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This is the compelling story of Jean Galbraith (1906-1999), one of Australia's most influential botanists and writers on nature, plants, and gardens. As a garden writer, Galbraith was particularly notable for spreading knowledge of Australian flora and encouraging the cultivation of native plants in home gardens. As a botanist, she wrote accessible field guides on Australian wildflowers that made a vital contribution to the conservation of native plants. She conveyed the wonders of nature to generations of children through her child-centered stories of adventures in the natural world. Her nature writing evoked the spirit of places she knew well and introduced readers to the beauty of the Australian bush.
During a writing career that began in the mid-1920s and spanned 70 years, Jean Galbraith developed new forms of garden writing in Australia and she turned botanical writing into a literary art. Her writing reached multiple audiences, both national and international: gardeners in Britain and America were intrigued by lyrical articles evoking the beauty of Australian flora, while field naturalists regarded her wildflower guides as 'glove box Bibles.' Jean Galbraith: Writer in a Valley also explores the relationship between a writer and her place, the Australian valley of the Latrobe River in Gippsland, bordered by the foothills of the Great Dividing Range to the north and the Strzelecki Ranges to the south, where temperate rainforest can still be found in the folds of the hills.
From her home in Gippsland, inspired by her surroundings, Jean Galbraith put her vision of nature into words and helped Australians of all ages to see their own landscapes in new ways. Along with looking at the life of a gifted writer who had a passion for nature, and an urge to share and conserve the beauty around her, important themes in Australia's 20th-century botanical, gardening, and conservation history are also explored.