by Pleasance Crawford
Dorothy Perkins was the name of a popular turn-of-the-century rambler rose. It was also the pen name of the author of at least two contributions to the literature of Canadian gardens. Dorothy Perkins wrote The Canadian Garden Book (Toronto: Thomas Allen Publisher, 1918), a 116=page work urging Canadians to experience the joys of gardening; and a description of the Japanese gardens at Lady Eaton’s country estate, published in Canadian Homes and Gardens in May 1927. In that issue, a who’s who of contributors revealed that “Dorothy Perkins is the name by which a very pleasing young Toronto writer, Adele Austin, has chosen to hide her personal identity.”
During the teen, ‘20s and early ‘30s, Toronto city directories included both Adele H. and Adele M. Austin. Adele H. Austin lived at 65 Oriole Road, and served for a time as treasurer of Austin & Co., Ltd., her family’s wholesale jewellery business. She was listed by the Rose Society of Ontario as a member in its 1914 and 1927 annuals. Adele M. Austin lived at Spadina, 285 Spadina Road, the garden-surrounded home of her parents, Toronto Gas Company president Albert E. Austin and Mary Austin. Descendants of the Austins of Spadina are certain that Adele M. Austin was not Dorothy Perkins. In fact, Adele H. Austin of 65 Oriole Road is the more likely candidate. In The Canadian Garden Book, Dorothy Perkins described – at a level of detail suggesting her own involvement – the large allotment garden organized by a committee of women to further the war effort. That garden was on Oriole Parkway, just below Oriole Road.
©Pleasance Crawford. If you quote from this short essay, a citation would be appreciated.