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Gardening: It’s Not All Unceasing Drudgery

3/22/2011 5:09:34 PM

Tags: books, gardening books

Cheryl Long, the editor in chief here at MOTHER, handed me a few old books a couple months back that were given to her by a rare-book expert, Keith Crotz. I’ve been meaning to flip through the books, and this afternoon, while cleaning up my desk at the end of the day, I finally picked one up.  

It’s called How to Make the Garden Pay and it was written in 1890 by T. Greiner. I opened to the “Preliminary Remarks by the Author,” and this was the first sentence I read: 

“Gardening, in the minds of average people, is a dreadful combination in its requirements of skill and unceasing drudgery.” 

Garden work 

For whatever reason, the sentence left me sitting here, smiling widely. Probably because I adore old books and unique language, and because I’m happier in a garden than anywhere else on Earth. “Unceasing drudgery” — what a descriptor! Greiner goes on to say: 

“To disabuse the minds of the masses of this only too common error, to convince people in rural districts, and in the suburbs and the cities, that gardening in reality is a very strong combination of pleasure, health and profit, and to point out the ways and means how to relieve the task of all semblance of drudgery — that is one of the aims, and perhaps the chief one, of this volume.” 

I can’t wait to read more of this book. I don’t need any convincing that gardening has no semblance of drudgery, but I’m more than up for taking in the gardening vibe and vernacular of 1890. Plus, I like the mission: I constantly share with others, in all forms of flowery exclamations, the joys of gardening.

If you’re interested in Greiner’s book, it’s available online through the University of Connecticut Libraries. Turns out, we’ve quoted from it in the magazine before, in The Wheel Hoe: A Modern Weed Slayer.

Do you have any old gardening books that you love? 


Shelley Stonebrook is MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine’s main gardening editor. She’s passionate about growing healthy, sustainable food and taking care of our environment. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and .

Photo from Flickr/Creative Commons 



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