Hobhouse, Penelope 1929–

views updated

Hobhouse, Penelope 1929–

(Penelope Malins)

PERSONAL: Born October 20, 1929, in Castledawson, Northern Ireland; daughter of James J. L. C. (a naval officer) and Marion Caroline (Dehra Chichester) Chichester-Clark; married Paul Hobhouse, May, 1952 (divorced, 1984); married John Malins (a professor of medicine), November 1, 1984; children: (first marriage) Georgina Dehra Catherine, Neil Alexander, David Paul. Education: Girton College, Cambridge, B.A. (with honors), 1951. Politics: Liberal. Religion: Church of England. Hobbies and other interests: Reading Anthony Trollope and Henry James; Italy.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—The Coach House, Bettiscombe, Bridport, Dorset DT6 5NT, England. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Garden designer, restorer, historian, lecturer, and consultant. Overseer of National Trust garden at Tintinhull House, Somerset, England, 1979–93. Host of television program The Art and Practice of Gardening, HGTV, 1996.

MEMBER: International Dendrology Society, Royal Horticultural Society, Garden History Society (member of council, 1976–84), National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens.

AWARDS, HONORS: Award of Excellence, Garden Writers Association of America, 1993, for Penelope Hobhouse's Gardening through the Ages: An Illustrated History of Plants and Their Influence on Garden Styles—From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day; Victoria Medal of Honour, Royal Horticultural Society, 1996; Lifetime Achievement Award, Guild of Garden Writers, 1999.



The Country Gardener, Phaidon (Oxford, England), 1976.

The Smaller Garden: Planning and Planting, Collins (London, England), 1981.

(Editor) Gertrude Jekyll on Gardening, Collins (London, England), 1985.

Color in Your Garden, Collins (London, England), 1985.

Private Gardens of England, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1985.

The National Trust: A Book of Gardening, Pavilion (London, England), 1986.

Garden Style, Frances Lincoln (London, England), 1988.

Painted Gardens: Watercolours, 1850–1920, Pavilion (London, England), 1988.

(Editor, with Patrick Taylor) The Gardens of Europe, George Philip & Son (London, England), 1989, Random House (New York, NY), 1990.

Flower Gardens, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1991.

(Editor, with Elvin McDonald) Gardens of the World: The Art and Practice of Gardening, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1991.

Penelope Hobhouse's Gardening through the Ages: An Illustrated History of Plants and Their Influence on Garden Styles—From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1992.

Plants in Garden History, Pavilion Books (London, England), 1992.

On Gardening, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1994.

A Book of Gardening: Ideas, Methods, Designs: A Practical Guide, Holt (New York, NY), 1995.

(With Simon Johnson) Penelope Hobhouse's Garden Designs, Holt (New York, NY), 1997.

Penelope Hobhouse's Natural Planting, Pavilion (London, England), 1997.

(With Giorgio Galletti) Gardens of Italy, Mitchell Beazley (London, England), 1998.

Soil: A Worm's Eye View, John Brown (London, England), 2000.

Propagating New Plants from Old, John Brown (London, England), 2000.

Pruning: The Right Cut, John Brown (London, England), 2000.

Planting: Putting down Roots, John Brown (London, England), 2000.

The Story of Gardening, DK Publishing (New York, NY), 2002.

The Gardens of Persia, photographs by Jerry Harpur, Kales Press (San Diego, CA), 2004.

My Mother's Garden: A Collection about Love, Flowers, and Family, Chamberlain Brothers (New York, NY), 2005.

Also author of introduction, Un jardin extraordinaire: Quatre-Vents, en Charlevoix, Québec, by Jean des Gagniers, Hortus Press (Cold Spring, NY), 2002. Contributor to newspapers and gardening journals, including Englishwoman's Garden. Editor of series "The National Trust Gardening Guide"; associate editor, Gardens Illustrated. Member of advisory panel, The Garden Line (Web site).

