This weekend, Will once again contributed to my collection of quaint, odd books from the first half of the 20th century, this time with Garden Flowers in Color by G. A. Stevens (1933). This small hardback contains 310 color plates of the most common garden flowers and ornamental shrubs of the time with entertaining (if not very instructive) commentary. People who knew me in my former life as a Southern Lady will remember that I can be quite an avid gardener when provided with a proper yard, and Mr. Stevens waxes poetic over some of my favorites:

Forsythias, or Golden-Bells, are brilliant and yellow-flowering shrubs abloom in early spring. They rank among the most graceful and ornamental of all woody plants if allowed to grow naturally as the good Lord meant they should.


Early Tulips are the maddest and gayest of spring garden flowers, coming when the whole world is hungry for bright color, which they provide in full and overflowing measure.


Probably there is not a single person in the world who can look upon a Wisteria vine with its abundant purple blooms without experiencing a tug of longing for something far away and unattainable, for the beauty of the Wisteria is something too ethereal to be expressed in words of ordinary speech, and its appeal to the imagination is redolent of balconies and moonlit nights.

By contrast, he’s strikingly reserved about roses (I’ve never been crazy about them myself):
The world has chosen the Rose as its favorite, and the Rose in response has assumed multitudinous forms.

You can go elsewhere for tips on soil, water, and propagation. Stevens gives you insight into the soul of a proper garden.