“Interest in flower arranging has increased in spite of the war. This may be explained by the fact that woman, with her love of beauty, turns to creating it as a way of escape from the cruel knowledge that, every day, beauty is being destroyed.”
The New Zealand Gardener, Vol 1, Issue 1, September 1944.
The New Zealand Gardener then and now
If you are not a regular reader of the New Zealand Gardener magazine, you may want to treat yourself to this month’s issue for nostalgia as much as the current content. It is the seventieth year of publication and to mark the occasion, the very first issue has been reprinted. Okay there is a bit of colour in it though I imagine the original was all black and white but it is both quaint and reassuring at the same time. The old fashioned courtesy and frugality is a reminder of times past. Honorifics are standard practice, with initials instead of christian names. Goodness, letters to the editor are to be paid at a rate of 5/-. By way of comparison, the purchase price of the magazine was only one shilling. That would make a modern letter worth $39.50, had the publisher continued with this largesse. A woman’s place is beyond doubt. It was of course during World War 2 that publication started in 1944 and that is a theme.
I used the word reassuring because quite a bit of the advice is still relevant today. Growing turnips, cape gooseberries or indeed delphiniums is not so very different now. If you are interested in the breakdown, there are seven pages on growing food crops and eight on “Science for the Gardener” (pests, disease, soil management and the like). The ornamental garden has nine pages and I particularly appreciated the column by ‘Silver Birch’ on the joys of importing rare bulbs. Not any longer with our border controls. Then “The Gardener’s Home” has eleven pages of recipes, advice and floral art. That section is by ‘Golden Willow’. Do we think she was married to ‘Silver Birch’?
The original issue comes as a free inclusion with the current September issue.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.