Book Review: Onward and Upward in the Garden – by Katharine S. White












Book: Onward and Upward in the Garden
Author: Katharine S. White; edited by E. B. White
Publisher: various
Date 1977; reprint editions available
Genre: gardening
Pages: 392
Price: $17.95 and up
My rating: impressive collection of very interesting essays 


Katharine S. White was an editor at the New Yorker for thirty-four years. Near the end of that job she began writing garden pieces in a column called Onward and Upward in the Garden, and over the next twelve years her series grew to fourteen pieces in print. Katharine had become a well-respected garden writer who researched thoroughly for each piece.

Katharine was convinced by a writer friend that her garden essays were worthy of being published as a book, but it wasn’t until after Katharine’s death that it happened. Her husband, E. B.White – author of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and other books – collected, edited, and, in 1977, published his wife’s work into the book Onward and Upward in the Garden, named after the column that started it all.

This is not my usual reading; however, I found it very interesting. It’s almost a memoir, although the author revealed very little about her personal life in her writing. Her focus was centered on varying aspects of gardening, and she wrote with humour in all the right places. The historical and detailed information she shared is impressive.

Mrs. White wrote a critical, but not harsh, review of the seed catalogues current at the time. As a passionate gardener, she expressed her joy of some specimens, her disgust of a few others, and her ideas of how to improve both the catalogues of seeds and plants and the gardens into which they would be planted.

Found at the beginning of the book is a very fitting introduction written by E. B. White. Following the fourteen chapters listed below is an afterword by Jamaica Kincaid – novelist, essayist, gardener, and gardening writer.

Chapters of Onward and Upward in the Garden:

  1. A Romp in the Catalogues
  2. Floricordially Yours
  3. Before the Frost
  4. The Changing Rose, the Enduring Cabbage
  5. War in the Borders, Peace in the Shrubbery
  6. Green Thoughts in a Green Shade
  7. For the Recreation & Delight of the Inhabitants
  8. An Idea Which We Have Called Nature
  9. The Million-Dollar Book
  10. The Flower Arrangers
  11. More about the Arrangers
  12. Winter Reading, Winter Dreams
  13. Winterthur and Winter Book Fare
  14. Knots and Arbours – and Books

Following the Afterword is listed a section called Seedsmen and Nurserymen, which precedes the section Books in Print.

For anyone who loves gardening and a quiet informative read, Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katharine White is a book to enjoy. It is full of information about flowers, flower selection, seed catalogues and nurseries, flower shows, historic facts about people and plants, and the feeling of listening to a friend.

You can find Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katharine S. White on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on,, Goodreads, and on Chapters.Indigo if available there.

Your comments are very much appreciated.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂


2 responses to “Book Review: Onward and Upward in the Garden – by Katharine S. White

  1. That sounds very neat! I think I will try to find the book! 🙂


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