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Old Herbaceous is a classic British novel of the garden, with a title character as outsized and unforgettable as P. G. Wodehouse’s 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.
I adore this book. In a time a world away from the one we live in now, it still resonates with the truth of one's love for a fine garden and the pride that comes with attaining that goal with great thrift. In addition, it takes readers through the Victorian age to the Edwardian, a shift that at that time finally showed that the sun could set on the English Empire, and that it would do so. Societal changes are shown in the greenhouse and garden. What a wonderful way to learn social history! Highly recommend.