If you’re looking for an entertaining gardening story, “The Lost Garden,” by Helen Humphreys is a feel good read. This novel follows the adventures of Gwen Davis, a lifelong horticulturalist in WWII England, who has left her work with parsnips and The Royal Horticultural Society to find adventure at an abandoned country estate. “The Lost Garden,” seems geared more toward female gardeners, especially those who garden with Old World plants or often select plants for their garden based on history or sentiment.
“The Lost Garden” starts out with Gwen Davis leaving London where she worked for the Royal Horticultural Society. Her work days had been spent in a solitary manner attempting to find a cure for parsnip canker. Gwen enjoyed her job, since like many gardeners she prefers solitude, but she also feels exhausted by the night raids and living daily life in a shell shocked London.
Gwen is in her 30s, unmarried, and is essentially on her own in the world. When she sees a job listing to oversee the growing of food for the Women’s Land Army at a country estate she applies. Gwen arrives to find herself in charge of a reluctant group of young girls who’ve been living alone for weeks at the abandoned estate.
As a lifetime horticulturalist Gwen is completely absorbed by her gardening. There are comical moments such as her severe love for her multiple volumes of “The Genius Rosa,” which are massive, very heavy and seem one of her few traveling needs. Sections of the book can also be sad, yet hopeful, as Gwen goes through the life altering changes of WWII England.
Throughout the story excitement is provided by everything from another house on the estate occupied by young officers, to a mysterious ghost who steals chickens on the grounds as well as Gwen’s discovery of a secret garden only she has found. Through the book Gwen discovers herself, determines the meaning of the mysterious garden and finds love in a variety ways she never could’ve expected.
If you enjoy books that took place during WWII, and are looking for a gardening romance with more gardening than romance this could be the perfect book for you. Once you’ve finished this novel, which is a quick read, you might even have a few antique plant varieties to add to your winter catalog order list. “The Lost Garden,” by Helen Humphrey’s can be found online at both Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
If you would like to see the book at Amazon.com click on this link:
The Lost Garden: A Novel