London: Wm. S. Orr & Co., 1839. First edition. Original publisher's cloth over card embossed in gilt and blind. All edges brightly gilt. Spine sympathetically rebacked. Armorial bookplate of Sir Charles J. J. Hamilton to the front pastedown; ownership sample of the same C. H. to verso of front endpaper and to rear pastedown. Marginal paper repairs to fore-edges of the first nine leaves not affecting text. Internally a pleasing copy overall. Collating , viii, 96: complete, including half title and additional engraved and hand-colored title page. Scarce institutionally and in trade, OCLC reports three copies, with this being the only one on the market.
Designed for the amateur botanist interested in developing, constructing, and overseeing her own garden without the condescension of specialists, Johnson's pocket sized volume sought to fill a gap in the market. "I have been induced to compile this little work from hearing many of my companions regret that no single book contained a sufficiently condensed and general account of of the business of a Flower Garden. 'We require,' they said, 'a work small in compass, which will enable us to become our own gardener: we wish to know how we may set about everything ourselves...without being deluged with Latin terms and technical terms.'" Thus from the outset, Johnson positions women and women's demands as central -- capable of demanding a marketable book, aware of their own needs, and unafraid to articulate the specific needs that emerged from the separate training they received from men inclined toward botany. The result is a practical guide that can be carried in an apron pocket into the garden for reference, and which develops a florticulture that "may be carried into effect by any lady." Included are chapters on annual and perennial flowers themselves, under their familiar names, as well as instructions on the laying out of bulbs, and monthly notices on maintenance and care. (Item #4207)