March is unpredictable. One day it’s windy, the next day calm. Sprouts of green spring up from mud and buds begin to swell on bare branches of trees. Around the middle of the month, people cheer about their ancestry, start dancing a jig and profess a belief in leprechauns and fairies. Then when an entire hour suddenly disappears, everyone gets very emotional about it. We celebrate Women’s History during all of these disruptions, and it seems a perfect time as women often navigate these tempestuous events behind the scenes.
During my garden travel, I have learned so much about women’s history and their contributions to gardens. None of these stories are likely to appear in a high school history book, be it American or World focused. Yet, these stories are rich in helping us understand how we have the world we do today. Napoleon (nearly always in a history book) won and lost battles. When he won, he had his soldiers dig up the trees and carry them home as part of his conquests’ loot. I realize there is a need to edit but someone decided history would focus on battles and government. Perhaps this is why women’s stories are less well known.
The world is a more beautiful place because of gardens and women have played a significant role in making this true. Landscape designers designated where to plant trees, shrubs, flowers and improved the space around a home. Gardeners planted, trimmed, water, weeded, and created beauty, food, and a place for respite. The stories are inspiring and easily overlooked, but I want to celebrate them this month. I have written many stories about these contributions; here are just a few for you to enjoy.
A Garden legacy, The Ruth Bancroft Garden, the woman who inspired the North American Garden Conservancy.
Vall Kill Cottage and Eleanor Roosevelt’s favorite flowers.
Virginia Robinson, an inventive gardener and grand hostess of 1930’s Hollywood, was still gardening and busy planning her 100th birthday party when she died.
Lilla Leach, a 1908 Botany graduate of the University of Oregon, discovered new plant varieties in the Northwest.
It is, after all a woman, Beatrice Potter, who first takes many of us into the garden with Peter Rabbit’s adventures.
These are just a few of the history-making women who have shaped our landscape. There is so much to learn about this world, and gardens are exceptional classrooms