Introduction
~
The point has been made before that although Elizabeth Lawrence
gardened in the South-first in Raleigh, and then in Charlotte,
where for many years she was the garden columnist for the
Charlotte
Observer-her
writings about gardening are not merely of regional
interest. In one of her essays on horticulture originally published in
the
New Turker,
later collected in
Onward and Upward in the Garden,
Katharine S. White noted that even though she lived in Maine she
had "learned more about horticulture, plants, and garden history
and literature from Elizabeth Lawrence than from any other one
person." She went on to say that Miss Lawrence's first book,
A South-
ern Garden,
originally published in
1942
and reissued in
1967,
was
"far more than a regional book; it is civilized literature by a writer
with a pure and lively style and a deep sense of beauty." Lawrence
herself had second thoughts about the aptness of the subtitle of her
book,
A Handbook
for
the Middle South,
writing later that it actually
was a handbook for Zone
8
on the hardiness map of the
USDA-
territory that embraces the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Tidewater
Virginia, much of both the Carolinas, and parts of other southern
states westward into Texas, as well as a thin band of the Pacific coast
well into Canada. Elizabeth Lawrence was furthermore an assiduous
letter writer, and the letters she received from gardening friends all
over the country and used in all her writing assure that although she
was solidly rooted in the South and its horticultural practices and
traditions, her perspective was national and in no way merely local
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