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The Hidden Horticulturalists Reviews

The Hidden Horticulturalists by Fiona Davison

The Hidden Horticulturists: The Untold Story of the Men who Shaped Britain's Gardens

Fiona Davison

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Atlantic Books
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Publication date: 4 Apr 2019
ISBN: 9781786495075

The untold story of the remarkable young men who played a central role in the history of British horticulture and helped to shape the way we garden today.

4 stars out of 5
1 May 2019


This book – the first by Fiona Davison, chief librarian at the Royal Horticultural Society – tells the story of a cadre of promising young men who qualified as gardeners in the early 19th century. Some met with success; others bumbled along and were then lost to posterity; a few went spectacularly downhill and ended up in prison or the workhouse. What is refreshing is that nearly all the names unearthed will be unfamiliar, even to garden historians... Since they contain only the barest biographical details, the handwritten entries are not particularly interesting in themselves, which is perhaps why the notebook languished unregarded for so long. But Davison has conducted deep research into the later careers of most of these gardeners, discovering what happened to them after they left Chiswick. The result is a revealing insight into the lives of aspiring working men in this period.


4 stars out of 5
28 Mar 2019


Social historian Fiona Davison’s delightful book tells the story of the first garden apprentices at what was to become the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). [...] The Hidden Horticulturists pulsates with the extraordinary energy and excitement of the time, as thrilling new plants were discovered and shipped back to Britain from all over the globe. [...] Today, as Davison points out, gardeners don’t have the status they deserve unless they appear regularly on television. These days, someone with the drive and dynamism of Joseph Paxton would probably go into the City or become a software designer.