Few people have owned a copy of The Wild Garden, yet it is one of the most influential books published in the history of gardening. Published in 1870, it was revised many times during Robinson's long life. It challenged the prevailing formal bedding style, advocating a naturalistic approach, using hardy perennials and annuals to provide long-lasting, self-perpetuating displays in the same way as they do in the wild. The book has a special resonance for Irish gardens and gardeners, not simply because Robinson is Irish and trained as a gardener in Ireland. The style of gardening he advocates succeeds very well in the Irish landscape and climate and, some might say, appeals to the Irish character. This edition, the first published in Ireland, is augmented with captivating photographs of plants discussed by Robinson and notes by Charles Nelson, whose introductory essay sets Robinson and his book in context.
William Robinson aged 26 in 1864 (by courtesy of Lieutenant-Colonel P. Haslett) Frontispiece Introduction ix Acknowledgements xxv Part I - Explanatory 1 Part II - An Enumeration of Hardy Exotic Plants 21 Part II - Indexes to families in Part II 22 Part III - Selections of Hardy Exotic Plants for Naturalization 89 Part III - Addenda 125 Part IV - The Garden of British Wild Flowers 141 Part III - Additional notes on the original text of Part IV 200 Index to names of plants shown in the illustrations 202 Index to gardens and places where photographs were obtained 205
William Robinson (1838-1935), 'The Father of the English Flower Garden', left Ireland about 1861 and thereafter lived in England. He worked in the Botanic Gardens in London but gave up practical gardening in 1866 to become an extremely successful journalist, author and publisher. In 1885 he purchased Gravetye Manor in Sussex, where he established a renowned garden, still extant. He travelled extensively and often visited Ireland and the gardens now classified as 'Robinsonian'.
Charles Nelson was senior research botanist and horticultural taxonomist at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin. Author or co-author of many books about plants and gardens, he is an acknowledged expert who presented RTE radio programmes about Irish gardeners. His latest book, An Irishman's Cuttings - Tales of Irish Gardens and Gardeners, Plants and Planthunters (2009), includes two essays about William Robinson.