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Miss Willmott of Warley Place

Audrey Le Lièvre

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Born in 1858 to a wealthy family Ellen Willmott owned three gardens, in England, France and Italy, and employed one hundred and four gardeners. She mixed with royalty and her name was associated with the greatest gardeners of her time, Gertrude Jekyll, William Robinson and E. A. Bowles.

In 1894 she joined the Royal Horticultural Society and in 1897 she was one of the first sixty recipients (and one of only two women) to receive the Victoria medal of honour. Warley Garden in Spring and Summer, a book of photographs, was published in 1909 and in 1912 she published The Genus Rosa. In the same year she was awarded the grande médaille Geoffroi St Hilaire from the Société d’Acclimatation de France and in 1924 received the Dean Hole medal from the National Rose Society. An acknowledged and admired expert in her field Ellen Willmott died in 1934 aged 76, alone and nearly bankrupt.

First published in 1980 this carefully researched biography is a fascinating account of a woman who was infamous in her time and whose mark can still be seen on the horticultural world today. Miss Willmott of Warley Place is republished to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Ellen Willmott’s birth.