Dear Louise Shelton,
Who are you? I know that you wrote a book in 1906 called The Seasons in a Flower Garden: A Handbook of Information and Instructions for the Amateur.
I know that you likely gardened and lived in New Hampshire.
I know that you once had a little spaniel named Idol, who for twelve years was your shadow in your garden, because you dedicated your book to him.
Perhaps you are the lady in white who stands in the midst of this large flower garden?
I suspect you had good intentions in writing your book. Who would write a book about gardening with other than good intentions?
I moved along pretty well through your book admiring the photos, including this one of “an ideal garden”.
I kept in mind, of course, that when you wrote your book, this may indeed have be an ideal garden. Should I ever decide to uproot my own garden and turn it into a Victorian style garden, your book will be one of the first books I’ll consult.
If I may offer a word of advice for your book, perhaps you should consider removing Chapter XXV title “Don’ts” from future editions? To put it bluntly, this list of 46 items, all starting with the word “don’t”, could cause even the most experienced gardener to wither in the garden and leave her standing there, rooted in place, wondering what she could do that wouldn’t violate one of these statement. They just seem so stifling, like a hot, humid summer day.
I know you meant well with your chapter of Don’ts and might argue that each is a useful piece of information. I suspect that many of these statements could be incorporated elsewhere in the book, where the subject of each is treated a bit more fully. Or perhaps you could turn each statement into a “Do” instead of a “Don’t”.
I fear that an inexperienced gardener could misconstrue your intent and try to follow each one of your statements exactly. The result would be a Garden of Don’ts, which is likely to turn out poorly and might even turn a budding gardener away from gardening. I know you would not want that, Louise.
I have no other complaints about your book, and find it to have been an enchanting rabbit hole. As I wrote in the beginning of this letter, I have studied this picture of a flower garden in the front of the book and wondered if that is you in the center and if this is your own garden.
If it is you and your garden, I congratulate you on your success. It appears to be a lovely garden, hardly hampered by rules of “don’t”.
P.S. Happy Birthday, Violet Fane.