Synopses & Reviews
Back in print after fifty years
Old Herbaceous is a classic British novel of the garden, with a title character as outsized and unforgettable as P. G. Wodehouses immortal butler, Jeeves. Born at the dusk of the Victorian era, Bert Pinnegar, an awkward orphan child with one leg a tad longer than the other, rises from inauspicious schoolboy days spent picking wildflowers and dodging angry farmers to become the legendary head gardener “Old Herbaceous,” the most esteemed flower-show judge in the county and a famed horticultural wizard capable of producing dazzling April strawberries from the greenhouse and the exact morning glories his Lady spies on the French Riviera, “so blue, so blue it positively hurts.” Sprinkled with nuggets of gardening wisdom, Old Herbaceous is a witty comic portrait of the most archetypal—and crotchety—head gardener ever to plant a row of bulbs at a British country house.
This Modern Library edition is published with a new Introduction by
Penelope Hobhouse, a renowned garden designer and lecturer and the author of numerous gardening books.
Out of print since 1951, Old Herbaceous is a classic of British gardening literature, with a title character as outsized and unforgettable as the butler Jeeves. (The novel was adapted into a much-beloved one-man show performed before the royal family at Windsor Castle in 1979.) Set at the dusk of Victorian England, the story traces the life of Bert Pinnegar, an awkward orphan child, from his inauspicious schoolboy days spent picking wildflowers and dodging angry farmers through his apprenticeship in the world of primroses and tulips with his robust teacher, Mary Brain. Eventually, Pinnegar rises to become the most esteemed flower-show judge in the country and a famed horticultural wizard, capable of producing dazzling April strawberries from the greenhouse anti the exact morning glories his lady spies on the French Riviera, "so blue, so blue it positively hurt."
Sprinkled with nuggets of gardening wisdom, Old Herbaceous is a gardener's tale with appeal even for those who don't know a primula from a pansy.
About the Author
(1872-1959) wrote many musical plays for the London theater, the most popular of which was 1066 and All That
. He was the author of A Cottage in the Country
and the Green Fingers series of garden verse.
Michael Pollan is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Botany of Desire (available from Random House Trade Paperbacks) and Second Nature, named one of the best gardening books of the twentieth century by the American Horticultural Society. He is a contributing editor to Harpers magazine and a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine.