Exhibition of gardening literature at Fisher Library in Toronto

Garden Making

How does my garden grow catalogue cover
Cover of exhibition catalogue

A wonderful exhibition of gardening literature was featured at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto.

The exhibition of British and Canadian works on horticulture from the library’s collections (augmented with some private loans) is a fascinating review of how books, catalogues, periodicals and other media have helped to spread knowledge about gardening over the centuries. The title of the exhibition, “How Does MY Garden Grow: The Education of a Gardener,” is inspired by Russell Page’s The Education of a Gardener, a work which perfectly combines mastery of the history and craft of gardening with a deep and personal love of plants, says Anne Dondertman, Acting Director of the Fisher Library and a gardener, who devoted several years to assembling the exhibition.

The exhibition in April-September 2012 used the rich printed and manuscript resources of the Fisher Library. The exhibition approaches horticultural history from the particular viewpoint of how people learn to cultivate plants — both historically and as individual gardeners today. As outlined by Dondertman, there are three main sections:

  • Learning from the written word, beginning with the teachings of antiquity and moving on through five centuries of printed knowledge as recorded in books, periodicals and now online sources.
  • Learning from observing plants in the wild, in public and private gardens, and in botanical gardens and commercial nurseries.
  • Learning from our own experiences as gardeners, as documented in the personal records of individual gardeners in their own plant lists, diaries and garden journals, and blogs.

The accompanying catalogue prepared by Dondertman is generously illustrated.

Garden Making is honoured to have been included as a more recent example of the continuum of resources for gardeners.

A video about the exhibition was made by Anne Dondertman:

Fisher Library exhibition
From the Fisher Library exhibition

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is located at 120 St. George St. in Toronto.

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