Gardeners best know Judy McMaugh for her classic horticultural reference book, What garden pest and disease is that? A more recent title is her ambitious history of the New South Wales nursery trade titled, Living Horticulture: The lives of men and women in the New South Wales nursery industry. At over 600 pages long, this is the first major account of the New South Wales nursery trade.
Beginning her research in 2000, McMaugh soon discovered that it was beyond her ability to document the entire history of the local nursery trade especially the early developmental period in the nineteenth century. She therefore limited her scope of study to nurseries active after 1900.
The book includes studies on a broad range of nurseries. These include general production nurseries, specialist plant growers as well as general retailers. Most of the 160 plant nurseries listed were active in the period following WW2 and are linked in some way to the publishers industry association. This nursery industry association connection may explain why a number of important nurseries are not mentioned in the book. Living Horticulture is well laid out but has the most atrocious cover I have seen in ages and I’m sure this will be a turn off many potential readers.
One of the highlights of the book are the many photographs used to illustrate the work. There are dozens of shots of nurseries showing displays, production sheds, shop fronts and nursery staff. I especially loved the images of the old Rast Brothers from Turramurra, Paul Sorensen’s Leura nursery in 1932, and the modern Baulkham Hills Garden Centre in c.1959.
|The Rast Brothers|
Judy McMaugh should be congratulated for her work in uncovering the lost history of so many local nurseries. This book will be popular reference with garden historians and should be included in every NSW public library collection.
Living Horticulture: The lives of men and women in the New South Wales nursery industry by Judy McMaugh, Nursery & Garden Industry NSW & ACT, Rouse Hill, NSW 2155. ISBN 0-646-44782-3