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White Poppy by Centuira V. Elizabeth Blackwell. Herbarium Blackwellianum, Nurnberg, 1765
Plate 88 from The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, by Mark Catesby, 1771
Frontispiece by John Gerarde. The Herball or General Historie of Plants, 1633

Gardening by the Book:
Celebrating 100 years of the Garden Club of America,

May 15 - July 27, 2013

To celebrate the Garden Club of America’s Centennial, the Library Committee is presenting highlights from the GCA’s rare books collection at an exhibition at The Grolier Club. Located at 47 East 60th Street in New York City, the exhibition is open to the public without charge Monday - Saturday, 10:00 am - 5:00pm. The "Gardening by the Book" exhibition catalogue is available for purchase:

The exhibition has been reviewed by a number of media sources including The New York Times, Library of American Landscape History, and ArtfixDaily.com Click on the links to read each review.

From the time of GCA’s inception, national committees were formed "to act in regard to needs that appeal most urgently to the club." One of those needs was "garden literature." The Library Committee was formed in 1914 to encourage donations and to purchase both rare and lending library books for its members. Donors to the Library read like a who’s who of GCA history.  

The collection was meant to be studied as well as to be admired. It comprises about 500 volumes and includes 19th and 20th century gardening magazines, 18th to 20th century books on landscape design and flower arranging, horticultural dictionaries, botanical books and manuals, garden books by GCA authors of the 20th and 21st centuries, letters from Gertrude Jekyll, and first editions of Rachel Carson’s books, including Silent Spring. One of the oldest books in the collection is a 17th century Gerarde Herball; one of the more recent acquisitions is a bound set of early 20th century South African journals with hand-painted botanical plates.   

The Grolier Club was founded in New York City in 1884 to nurture "the literary study and promotion of the arts pertaining to the production of books, including the occasional publication of books designed to illustrate, promote and encourage those arts." It is the leading book club in the United States. The Clubhouse and Library are located at 47 East 60th Street, one block from GCA Headquarters. This is the second GCA exhibition to be held at the Grolier. The first, "Plant Illustration Before 1850," was held in 1941.  

"Gardening by the Book" honors 100 years of the Garden Club of America and will be of particular interest to the seasoned book collector and fine art printers, as well as the gardener, garden designer, architect, environmentalist, and naturalist.

The exhibition and its fully-illustrated catalogue is underwritten by a generous grant from the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Foundation with additional support from the Furthermore Foundation, a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.

- Arete Warren, Curator

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