Last year, in honour of International Women's Day, we took a deep dive looking at some (but by no means all) of the amazing plantswomen from past to present who have dug away at society's inequalities with their gardening prowess. You can read that article here, but there were so many to choose from that we've dived back in for round 2!
Mary Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort, 1630-1715
In a world dominated by men, Mary Somerset became the first woman to become a household name in horticultural circles of the time. At the time, botany enthusiasts and science types where carting plant specimens back from far flung corners of the world, building collections and starting botanical gardens to further study plants. Until this point, women hadn't even been allowed through the front door on this, but the Duchess used her wealth and connections to challenge this. She built a collection that would become the basis of Oxford Botanical Garden, and was first to bring back many of the plants that continue to be favourites in the UK. She had a penchant for succulents and her heated greenhouse at Badminton House was the first of its kind, and we can thank her for the pelargonium as we know it today. Cheers, Mary!
Beatrix Havergal, 1901- 1980
Beatrix was avid gardener and educator. Along with her partner, Avice Sanders, she established a school of horticulture for ladies, first in the grounds of Pusey House and then at Waterperry House in Oxfordshire. Beatrix was renowned for her formidable determination as well as her gardening skills. Probably fed up of men telling her what to do, she was passionate about both theoretical and practical training and sharing this with other women.
Apparently, her sense of dress and lofty stature inspired Quentin Blake's illustrations of Miss Trunchbull in Roald Dahl's Matilda, though from what we can gather she wasn't really the type to swing a student around the playground by their pigtails.
Beth Chatto, 1923-2018
'Right plant, right place'
If you're even vaguely a garden nerd, then you've probably heard of Beth. She was a champion of taking an ecological approach to planting, encouraging people to build a deeper understanding of the space they have and what plants would naturally work there. Practicing what she preached, she transformed a relative wasteland into her now world famous gardens and nursery, which you can still visit today. Definitely worth a day trip.
The Land Gardeners, today