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Anne recently contributed to the 'Make History' programme on BBC Radio 4

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Anne Wilkinson - Author and Historian

Shirley Hibberd

Shirley Hibberd: The Gardener Who Knew It All

During my research on Victorian gardening I became interested in Shirley Hibberd, an amateur gardener in north London, who I knew had written a book with an extraordinary title: Rustic Adornments for Homes of Taste. When I tried to find out more about him, I realised that although references to him appeared in all books on Victorian gardening, very little seemed to be known about him. When I read his obituaries, I was amazed to discover that he was not just an amateur: he had actually written a dozen gardening books and was editor of three different gardening magazines. In fact he turned out to be the first in a line of famous gardening personalities, continuing with names such as Percy Thrower, Geoff Hamilton and Alan Titchmarsh.

 
Shirley Hibberd - Garden
Shirley Hibberd's Garden
 

Hibberd taught himself gardening, and then taught it to others. He carried on his own experiments to discover the best strains of fruit, vegetables and flowers to recommend to his readers. He started flower shows in London, promoted all sorts of products, not all connected with gardening, and also wrote in favour of protecting birds, insects and wild flowers, and was concerned about the use of fertilizers and the waste of water, long before it became fashionable.

 
Shirley Hibberd - Garden Plan
The Plan of Shirley Hibberd's Garden
 
I have been researching the life of Shirley Hibberd for over ten years and my book on him should be available in 2010. Keep watching this website for more information.  
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