London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1863. First edition. With a hand-colored lithograph frontispiece by Noel Humphreys. Includes commentary by Humphreys on his frontispiece design (p. viii). Some cracking to cloth along lower joint. Brick red coated endpapers with binder’s ticket on lower pastedown. Some soiling to endpapers. Small contemporary ink signature to upper margin of title-page. Some occasional light foxing but overall a very good, clean copy of an uncommon work. Publisher’s green cloth with gilt title on spine. Octavo. xix, 274, 32 [publisher’s catalogue] pp. Item #16885
The present work was written for middle-class Victorian women at a time when the concept of the “houseplant” was still emerging in Britain. The first twelve chapters detail which plants are appropriate to grow in each month of the year; the second half of the book explains topics like how to plant from seeds and cuttings, the correct pots in which to grow plants, ideal locations for growing inside the home, and remedies for fungus and insects.
Elizabeth Anne Maling (1829 – 1866) was the author of almost a dozen books on home gardening, flower arranging, and birdkeeping, as well as novels. Her books include Song-birds, and How to Keep Them; the novel Cragstone Cottage; and Birds and Flowers, a gardening guide for children published by Emily Faithfull’s Victoria Press. In-door Plants and How to Grow Them (1861), Maling’s first work on houseplants, was a staple of the Victorian “cactus craze,” during which cacti and other succulents gained popularity as houseplants and began to appear in British art and poetry. Maling was also distantly related to Charles Darwin: before Maling’s father married her mother, he had been married to Harriet Darwin, Charles Darwin’s sister. Wells, Lindsay. “The Victorian Cactus Craze? Succulents in Nineteenth-Century Poetry.” Baylor University Armstrong Browning Library webpage (February 27, 2019).