Category Archives: Gardens

The Solitary Summer

“In the Garden”, by Helen Allingham (British, 1848-1926)

The Solitary Summer, by Elizabeth von Arnim is a short and lovely summer read. It is a sequel to her famous book, Elizabeth and Her German Garden, which I read years ago and loved. Click here to read my review. Elizabeth’s idea for her solitary summer is described in the quote below from the book:

May 2nd.

Last night after dinner, when we were in the garden, I said, “I want to be alone for a whole summer, and get to the very dregs of life. I want to be as idle as I can, so that my soul may have time to grow. Nobody shall be invited to stay with me, and if any one calls they will be told that I am out, or away, or sick. I shall spend the months in the garden, and on the plain, and in the forests. I shall watch the things that happen in my garden, and see where I have made mistakes. On wet days I will go into the thickest parts of the forests, where the pine needles are everlastingly dry, and when the sun shines I’ll lie on the heath and see how the broom flares against the clouds. I shall be perpetually happy, because there will be no one to worry me. Out there on the plain there is silence, and where there is silence I have discovered there is peace.”

She did indeed have her solitary summer, even though husband and family were there at home with her. But she spent her days outdoors in the gardens and reading, and she had the freedom she so desired. Her ruminations on the books she read, and the flowers and plants she loves, are life-affirming. Her descriptions are lovely, and I felt as though I was there with her savoring that magical summer. All the way through the book I kept thinking of the saying: “If you have a library and a garden, you have everything you need.”  And she said it even more eloquently in the book:

What a blessing it is to love books. Everybody must love something, and I know of no objects of love that give such substantial and unfailing returns as books and a garden.

 

 

I read this book as one of my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.

 

 

I also chose this book to read for my personal challenge, WANDERLUST: Reading the World,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each of the countries of the world. This book took place in Germany.

 

…painting by Sally Rosenbaum

 

This book is also part of My Garden Reading.

 

 

Gardening At This Age

…a panorama (thus the distortion) of our veggie garden full of cover crops (red clover).

This garden is really too demanding for me at this stage in my life, but I know I shall never be able to restrict myself there. It has to be accepted that gardening is a madness, a folly that does not go away with age. Quite the contrary.

~ May Sarton, At Seventy

Early February in the Garden, 2020

…from The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden

One of the things I love about living in Oregon is that winters are mild and the “spring” garden really comes to life in January and February! I guess our reward for the very dark and rainy days of November and December are the early bulbs in bloom in early February! Around here, my gardening friends plant their Sweet Peas on President’s Day! That all just fills my heart with gardening joy!

These snapshots from my yard and garden give you an idea of what early February is like in an Oregon town 30 miles west of Portland, up against the Coastal Range, 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean!

 

January in the Garden, 2020

…from The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden

It’s been a strange January, weather-wise.  We had one very short sprinkling of snow that I would have missed entirely if I had slept-in another hour that morning! The temperatures have been unseasonably warm, and everything seems to be getting ahead of itself — one bulb blooming in early January, other bulbs coming up all over the place now. I’m not complaining, but it does seem unusual.

Here are some January photos from around the yard.

2019 October Read-a-thon: Wrap Up

…painting by Sally Rosenbaum

What a lovely day spent immersed in books about gardens, garderners, and planthunters! And this afternoon, I also spent time outside working in my own garden, planting bulbs, raking leaves, and preparing the garden for winter.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon is a very special event, and I’m so glad I was able to participate again this Fall! I’ve loved my themed reading for the last two read-a-thons so I’ll be tempted to do that same kind of thing for the Spring event.

Thank you to all of you who organized and made this event happen again! I’m sure Dewey would have been thrilled with the level of participation and with how wonderfully it is organized and managed. She left us too soon, but left a beautiful legacy.

Books Read:

One of my winter barrels…

2019 October Read-a-thon: Afternoon

CURRENTLY READING:

This afternoon I have been reading Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, by Marta McDowell. It’s such a pleasure to read, well researched, completely entertaining, and full of wonderful artwork and photos. I’m not rushing through it, although I’m making good progress. This may be the last book I read for today’s Read-a-thon, but that’s okay. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself and my reading about gardens and gardening project!

