English Gardeners and the Fashions of the Day

I received a lovely note from a reader, Anita, in Australia.
She made my day!
She was looking for a post I had written on English gardeners.
I had mentioned a book she was keen to find.
She searched thru my blogs and could not find the post. 

Firstly, I was impressed that she went so far as to do that. 
There are many trials and tribulations of having five blogs, one of them 
is trying to remember where I posted on something. 
Luckily, this was an easy one to remember.

 I wrote the post 'Gardening Style' over at my other cashmerejeans...style

In my mind, 
 if you collect gardening books, you must have this one.
'Garden People: Valerie Finnis and the Golden Age of Gardening 
by Urusla Buchan

Photograph of Nancy Lancaster tending her garden, taken by Valerie Finnis.

The woman behind the camera...
Valerie Finnis, woman extraordinaire.

Photograph by Tessa Traeger

There is no doubt that Valerie Finnis was a talented photographer.

"With great skill and verve, she took photographs of gardeners, gardens 
and plants from the mid-1950's onward, using a Rolleiflex camera 
given to her by a friend."

"All are seen at home in their gardens, weeding, inspecting, watering and 
standing proudly by their plants, wearing the fashions of the day, epitomizing
 many aspects of life and society in the second half
of the twentieth century."

Lady Birley of Charleston Manor in Sussex.

Cecily 'Parsley' Mure wearing silk whilst watering her alpine trough. 

Valerie Finnis loved gardening and her eclectic circle of contemporaries 
and friends that lived within that world. She left some 50,000 transparencies, 
taken between 1950-1990.

Valerie Finnis appearing in World of Interiors magazine. 
If ever there were a hat to love, this has to be it! 
Photo beautifully taken by Jan Baldwin.

I have been collecting gardening books for years.
 I am very excited to have this book
sitting alongside the rest. I highly recommend it!

American, Nancy Lancaster gardening at Haseley Court.

Margery Fish of East Lambook Manor in Somerset.

Valerie and her partner in life, Sir David Scott, with their pug Kate, "sitting outside
The Dower House, where they lived and gardened together in great harmony."

A great book for that special gardener in your life. 
(and it could be you)

via the book,  Garden People:
Valerie Finnis potting around with her pug via


  1. Jeanne, thank you for posting about this book. I will definitely be buying it. I also collect gardening books and this one looks especially enticing with its emphasis on the gardeners themselves. I love how the photos reflect certain aspects of life and society in England in the second half of the twentieth century. The clothes are amazing. Have you ever read Beverley Nichols' books on gardening? I think you would love them. Another English gardener writing about his many projects with great wit and humor. You will laugh out loud! xx Sunday

  2. Hello Jeannie,
    What a lovely surprise to wake to to!!!Now you've made my day!!! There they are in all there gardening glory. I've just ordered my copy from Amazon and your readers may like to know that there are a couple of copies left. Jeannie, this has made me think about the American illustrator Tasha Tudor. She gardened barefoot in clothes of the 1800's style and had a passion for corgis. The books are The Private World of Tasha Tudor and Tasha Tudors Garden by Richard Brown. Might take a little more care in what I wear in the garden this morning. Off to find my trug,

  3. Sunday..I trust your judgement on books explicitly!
    I have ordered many a book from your suggestions...I am going to keep an eye out for this one. You should be off to Paris soon??

    Anita...so glad you enjoy the post! If you enjoy Tasha Tudor, be sure to check out another great gardening blog, Notes from Juniper Hill. Tovah Martin, author of Tasha Tudor's Garden is a guest blogger. Joe is the author of Notes from Juniper Hill and has a spectacular home and garden. I am sure you will enjoy his posts too.

    Hope you found your trug and were able to fill it with beautiful specimens. :)

  4. I just love that picture of Lady Birley with the hat! Makes me laugh out loud every time:-)

  5. I absolutely have to find a copy of this one. As an avid nightgown gardener... I can so relate to these wonderful women!

  6. What a fascinating and unusual book. I'd never heard of it but what a marvellous idea, and so wonderfully executed. An unusual woman indeed.

  7. Love love that last picture.


  8. Bonjour chère Jeanne,
    Je ne sais par où commencer.
    En premier, j’adore « vos » blogs.
    Votre style, votre humour, vos choix.
    Vous êtes une source d’inspiration. Aussi je viens d’acheter ce livre magnifique sur ces « dames au jardin » dont j’aimerais faire partie !
    J’ai un très vif penchant pour l’excentricité qui ne peut se libérer complètement pour l’instant, alors je m’entraine pour le grand jour. Ce livre me donnera des leçons.
    Je ne sais pourquoi, en tant que française originaire du sud de la France, j’ai une attirance immodérée pour la Bretagne et votre pays. Peut-être dans une vie antérieure ai-je vécu dans un manoir ou même un château – c’est mieux que dans un faubourg – de votre belle campagne anglaise.
    Alors, en attendant, je viens me promener sur vos blogs pour m’habituer et je vous en remercie.
    Avec toute mon amitié.
    Fine Bessot.
    P.S. j’espère que la traduction sera bonne !!!!!

    Hello dear Jeanne,
    I don’t know where to begin.
    First, I love "your" blogs.
    Your style, your humor, your choice.
    You are a source of inspiration. Also I just bought this magnificent book on "ladies at the garden" which I would like to party!
    I have a very strong penchant for eccentricity can not free themselves completely for the moment, then I me leads to the big day. This book will give me lessons.
    I don’t know why, as a French native to the South of the France, I have an immoderate attraction to Bretagne and your country. Perhaps in a previous life I lived in a mansion or even a castle - this is better than in a suburb - to your beautiful English countryside.
    Then, in the meantime, I go for a walk on your blogs to get used.
    Thank you.
    Fine Bessot.
    P.S. I hope that the translation is good!!!!!

  9. It was an interesting post to read!! She is just amazing !!!
    garden ornaments uk