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Lester Rowntree — A Hardy Californian

Articles: Lester Rowntree — A Hardy Californian

The author, in the Regional Oral History Office of the Bancroft Library, interviewed Lester Rowntree during the compilation of the Library’s document on her. Levenson has provided the Introduction to a new edition of Lester Rowntree’s Hardy Californians, just published by Peregrine Smith. This article is adopted from that introduction.

Hardy Californians is in paper covers and is available at bookstores or from Peregrine Smith, Inc., 1877 East Gentile Street, Layton, Utah, 84041. It costs $8.95 and, when ordered from the publisher, $0.75 for postage and packing.
Lester Rowntree started her career as an independent naturalist in her fifties and earned a modest but enduring fame for two pioneering books, Hardy Californians (1936) and Flowering Shrubs of California (1939). These small masterpieces, recording her observations of California’s native flora, are in the tradition established by the eighteenth century English naturalist and clergyman, Gilbert White. This tradition links close observation with love of the natural world. Lester described her methods in Flowering Shrubs:
I have approached the plants from the gardener’s, not the scientist’s standpoint, hoping that my accou...


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