Today, women are at the forefront of garden design and the horticultural world. But women’s connection with the garden has a much longer history, although their role has often been overlooked. From Eve to the seventeenth century women have been the backbone to the garden, cultivating and selling produce, growing and collecting plants. “Virgins, Weeders and Queens” ranges from the virgins perched on turf seats in medieval illuminations and the weeding women of the Tudor royal garden to queens who introduced new plants to Britain and herb wives who had to dodge accusations of witchcraft because of their arcane knowledge. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it explores the unsung women who invented Coade stone statues, created romantic landscapes in conjugal exile, and explored the sensual plant riches of Asia. Only in the later nineteenth and the twentieth centuries were women able assert themselves in all roles of gardening and begin to write about their experiences. Even when women’s lives were restricted the garden provided both a haven and an inspiration. Twigs Way’s lively and engaging book digs up the history of women in the garden, from the humble housewife to the venerated virgin.
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