A Paradise Out of a Common Field: The Pleasures and Plenty of the Victorian Garden - Joan Morgan & Alison RichardsNew York: Harper & Row, 1990, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper.
Includes: Sketches; Conversion charts; Colour plates; Black & white drawings; References; Frontispiece; Title page vignette; Appendix;
From the cover: “The skills of Victorian head gardeners changed the face of country house gardens for ever. Whereas the eighteenth-century landowner gazed out from his drawing-room windows at rolling pasture and native woodland, his nineteenth-century counterpart was seduced by colourful, geometric flowerbeds, exotic shrubberies and elegant conifers.
Inside the house, too, things would never again be the same. New conservatories glittered with brilliant blossom and luxuriant foliage. Pot plants and cut flowers entered hallways and drawing rooms, and joined candelabra and plate on the dining table. Eight-course dinners celebrated the unfailing supply of fine young vegetables, and concluded with a magnificent dessert which, even in winter, included sweet juicy pineapples and fragrant grapes.
It was a horticultural and — for the wealthy proprietor — social tour de force. In his role as artist, nurseryman, florist and connoisseur, the head gardener enabled his employer to provide guests with the fashionable settings and culinary splendours which his position — or ambition — in Society demanded.
In this lively account of the Victorian gardener’s heyday, developed from the radio series of the same name, Joan Morgan and Alison Richards show how the patterns and competitiveness of upper-class life shaped the head gardener’s role, while, at the same time, advances ranging from the widespread availability of thousands of new plants and improvements in glass-house technology to the rise of gastronomy gave him unprecedented scope to fulfil it.
The authors draw on a range of contemporary records, from the notes and diaries of head gardeners themselves, and the many books and magazines they wrote and read, to country house archives and recipe books. The text is illustrated with colour plates, and charming line drawings of the period.
A Paradise out of a Common Field provides fresh insights into the function of the Victorian country house and its garden, and will delight and inform not only gardeners and social historians but also interior decorators and all lovers of good food.”