A rumour went forth, and the town was aglow
From Greenwich to Richmond, from Peckham to Bow -
And the man-in-the-street made a fine how-de-do,
When he heard of the ladies who gardened at Kew.
They gardened in bloomers, the newspapers said;
So to Kew without waiting all Londeners sped:
From the roofs of the 'buses they had a fine view
Of the ladies in bloomers who gardened at Kew.
The orchids were slighted, the lilies were scorned,
The dahlias were flouted, till botanists mourned,
But the Londoners shouted, 'What ho, there, Go to;
Who wants to see blooms now you've bloomers at Kew.'
So the botanists held a big meeting and said; -
'This won't do, all London has gone off its head;
This costume we find is too painfully "new",
It is making a side-show of beautiful Kew.
These ladies in bloomers are treated as freaks;
In future they'd all better garden in breeks.'
Now they look so like men no one rushes to view,
And a pastoral quiet has settled on Kew.
The first women gardeners at Kew were appointed in 1896 and were required to wear the same uniform as the men so as not to distract their male colleagues.
From Gardening Women; their stories from 1600 to the present by Catherine Horwood.