Our next Lost Lady of Garden Writing is Mrs. Francis King. She was the editor and sometimes the author behind all of the books in The Little Garden series published in the 1920s.
Truth be told, she’s not lost! Not like the other garden writers we’ve been looking for this summer.
Mrs. Francis King was easy to find.
In an article published by the New York Botanical Garden, they revealed that at one time she was considered “the fairy godmother of gardening”.
Quoting that article:
“Mrs. Francis King (Louisa Yeomans) 1863-1948 was once the most widely read horticultural columnist and author in America. Her columns appeared in prominent newspapers and magazines and were read by millions during the period between the two world wars. The era was characterized by a flourishing garden culture that aimed to beautify America one garden at a time and where every garden means a home. The Beautify America Movement was led by wealthy civic-minded individuals, like Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, who established magnificent gardens on their own property which served to not only embellish their elegant mansions but also inspired millions of middle-class Americans to build their own beautiful gardens. Mrs. King’s own garden in Alma, Michigan was a superb example of the extraordinary residential landscapes constructed by leading exponents of the Beautify America movement.”
And how can a garden writer be lost if her papers are housed in the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University?
In looking for Mrs. King, and easily finding quite a bit of information, I also ran across Garden Moxie’s blog post about visiting Mrs. King’s garden in Michigan. It’s interesting to read what became of the house and garden after Mrs. King sold it following the death of her husband in 1927.
Mrs. King had a goal for little gardens. In the preface of The Little Garden, she wrote:
Those words are still true today which in my mind makes Mrs. Francis King a garden writer who should be remembered for a long time for her contributions to gardening and garden writing in the 20th century.
As I climb out of this rabbit hole of the first group of Lost Ladies of Garden Writing who worked with Mrs. King and wrote books in The Little Garden series, I looked for but couldn’t find any site on the internet where all the books were listed in order. So I made a list.
As near as I can tell, The Little Garden series of books that were written or edited by Mrs. Francis King. Include:
- The Little Garden by Mrs. Francis King (1921)
- Peonies in the Little Garden by Mrs. Edward Harding (1923)
- Variety in the Little Garden by Mrs. Francis King (1923)
- Design in the Little Garden by Fletcher Steele (1924)
- The Little Garden for Little Money by Kate L. Brewster (1924)
- Roses in the Little Garden by G. A. Stevens (1926)
- The Little Kitchen Garden by Dorothy Giles (1926)
- Iris in the Little Garden by Ella Porter McKinney (1928)
- Spring in the Little Garden by Frances Edge McIlvaine (1928)
I think that’s all of them. If anyone knows of other books in the series, I’d love to hear about them.
Now go get the kids and head out to a garden! Your nation is counting on you!