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The Author

Mrs. King's Alma garden had been designed by a leading expert in the field and over time she developed regular contacts with many of the leading British and American gardeners of the early twentieth century. They recognized in her a woman of considerable talent both in the garden and with a pen and encouraged her to publish information drawn from her garden. In 1910 Mrs. King first article was published in The Garden. It discussed the beauty of continual successions of blooms and how plants can enhance each other to better the garden. Other articles followed, catching the imagination and attention of American gardeners.

Her first full length book, The Well-Considered Garden, was published in 1915, and was dedicated to her mother-in-law. King wrote nine gardening books between 1915 and 1931 as well as innumerable articles for such magazines as House and Garden, House Beautiful, Saturday Evening Post, Shelter and the Spur.

The Little Garden Her most productive period was during the 1920s. Particularly interesting are several books she wrote during this period, such as such as The Little Garden, Variety in the Little Garden, and, The Beginners Garden. that gave advice to those with small pieces of property. In all she wrote or edited nine volumes in the Little Garden series and her persuasive powers encouraged other professional gardeners and well known horticulturists, such as Charles Sprague Sargent, Ellen Shipman and Gertrude Jekyll to contribute to this series.

The "Little Garden" series was aimed at a new and much broader audience than Mrs. King had written for in her earlier work. Mrs.King's, as well as many other authors, had largely written gardening advice for women of substantial means who were interested in creating a garden to enhance the appearance of their very large homes. To help this affluent audience, in her first book Mrs. King included a discussion regarding the problems of managing hired help and offered the opinion that a satisfactory full-time gardener should be employable for about $100 month.

In the 1920's, however, King discovered a new audience in the burgeoning post-war suburbs. Gardens were the rage in these newly settled areas and Mrs. King's "little" garden books were targeted at the wives who by their own work would convert the small lots on which so many of these homes rested into tiny islands of nature. The Little Garden Series proved the vehicle for both her and her friends efforts to broaden gardening beyond those who could hire it done.

Part of King's success in twisting others arms to write foir the series was her generous praise of other authors. King and Gertrude Jekyll, for example, both loved color in the garden. Although King was the American master of garden color she was generous in her praise of the British Jekyll, The English author, who may have been one of the few in the era whose skill with color surpassed King's own, benefitted mightily from these kind words since her more difficult writings would not likely have been as influential had King not both popularized Jekyll's beliefs and regularly pointed American readers to her books.

In talking about gardens, Mrs. King discussed design, color, planning, and function with an emphasis on the garden as an entire unit of space. She had little to say about pests or diseases. Her interest lay in the garden as work of art. Design, not pest control, was her crusading interest. "It is the lack of plan that is responsible for most that is ugly in America."