“Genuine flowerhood consists in glorifying God,” wrote one anonymous geranium partisan in the July 1914 Scribner’s, defending the “ill-regarded plant” from early-century gardenistas. I couldn’t agree more. Geraniums have never done me wrong—I’ve had blue-ribbon examples of their luscious redness screaming right through to December. Best of all, they hate to be doted upon too much, which is my first interview question with any plant. “Plants with grievances, plants with ‘rights,’ plants with chips on their shoulders, have something profoundly the matter with them,” the author wrote. “No wonder they suffer from sudden, mysterious blights.” Floral fashions change like hemlines, but gardening, as Virginia Tuttle Clayton discovers in The Once & Future Gardener, her charming new collection of popular garden writing from the first few decades of the 20th century, has always offered an index to the gardener’s ideology, a mirror on the meaning of life. Clayton lectures on “Nationalism in the Garden: The Role of Popular Magazines, 1900-1940” at 2 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 737-4215. (Bradford McKee)