Glenny, George (DNB00)

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GLENNY, GEORGE (1793–1874), horticultural writer, was born 1 Nov. 1793. He was apprenticed to the watchmaking, but early showed a taste for flowers, which was wisely encouraged by his father. In ‘a few words about myself,’ addressed to the editor of ‘Lloyd's Newspaper’ a day or two before his death, Glenny wrote: ‘Sixty-seven years ago I had a very fine collection of auriculas and twenty rows of tulips, and visited several good amateur growers, from whom I received great encouragement and occasionally presents of plants and flowers. I cultivated my stock at Hackney. … From observation of the doings of the most successful amateurs I had become a very successful grower of the auricula, the tulip, ranunculus, polyanthus, and other florists' flowers. I had learned something from everybody and took many prizes.’ It is related of him that in after years he once entertained fifty-seven guests at his table, and was able to set before each individual a silver prize-cup won in showing auriculas, dahlias, tulips, and roses as an amateur. His first literary attempts appeared in the ‘Antigallican Monitor’ and other forgotten prints. In 1820 he contributed a series of letters to a publication called ‘The British Luminary,’ of which he became editor. Soon after he became associated with a paper called ‘The British Press,’ and then editor of the ‘Royal Lady's Magazine and St. James's Archives,’ to which the Ettrick Shepherd, Miss Pardoe, Miss Mitford, the sisters Strickland, and others contributed. As a writer of authority on horticultural subjects his efforts date from 1832, when he started the ‘Horticultural Journal,’ and commenced the papers on the ‘Properties of Flowers,’ which may be regarded as the most important of his works. The object was to formulate ‘rules for judging flowers by a perfect model, instead of by comparison with popular favourites.’ Other writers, like Maddocks, had attempted to draw up rules for the purpose, but Glenny maintained, with reason, that these ‘criterions,’ of which the best collection is given in ‘Loudon's Encyclopædia,’ were incomplete and ill-defined. From this time Glenny acted as editor of various new ventures, the ‘Gardener's Gazette,’ the ‘Garden Journal,’ the ‘Practical Florist,’ ‘Glenny's Journal,’ &c. As an editor he is described as exacting and quarrelsome. One of his literary ventures deserves mention. A reduction in the price of the newspaper stamp in 1836 caused the old ‘unstamped’ journals of advanced tendencies, issued by Hetherington of Holywell Street and others, to be replaced by little stamped sheets, equally anarchical in tone. Glenny proposed to buy up these mischievous publications, and reissue them as cheap journals of healthier tone, in which he was supported by several noblemen and gentlemen of position. The project ended in a loss of 2,000l., and caused Glenny to abandon politics. In 1832 Glenny started the Metropolitan Society of Florists and Amateurs, which has done much good service to floriculture. In 1839 he was one of the founders of the Royal Gardeners' Benevolent Institution, to which he subscribed the first twenty guineas. ‘One of his most important public services consisted in obtaining the removal of the absurd restraints to the enjoyment of Kew Gardens which were thought necessary in his earlier days. Here his slashing style told well. … For many years previous to his death his sole occupation was to contribute the garden column to “Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper,” and the work was most admirably performed’ (Gard. Mag. 23 May 1874, p. 269).

Glenny, who retained his faculties to the last, passed quietly away at his residence, Gipsy Hill, Norwood, 17 May 1874, aged 80. No complete list of Glenny's writings exists. That in the ‘British Museum Catalogue of Printed Books’ is imperfect and overladen with cross-references. Among them may be mentioned, in order of appearance, ‘Glenny's Almanac,’ started in 1837; ‘Gardening for the Million,’ 1838; ‘Cottage Gardening,’ 1847; ‘Every Man his own Gardener,’ 1848, based on the earlier work of Abercrombie, and adapted in Welsh by R. M. Williamson (Bardd y Môn) under the title ‘Y Garddwr Cymreig’ (Carnarvon, 1860?); ‘Properties of Flowers,’ originally published in ‘Horticultural Journal,’ 1832–5, but republished in a second edition in 1864; ‘Properties of Fruits and Vegetables,’ 1865. Some of Glenny's works have been edited, and the issue of the ‘Almanac’ continued, by his son, George M. F. Glenny, Paxton House Nurseries, Fulham, S.W.

[Glenny's Almanac, 1875; Cassell's Working Man, No. 25; Gardener's Chronicle, 23 May 1874, p. 676; Gardener's Magazine, ed. S. Hibberd, 23 May 1874, p. 269, with portrait; Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper, 24 May 1874.]

H. M. C.