just like to see one that covers the topic in more depth...a 'double digging' job instead of a 'forking over' one!