Today, my Dad would have turned 101 years old! He’s been gone for 27 years now, but I cherish my very special memories of him. They keep him close to me every day. The last time we drove past our old family home (pre-pandemic), his rose garden was flourishing! It warmed my heart to see his beloved roses in bloom, still gracing the old neighborhood with their beauty.
My reading in April really dropped off, due to some happy busy-ness. Reading time was given over to Spring garden projects, a visit from our daughter for the first time in most of a year, and the call to be outdoors by the return of very pleasant weather.
I was able to finish two books in April. The first one was Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell, (which I loved). The second one was The Consequences of Fear, by Jacqueline Winspear, (a fun addition to her Maisie Dobbs series). I also made a little more progress in my long-term project of reading The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee, a book that is both painful and fascinating to read.
I must confess that not spending so much time reading during the day was delightful. It is simply wonderful to be outside in the sunshine after the long gray days of rainy winter/early spring in the Pacific Northwest.
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:
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 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.
This book is also part of My Garden Reading.
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
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!
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.
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.
- Gertrude Jekyll, by Twigs Way
- The Ugly Vegetables, by Grace Lin
- We Are the Gardeners, by Joanna Gaines and Kids
- Green Green: A Community Gardening Story, by Marie and Baldev Lamba
- Wangari’s Trees of Peace, by Jeanette Winter
- The Writer in the Garden, edited by Jane Garmey
- Argentinian Adventures: A Planthunter in Argentina, by John Lonsdale
- Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, by Marta McDowell
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!
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.