Old Time Gardens

Alice Morse Earle

Originally published in 1901, Old Time Gardens by Alice Morse Earle was one of the most popular and influential garden books of the early twentieth century—and one of the first to be extensively illustrated with photographs. With the recent revival of interest in historic gardens and heirloom plants, Old Time Gardens has once again become a valued, if hard to find, resource for gardeners and landscape designers, and historians. This new edition, featuring an introduction by landscape historian Virginia Lopez Begg, makes this classic work available to a new generation of readers. Old Time Gardens celebrates the plants and garden designs of early America. Distinguished by its inviting style, wealth of detailed information about plants, design and garden ornaments, and captivating descriptions and photographs of historic gardens, the book is still regularly cited in books and magazine articles, and recommended on web sites. Earle’s advocacy of historic garden designs was rooted in her strong sense of the garden as a place to live in, and to interact with nature, family and friends, according to Begg. For Earle, the significance of gardens lay not just in their design and plants, but also in their association with the people who cultivated and used them. Accessible, informative, inspiring, and lavishly illustrated, this classic work is still a valuable resource for gardeners, landscape designers, and an essential volume for garden historians.

Cover Image of Old Time Gardens
Paper: $12.95
ISBN-13: 9781584654186
Pages: 536 | Size: 5.25 in. x 7.25 in.
Date Published: January 21, 2005


  • Earle, who was from Massachusetts, wrote with fascinating details and anecdotes about old gardens and newer gardens of her era that took inspiration from the past. The many photos are a trove for readers interested in restoring an old garden.

    Boston Globe
  • One of the best books in my collection . . . Old Time Gardens makes wonderful bedtime reading, especially in winter, because each chapter can stand alone. History and poetry are mixed into every chapter along with the plant lore and traditions.
  • Old Time Gardens is a book so well written that each of the twenty-two chapters can be read independently . . . In addition to providing captivating descriptions and information about historic gardens from New England to Philadelphia, Earle offers the fruits of extensive research into the plants of the Colonial era. Among the treasures of the book are the two hundred vintage photographs of America's gardens as they existed around 1900. Old Time Gardens should find a place on the shelf of gardeners and historians as well as Colonial Revival enthusiasts. For long winter nights or tedious aeroplane journeys, it offers far more diversion than the latest thriller. Earle's wealth of knowledge about American gardens and the people who made them is still inspiring a hundred years after the book was first published.

    Hortus: A Gardening Journal
  • There are interesting anecdotal stories throughout the book and a wonderful collection of historic garden photographs all in black and white. Discussed are colonial garden design, sundials, garden furnishings, borders, moonlight gardens . . . and other old garden favorites. This book on old-time gardens is as useful today as it was in 1901 and delightful to read..

    National Garden Clubs

About the Author

ALICE MORSE EARLE (1851–1911) was a popular writer of the Colonial Revival movement. She was the author of seventeen books, many of them about daily life in early America, especially in New England. Thanks to her meticulous research and the timelessness of her writing, a number of these books are still in print. VIRGINIA LOPEZ BEGG is a landscape historian and designer, and author of numerous articles about the role of women in shaping the American landscape, particularly through the garden literature of the 1860–1940 period.

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