Shewell Cooper

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Dr. Wilfred Edward Shewell-Cooper, M.B.E., N.D.H., F.L.S., F.R.S.L., F.R.H.S., Dip. Hort. (Wye) (1900 - 1982) was a British organic gardener and pioneer of no dig gardening. He was the author of Soil, Humus and Health (1975) , The Royal Gardeners (1952), Grow your own food supply (1939), The ABC of Vegetable Gardening (1937) and many other books on gardening. He was the founder in 1966 of the Good Gardeners Association. For many years his gardens at Arkley Manor were open to the public so his no dig methods, symbolised by a robin resting on a spade handle, could be seen first hand.



He married Irene, with whom he wrote a cookery book Cook what you grow (1940). He had two sons Ramsay and Jeremy. His son Ramsay continues to promote his no-dig gardening approach, and a demonstration plot may be seen at Capel Manor College in Enfield in conjunction with the Good Gardeners' Association as of 2008.


He was born at Waltham Abbey, Essex in 1900 where his father was a major in the Royal Artillery and at the time the assistant superintendent of the gunpowder factory there. Moving from there to Blackheath then Penarth. Then before the outbreak of the first world war the family set sail on the Galaka for South Africa where they lived in Rondesbosch. While there he went to school at Diocesan College, Rondesbosch then to Monkton Combe School outside Bath in England.

Arkley Manor

In 1960 he moved to Arkley Manor, as recommended by Sir John Laing, which was to be his home for the rest of his life.


Over the course of his life, Shewell-Cooper held a number of positions, some of which are listed below:

  • Fellow of the Horticultural Society of Vienna
  • Director of The Horticultural Educational and Advisory Bureau
  • Principal of the Horticultural Training Centre
  • H. Superintendent of the Swnaley Horticultural College
  • Horticultural advisor to the Warwickshire and Cheshire County Councils
  • Garden editor of the B.B.C. North Region
  • Command Horticultural Officer, S.E. and Eastern Commands 1940-48


His published works include:

  • The ABC of Vegetable Gardening (1937)
  • The ABC of Fruit Growing (1938)
  • Grow your own food supply (1939)
  • Cook what you Grow (1940) with Irene Shewell-Cooper
  • The Amateur Greenhouse (1940)
  • The Royal Gardeners (1952)
  • The ABC of Gardening
  • The ABC of the Greenhouse
  • The ABC of Flower Growing
  • The ABC of Garden Pests and Diseases
  • The ABC of Cloche Gardening
  • The ABC of Flowering Shrubs (1953)
  • The ABC of the Rock Garden and Pool
  • The ABC of Bulbs and Corms
  • The ABC of Soils, Humus and Health (1959)
  • Herbs, Salads and Tomatoes (1961)
  • Cut Flowers for the House (1970)
  • Soil Humus & Health (1975)
  • The Compost Fruit Grower (1975)
  • The Compost Flower Grower
  • Basic Book of Flower Gardening (1976)
  • Guide to Salads and Herbs
  • Guide to Soil, Humus and Manuring
  • Guide to Roses
  • Guide to Dahlias
  • Guide to Tomatoes
  • Guide to Pruning Fruit Trees and Shrubs
  • Guide to Carnations
  • The Gardener's Diary

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