April in the garden 1949

Garden2 copyWe are looking longingly at the garden, we want to be clearing up and planting but we have been away and the weather has hardly been spring-like. So we have been reading old gardening books. Bought because we loved the sequential illustrations (and more of that in another post) they provide a glimpse into gardening history.

And so to  ‘Practical Home Garden Illustrated – A sound and comprehensive guide to garden planning and maintenance by Richard Sudell. 1949. Whilst a list of April tasks in a modern book would just raise our anxiety we can read the list from 1949 and gently smile.  We can say with authority that we will not be sewing pumpkins, gourds and globe beet under glass, our gladioli corms will not be set rather deep to avoid staking and we will not be training and pollinating our melons and stopping and training our vines. Unfortunately we are not preparing our marrow beds with well-rotted manure covered in 6 inches of soil or sewing our fresia under glass for greenhouse decoration.


Which is all rather pity as I would love to be the man in the planting his shrub during a mild spell in February wearing a particular natty hat and a sports jacket.


But back to our fantasy garden and if you listen very, very carefully, in the distance, you can hear us  preparing our celery trenches…..or maybe its just the neighbourhood squirrels digging up the bulbs whilst we sit looking at 1940’s and 50’s illustrations of rockeries, and ornamental ponds and huge vegetable gardens whilst the rain pours and pours….

About TheBigForest

TheBigForest. A silly artist maker creating in felt and paper construction. Like us on Facebook: TheBigForest. Find us at Twitter : twitter/TheBigForestuk


  1. Hey, is that Ward Cleaver….lol!

  2. I have done nothing in the garden this year yet! I could do with a man in a natty outfit to come and revamp my garden for me!

  3. What a spiffing outfit for gardening in! The mild spell in February would have been nice too!

    • Although the book was first published in ’49 , and the illustrations are of a piece and seem to be created for this book, there is a definite pre-war look to the fashions. There is a large section about preparing a garden after the builders have left and the photos show a 30’s semi. Given post-war building restrictions it wasnt a problem most folk were having at the time. We did wonder if the book had been prepared in 1939 and then mothballed.
      I love that he looks so cool and effortless even though he is supposed to be doing physical labour!

  4. ann perrin

    What a great post love the nostalgia x

    • Thanks Ann. I must post some of the 50’s and 60’s books too. The ’49 book looks to the past whilst the 1959/1960 books are all ‘drip dry’, low maintence gardening, the celery trench begining to be replaced by the island alpine bed!

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