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Case thirteen

Henry Burgess, The amateur gardeners yearbook. Edinburgh: A & C. Black, 1854Private Collection.
Henry Burgess, The amateur gardener's yearbook. Edinburgh: A & C. Black, 1854
Private Collection.

Editors and journalists

The Rev. Dr Henry Burgess was a Victorian curate who followed John Laurence's advice to obtain exercise cultivating his garden. When not editing The Journal of Sacred Literature, he was penning practical advice for the Gardener's Chronicle (1846-9). His articles were revised and assembled in The Amateur Gardener's Year-Book (1854). The book was both a garden calendar and collection of essays in which Burgess expounded his views on topics like weeds as ‘thieves', the ‘hateful fraternity' of cats, and the penalties of sloth.

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The 19th century produced several prolific garden writers, including James Shirley Hibberd (1825-90). Not only did he write about 15 books on horticulture and botany, but he was a gardening journalist for over 32 years, editing The Floral World from 1858-1876, and the Gardener's Magazine and its forerunner from 1861 till his death in 1890. Personal experience as an amateur gardener in the suburbs informed his writing. He conducted systematic plant variety trials, and experimented with growing techniques (e.g. for the potato). The Amateur's Kitchen Garden (1877) was a companion volume to works on the flower garden, greenhouse, fernery and rose gardens.

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Until the 1870s Hibberd was a good friend of William Robinson (1838-1935), a professionally-trained gardener who also became a writer and journalist. Rivalry over the magazines they each edited became an unresolved feud. However their magazines addressed different audiences. While Hibberd wrote for middle-class amateurs in the suburbs, Robinson's The Garden (1871-) and Gardening Illustrated (1879-) catered for wealthier gardeners with trained staff. Robinson's first book Gleanings from French Gardens (1868) tried to introduce French horticultural techniques to England, but he achieved greater success with The Wild Garden (1870), which became a 20th century classic, and The English Flower Garden (1883), of which 15 editions appeared in his lifetime.

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