The Vegetable Garden in summer at Hill Top, Cumbria, home of Beatrix Potter. A wooden beehive sits in the bee bole, exactly as it did in Beatrix’s time, and tools are arranged among the vegetables in homage to Mr McGregor.

2019 October Read-a-Thon: Argentinian Adventures

My Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon continues! It’s a beautiful day outside, and the colors of leaves and fall-blooming flowers are just gorgeous throughout the neighborhood. So after lunch, I put on my earphones and went for a walk while listening to one of my chosen books. But now I am back inside and just finished reading a short book about a planthunter in Argentina

Argentinian Adventures: A Planthunter in Argentina, by John Lonsdale, is a series of essays about three of his planthunting trips to Argentina.

…from the author:

Argentina is a fascinating and endlessly varied country. This book accounts of three visits, the first of which was a three-month tour of the north of the country, collecting plants for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. This first visit encouraged me to undertake two further visits while still employed by Kew Gardens. Because of these botanical connections, there is a wealth of references to the fabulous flora of the region. Flora can’t exist in isolation to fauna, and animal life is discussed whenever it is chanced upon. Several exciting episodes imposed themselves into what became increasingly eventful journeys.

I love reading about planthunters! It’s such an interesting combination of plant information, culture, and travel. I enjoy looking up the plants they find, names in Latin, of course. And I do enjoy the travel and cultural parts of these experiences. This was a fun one for me because I was familiar with northern Argentina and many of the places he talked about, although not the remote areas.  Here are some of the plants he mentioned in these essays.

 

Read-a-thon: The Writer in the Garden

 

The Writer in the Garden is a collection of essays and poems on gardening. Jane Garmey edited this amazing book, and the collection is wonderfully varied and interesting. There are so many different takes on gardens and gardening, from observations by Charles Kuralt to personal anecdotes by E.B. White, and seasonal descriptions of gardens by Carol Bishop Hipps and Jamaica Kincaid, and excerpts from classic garden books by Vita Sackville-West, Gertrude Jekyll, and Celia Thaxter.

One of my favorite quotes from this book was a description by E.B. White about his gardening wife, Katharine S. White, toward the end of her life. The excerpt was taken from his introduction to her wonderful gardening book, Onward and Upward in the Garden, and it is a poignant glimpse of her planning her Spring garden knowing that she would not be there to see the garden bloom in early spring.

“As the years went by and age overtook her, there was something comical yet touching in her bedraggled appearance on this awesome occasion—the small, hunched-over figure, her studied absorption in the implausible notion that there would be yet another spring, oblivious to the ending of her own days, which she knew perfectly well was near at hand, sitting there with her detailed chart under those dark skies in the dying October, calmly plotting the resurrection. —E. B. White”

…Mademoiselle Gachet in the Garden, by Vincent Van Gogh

October 2019 Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon begins!

AND WE’RE OFF! My time for starting Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon today was 5:00a.m.  Luckily, I’m a morning person and am often up at that time anyway. I fixed my coffee and I’m ready to start reading…and reading…and reading! I love spending my Saturday with a total immersion into books. My reading today will be books with GARDEN at the heart!

Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon 2019

Tomorrow is the 2019 Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon and I’m ready and excited to start reading my pile of books!  When I participated in last April’s read-a-thon, I put together a list of books written for young people about art and artists. I enjoyed that themed reading so much I decided to put together a list of themed books for this read-a-thon, too. So this time, I will be reading books about GARDENS: gardening, gardens, gardeners, flowers, trees, plants of all kinds…books for all ages.  I think I will really enjoy my reading of books with GARDEN AT THE HEART!

I also plan to publish a couple of posts throughout the day with mini-reviews and thoughts on the books I finish.

Thank you to everyone involved in planning and running this fun reading activity! Have fun, everyone!

 

Roses, by Peder Severin Kroyer