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Persephone book no:

Gardeners’ Choice

by Evelyn Dunbar and Charles Mahoney

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 Pansies and Violas, a 1946 oil on canvas by Evelyn Dunbar (on display at Pallant House)

PREFACE BY EDWARD BAWDEN
AFTERWORD BY CHRISTOPHER CAMPBELL-HOWES

256pp
ISBN 9781910263044

Gardeners’ Choice is the second gardening book we publish. The first is Persephone Book No. 66 Gardener’s Nightcap by Muriel Stuart – and we apologise for any confusion the similarity of titles may cause. Both books were originally in black and white and both are published in facsimile; also each one is idiosyncratic and informative; and would be an excellent present for any gardener.

The authors of Gardeners’ Choice had first collaborated on a mural at a school in Brockley and in 1936 were asked to write ‘a really new book’ about gardening. Cyril (always called Charles) Mahoney had taught Evelyn Dunbar at the Royal College of Art and she was asked by him to work at Brockley. When they did the book together it did not occur to either of them to sign their drawings, with the result that we have no idea apart from intuitive appraisal who drew what. In the same way we do not know if the text is Charles’s or Evelyn’s.

The writing is quite serious and is for the truly dedicated gardener – there are detailed descriptions of the plants that the two devoted gardeners would ideally choose for a garden. But the main delight of the book is the drawings – black and white illustrations that have never been reproduced since their first publication in 1937. The reason for reissuing it now is that two years ago a cache of 500 of Evelyn Dunbar drawings and paintings were discovered in a house in Kent: someone had brought a Dunbar work to the Antiques Roadshow and seeing it had prompted the owner of the archive to get it down from the attic. An exhibition at the Pallant Gallery in Chichester is the result (it ran from October until February 14th 2016). NB: In addition, we had a small selling exhibition in the shop of some of the Evelyn Dunbar drawings that are not on display at the Pallant.

Endpaper

The endpaper design for Gardeners’ Choice is taken from the original jacket for the book (which was done in three colourways, pink, orange and green).

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Categories: Country Life    House and Garden   
 

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