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E. O. Petersen - male or female?

Posted by MikeHardman Hampshire, UK (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 21, 03 at 19:00

I've just been reading E. O. Petersen's The Culture of the Polyanthus, Primrose, Primula, Auricula, Cyclamen, and Pansy, Viola and Violet, 1945.

It is not a cornerstone of Viola literature, and it is rather naive botanically, but it has some points of interest. However, I cannot find out if the author is male or female. He/she published one or two gardening books in New Zealand in the 1940s-50s. That is all I know about him/her.

Can anybody shed some light on the matter for me please?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: E. O. Petersen - male or female?

Hi Mike,
The author is one Eric Olaf born 1889. I suppose there were not that many female authors in print then.
Cheers Liz Gardiner
ps Violets are at their peak here in Oz!

RE: E. O. Petersen - male or female?

Brilliant - thanks everso Liz!
Where did you find that out?
Cheers, Mike

RE: E. O. Petersen - male or female?

Diane Arthur of Touchwood Books in Hastings, NZ writes that E.O.Petersen was a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture.


RE: E. O. Petersen - male or female?

We're all mad!! I too found Touchwood books but then decided to go to NZ Library catalogues. I found the book in question and a few others on pruning and fruit. A Roy Genders of NZ. Fortunately, Fortunately I found a comprehensive catalogue!
I wish I could just have said I dragged it up from General Knowledge but......

It was exciting to hear about a new reference on Violets though. I hear rumours, from time to time,
of books penned by Peter Robinson and a Mike Hardman!!!... experts in the field. Can anyone verify????

RE: E. O. Petersen - male or female?

Diane at Touchwood told me the same thing (they must have wondered what was going on!)
Well done for finding that catalogue, Liz.
Rumour, rumour...

RE: E. O. Petersen - male or female? - further

Further - I've just had an email from Diane:

"Dear Mike,
This is extraordinary.
I have had three enquiries about EO Petersen in three days: yours and one each from Australia and California.
What's happening?
I contacted Dr Keith Hammett, Englishman living in NZ and an expert on Dahlias, Clivias and Sweet Peas among other things. He says Petersen is definitely male, writes well and on a wide variety of topics and thinks he was a park superintendent.
Keith writes books and is happy to look into this. His email is and he looks forward to hearing from you."

I'll drop Keith a line, though I actually have pretty much all I was after now.

Thanks again to everybody in this little global network!


RE: E. O. Petersen - male or female?

Further info, from Keith Hammett, with whom Diane put me in touch:

"Dear Mike and Diane,

My spies did well and found an article or note about E.O. Petersen in the September 1, 1954 edition of the New Zealand Gardener magazine, vol 11 [or maybe 2 ?], page 77. A picture of Eric appears on this page.

Pertinent bits are: "Eric Olaf Petersen is a descendant of one of the early whalers...he devotes his spare time to chasing up new ideas and tracking down rare Auriculas, Geraniums and Pelargoniums of which he has probably the largest collection in New Zealand. He is also a collector of old gardening books and the total when he last counted was more than 450 volumes.

He has spent a lifetime in large scale gardening and for the last eighteen years has been Head Gardener to a large hospital near Wellington [Porirua actually]"

Independent information established that his son Peter [?] taught at one stage at the NZ correspondence school.

So far we have been unable to find an obituary.

Thanks for the enquiry Mike. It just confirms that we need a publication comparable to Desmond's which details British Botanists and Horticulturists, for this part of the world.

I do not have an email address for Liz in Oz, but you may care to pass on this additional snippet to her. She is clearly a kindred spirit.

Kind regards,
Keith Hammett."

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