Father of amateur gardening
The Victorian gardener Shirley Hibberd kept an astute, commercial eye on the interests of the amateur gardener. In the 1860s, while professional nurserymen subscribed to the Gardeners’ Chronicle, Hibberd launched a populist publication designed to cater for the tastes of the ordinary ‘villa gardener’, the Gardener’s Magazine. The magazine listed the proceedings of local garden societies under ‘Exhibitions and Meetings’ and shared titbits of advice. Hibberd himself was both an ardent advocate for vegetarianism and a pioneering environmentalist. He valuedued the compost heap, writing in Profitable Gardening: “You must treasure every scrap of stinking rubbish, solid and liquid, and not waste so much as a dead cabbage leaf.” On the threat of potato blight, which had recently ravaged Ireland, he declared: “If someone now lamenting that he has lost half his crop, should rise up and say he bestowed every care upon it, I should say ‘You didn’t.’” His forthright manner led him into a public spat with rival magazine owner, William Robinson, then the wealthiest garden writer of the time.
Twice married, the second time to his 28-year-old cook when he was approaching 60, Hibberd lived and gardened in London.