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Academic & Professional Books  Botany  Plants & Gardens

An Almost Impossible Thing The Radical Lives of Britain's Pioneering Women Gardeners

By: Fiona Davison(Author)
294 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations
An Almost Impossible Thing
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  • An Almost Impossible Thing ISBN: 9781915068378 Paperback Apr 2024 In stock
  • An Almost Impossible Thing ISBN: 9781915068217 Hardback Sep 2023 Out of Print #262480
Selected version: £12.00
About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

While working as Head of Libraries and Exhibitions at the Royal Horticultural Society, Fiona Davison came across a cache of letters from a young gardener who was denied a scholarship by the RHS on the grounds that she was female. Intrigued by what happened to young Olive, Fiona began to research the wider story of early female professional gardeners and discovered a group of pioneers who battled derision and prejudice to change expectations of what women gardeners could do.

An Almost Impossible Thing follows six women gardeners in the years before the First World War, and examines their lives in the context of suffragism, collectivism and Empire. Although gardens are often seen as a refuge, a place to escape from the troubles of the modern world, this book looks back to a period when British gardens were an arena for radical and far-reaching experiments. A time when the ability to cultivate land was mobilised by a group of convention-busting women who wanted to change the world.

Customer Reviews


Fiona Davison is the Head of Libraries and Exhibitions at the Royal Horticulture Society. She is also the author of the acclaimed and best-selling book The Hidden Horticulturists: The Working Class Men Who Shaped Britain's Gardens.

By: Fiona Davison(Author)
294 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations
Media reviews

– A Top 10 Book of the Year in Gardens Illustrated
– A Book of the Year in RHS The Garden

"I devoured Davison's book [...] the realities of domestic life for young women to the end of the First World War are vividly evoked on every page of the book, making it a revealing document of social history."
– Ysenda Maxtone Graham, TLS

"Fiona Davison [...] has written an engaging, thought-provoking account of "quiet revolutionaries hidden in plain sight": the unmarried sisters and daughters who, in the dog days of the nineteenth century and beyond, chose to dedicate their lives to horticulture [...] Delightful, quirky and very human details animate Davison's well-researched narrative."
– Matthew Dennison, The Daily Telegraph

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