SIDELIGHTS: Penelope Hobhouse is respected as one of today's foremost garden designers. Her projects have been carried out in Spain, Germany, Italy, France, England, and Scotland, and her clients have included Britain's royal family, the Royal Horticultural Society, and the New York Botanical Garden. In addition to designing gardens, she frequently travels throughout Europe, the United States, and Australia to lecture on the subject matter. Hobhouse was once a strong proponent of structure and formality in gardening, but over the years she has become less traditional and more attracted to the idea of informal gardens and natural planting. Her books are more than how-to manuals, with the author commenting on subtle nuances and historical meanings within the realm of gardening. Commenting on her body of work in a Christian Science Monitor article, Christopher Andraea wrote: "Her books make you want to stop reading, go outside, and reorganize your own garden. They make few concessions to beginners. Her books are for serious, long-term, committed gardeners."

In The Story of Gardening, published in 2002, Hob-house takes a comprehensive view of the long history of gardening. Illustrating the way in which plants and garden designs have traveled around the globe through the ages, she shows how contemporary gardens reveal the influences of those long gone. Her book is both thorough and fascinating, according to some reviewers. Carol Haggas, a writer for Booklist, called The Story of Gardening "meticulously researched" and "magnificently rendered." The book's "comprehensive and inclusive" scope was praised by Brian Lym in the Library Journal; he noted it contained chapters on China and Japan, and even information about gardening among the ancient Aztecs. Another of her books covering this subject is Penelope Hobhouse's Gardening through the Ages: An Illustrated History of Plants and Their Influence on Garden Styles—From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. Complemented by high-quality illustrations, Gardening through the Ages "deserves high marks as an artifact, as well as a synthesis of information," according to Christopher Reed in Horticulture.

Hobhouse has also written numerous books on various practical aspects of gardening, including The Art and Practice of Gardening. While this book focuses on projects of a grand scale, it has many suggestions that can be adapted for smaller properties, according to Gordon Hayward in his Horticulture review. "You have to work with the ideas and make them your own," advised Hayward. Besides writing numerous books on various aspects of gardening practice, Hobhouse has also written several books celebrating the gardening traditions of various countries. One of these, The Gardens of Persia, was praised as an "elegant" work by Booklist contributor George Cohen. Hobhouse addresses the special challenges of gardening in a windy, desert climate, and comments on the spirituality that is an important historical aspect of Persian gardens.



Booklist, January 15, 1995, Alice Joyce, review of On Gardening, p. 885; December 1, 1997, Sue-Ellen Beauregard, review of Penelope Hobhouse: The Art and Science of Gardening, p. 647; December 15, 2002, Carol Haggas, review of The Story of Gardening, p. 716; February 15, 2004, George Cohen, review of The Gardens of Persia, p. 1016.

Christian Science Monitor, March 25, 1998, Christopher Andreae, interview with Penelope Hobhouse.

Country Living Gardener, winter, 2004, Dana Chin, review of The Gardens of Persia, p. 12.

Horticulture, February, 1992, review of Flower Gardens, p. 60; February, 1993, Christopher Reed, review of Penelope Hobhouse's Gardening through the Ages: An Illustrated History of Plants and Their Influence on Garden Styles—From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day, p. 65; February, 1995, review of On Gardening, p. 67; April, 1998, Gordon Hay-ward, review of Penelope Hobhouse's Garden Designs, p. 76.

Library Journal, February 1, 2003, Brian Lym, review of The Story of Gardening, p. 109; January, 2004, Paula Frosch, review of The Gardens of Persia, p. 102.

New York Times Book Review, June 1, 2003, Jamaica Kincaid, review of Colour in Your Garden, p. 16.

Publishers Weekly, February 22, 1993, review of Penelope Hobhouse's Gardening through the Ages, p. 93; March 1, 2004, review of The Gardens of Persia, p. 66.

Spectator, December 10, 1999, Victoria Glendinning, review of Garden Style, pp. 36-37.

Whole Earth Review, summer, 1992, Kathleen O'Neill, review of Flower Gardens, p. 62.


Penelope Hobhouse's Home Page, http://www.penelopehobhouse.com (February 8, 2006).