The Garden of Ignorance by Mrs. Marion Cran

The Garden of Ignorance cover

The Garden of Ignorance by Mrs. Marion Cran is one of several books that she wrote about gardening, she was born in 1879 and died in 1942 and apparently she was the first female to broadcast about gardening on radio in the 1930s. This book is undated but the foreword was written in 1924, and in it Marion Cran mentions that the book was written nearly a dozen years earlier. Elsewhere she says that it’s the third year of World War 1 which of course began in 1914. I haven’t been able to find out much about the author but within the book she does mention that she opened her house up to convalescent soldiers. I’m sure they were all officers though. She also mentions that she did some nursing during the war, I suspect it was of the very genteel variety though – no blood and guts involved. She was the daughter of a Church of England vicar and had a fairly grim upbringing I think, but she must have married a wealthy man as the amount of land that she’s able to use for her garden designs seems massive. She claims to be frugal and to rein in her plant orders at nurseries but in reality she’s ordering rose bushes by the hundreds.

This book was obviously inspired by Elizabeth von Arnim’s Elizabeth and her German Garden, although Cran calls her husband the Master, not The Man of Wrath. It was a steep learning curve for her as at the beginning she’s a very inexperienced gardener but by the end of the book she has realised that it’s important to put a plant where it will be happiest, rather than where she thinks it will look best.

She mentions lots of plants but I think there were only one or two rose varieties that I recognised, I suspect they’re now unavailable. Cats feature too. There are eight black and white photos of bits of her garden and cats. She tries hard to be a bit whimsical and amusing but she isn’t as successful at it as some other garden writers, but I’ll definitely keep a lookout for her other books.

4 thoughts on “The Garden of Ignorance by Mrs. Marion Cran

  1. I love old books like this one, so much of their time. Another of your good finds, Katrina.

    (btw, I’ve located the bookshop in my local town – no wonder I’ve never found it before! It was closed but with a number to call so I’ll call to arrange to be in town at a convenient time. I can see it being a blog post in its own right!)

  2. I love old gardening books like this one, too. A search on Google shows quite a few of her books for sale, but, except for a $0.99 Kindle edition of one of them (and I don’t think a gardening book would be good for Kindle), most are quite pricey. I’ll have to just keep my eyes open for them.

    • Joan,
      If I were you I would just get the Kindle edition as it only has eight black and white photos and not much in the way of illustrations, just some plans of her rose gardens so it’s not that exciting in that way.

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