Shirley Hib­berd

Father of am­a­teur gar­den­ing

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - GARDENING CLUBS -

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.

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