Cottage Gardens and Gardeners in the East of Scotland, 1750-1914

Cottage Gardens and Gardeners in the East of Scotland, 1750-1914

Catherine Rice


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Much criticised as weed-infested, badly cultivated and disfigured by the dung heap before the cottage door, eighteenth-century cottage gardens produced only the most basic food crops. But the paradox is that Scottish professional gardeners at this time were highly prized and sought after all over the world. And by the eve of the First World War Scottish cottage gardeners were raising flowers, fruit and a wide range of vegetables, and celebrating their successes at innumerable flower shows.

This book delves into the lives of farm servants, labourers, weavers, miners and other workers living in the countryside, to discover not only what vegetables, fruit and flowers they grew, and how they did it, but also how poverty, insecurity and long and arduous working days shaped their gardens. Workers' cottage gardens were also expected to comply with the needs of landowners, farmers and employers and with their expectations of the industrious cottager. But not all the gardens were muddy cabbage and potato patches and not all the gardeners were ignorant or unenthusiastic. The book also tells the stories of the keen gardeners who revelled in their pretty plots, raised prize exhibits for village shows and, in a few cases, found gardening to be a stepping-stone to scientific exploration.


Catherine Rice:
Catherine Rice has been researching aspects of working-class history in Scotland since retiring as an English language lecturer in Dundee.