Miranda Seymour

Flowers in the Smog

The Gardens of the British Working Class


Yale University Press 413pp £25 order from our bookshop

‘Now you can’t do a poor man a greater kindness, in my opinion, than by giving him a garden.’ The speaker was the head gardener of Caunton Manor, which belonged to Dean Hole, one of those stalwart Victorian philanthropists who believed that the best way to keep a suffering soul from the gin shop was to provide him with a plot of land. Such Victorian industrialists and do-gooders – the two went together like a horse and carriage – shine out like beacons of energy and determination from Margaret Willes’s marvellously illuminating book.

Her story begins with Queen Elizabeth I

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