Crazed vegetables, Elizabeth Enright's mother, and gardening in times of war

It was strangely appropriate that, while I was reading Bones of Faerie, which features crazed vegetables fighting their planters, I should receive an invitation to a war gardening event* bearing this picture:

Curious to know who the creator of such demonic potatoes was, I looked further, and found another war gardening poster, in which the vegetables are even more insane:

The artist is Maginel Wright Enright Barney, a children's book illustrator from the first half of the twentieth century who was the sister of Frank Lloyd Wright and mother of Elizabeth Enright.

Enright is one of my favorite children's book authors, and features a World War II victory garden in one of her books, Then There Were Five. The children in that book decide to do help the war effort, in part part by expanding the vegetable garden. While Rush and Randy head off in the surrey to collect scrap, poor little Oliver is left behind to weed the massive garden: "Weeds....He knew plenty about them by now. There was one called purslane, with a lot of fat, pink tentacles, that grew up overnight in countless numbers. There was quack grass, coarse and hardy, its roots stretching under the earth in endless nets. There were yellow dock, and lamb's quarters, and velvetleaf...such stubborn boring little enemies."

I am fascinated by Victory Gardens, and the Women's Land Army. On my list of books to read is Fruits of Victory: The Woman's Land Army of America in the Great War (aka WW I), by Elaine Weiss. I think this would make a great basis for a YA book--a young girl in her first year, at, say, Bryn Mawr leaves college to head off to the war gardens of California to become a farmerette.

The only YA fiction book I know of that focuses on the Women's Land Army is A Strange Enchantment, by Mabel Esther Allan. It's about an English girl in WW II who signs up, goes through the rigorous training, and heads out to farm...it's very good, one of my favorite books in fact. Although this is a UK book, it was also published in the US, and was bought by many US libraries, so do check to see if your system still has it!

*for anyone in the Greater Providence RI area who might be interested, "Green Zones: From the War Garden to Your Garden" will take place Tuesday, May 5th, at 5:30, at Firehouse 13, 41 Central Street, Providence. More information can be found here: http://www.greenzonegarden.wordpress.com/

Updated to add: "The tomatoes, they come out of nowhere, or just in weird places," Liu said. Read more about the future of robotic gardening here.


  1. What a fascinating sounding event! And I've seen those pictures before!!! How strange that she's Elizabeth Enright's mother...!

  2. These are just wonderful. Thanks for letting me know about them. I will definitely have to find out more about this.


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