Well, back to the rain!
This afternoon I made myself a cup of tea and brought Merry Hall back down to the library and decided to stay a while.
I feel so lucky to have this beautiful room full of my most favourite books. Robert and I built this library/TV room. When I bought this house, there was a broken pipe behind a wall, and R and I had to take down the wall, fix the pipe and replace the plaster…etc. Then, we took all the Ikea Billy shelves I had and bought a couple more, then, we cut some down, screwed the rest together, built a ledge under the window, and that’s how we constructed this beautiful, bespoke library.
So, I turned on my “happiness lamp”.
And, on this cold, dreary, winter day, I thought about picking up my long neglected needlepoint, but, you know how it is, once you read one brilliant gardening book, you want to read more!
In this room, one entire book case is dedicated to R’s books: Alexander Kent, Robin Hobb, Terry Brooks, Michael Moorcock, Peter Cheyney. One entire case is dedicated to a joint love of Terry Pratchett, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse.
But one whole case is full of my gardening books, and those are my loves.
I suppose I have all the books I’ll ever need about gardening. I’ve got Gertrude Jekyll, RBG Kew books, Rachel de Thames, Monty Don and the books from almost all the other Gardeners World presenters, I’ve got all the wonderful books which I needed to study for and get my Master Gardener degree, and I’ve got an addiction to collecting vintage gardening books; there are plenty of those. But there are some books which I love so much, that I come back to them time and again. These books are so loved, that I wouldn’t want to be without them. I bet you know exactly what I mean.
I pulled out some of my favourites…it was so hard to choose…but I wanted to share them with you.
My first love, and the book I told you about before, is Elisabeth de Lestrieux The Art of Gardening in Pots. Oh my gosh, this is garden porn to the max!
I got this book before Amazon, and it wasn’t available in Canada. I sent my parents, and more to the point, a British relative, on a wild goose chase to find a copy for me. They came thru with a 1990 copy from the British Antique Collector’s Club. I love it today as much as I loved it then.
(PS. My hoya doesn’t look anything as stylish as this one snaking around this amazing window…also, I don’t have an amazing window like this one!)
My second best love is good old Martha Stewart Gardening. Oh come on, you know you loved her then. I have a strong bond with this book because, 20+yrs ago, I was expecting Chloe and in danger of losing her, and confined to bed for the last trimester of a high risk pregnancy. I sort of believe that this book, the hope of gardening in the future with a happy, healthy, fat and cherubic baby in Moses basket sleeping beside me while roses and irises bloom away, I believe that it saved my sanity.
Admit it, we all loved Martha of the old Turkey Farm years, before the Martha Inc.
But damn Martha anyway. The price of ironstone, hobnail and jadeite has absolutely gone thru the roof thanks to her.
One vintage book I would never want to be without is Roy E. Biles The Complete Book of Garden Magic. I searched and searched for this book for a few years, even looking in the vintage book shops in London, (only to be told that…well…it’s American…isn’t it…and a little too…er…new for the London shops), but I finally found a copy. (pre Amazon, remember?) Then I found a second, newer version, and, I’m afraid it may be like my Agatha Christies. Must save every copy of Garden Magic I find!
It’s full of the most wonderful advice…some I’ve never heard of but have followed with the best of success. One caution though, vintage gardening books are big on pesticides and herbicides. Guess they didn’t know any better back then…even the pesticide spray pumps were called “widow makers” for a reason…but then, we’re much more enlightened these days, aren’t we?
I have a thing for “Veronicas”, and read In Veronica’s Garden when my garden architect friend Adrian lent it to me, and then decided I needed to own it. This Veronica was Veronica Milner. She was born and raised at Glin Castle, Ireland, and she gardened right here on the West Coast. She was a friend of the queen and hosted some members of the royal family there, even Charles and Diana. She offered them a quiet respite from the paparazzi flashbulbs while they were visiting the Vancouver Expo on 1986. She is gone now, and her garden is safe in the hands of the University of Victoria, and people can come visit and experience the peace that is there.
Two absolutely fun books, which I read over and over are, The Gin and Tonic Gardener, by Janice Wells, and Tottering in my Garden, by Midge, Ellis Keebler.
The Gin and Tonic Gardener is a brilliantly written bunch of anecdotes by the witty columnist Janice Wells. Robert bought me this book for Christmas one year, and then he bought me her second book Another Splash of the Gin and Tonic Gardener. With a title like that, you know it’s going to be funny.
Tottering in my Garden, is the memoir of an East Coast Canadian gardeners, Midge Ellis Keeble. It’s one of the most rewarding, loving, heart-warming books I’ve ever read. It is in this book, where a young mother, who knows next to nothing and goes on to build one of the most beautiful gardens where her daughters got married in, that I first discovered Roy E Biles and his Garden Magic wisdom.
So there you go. Some of my favourite gardening books. And this post is long enough and I haven’t even scratched the surface of my collection, but perhaps that’s best left for another time.
In the meantime, I have a second copy of Tottering in my Garden here in my library. It’s practically brand new and I’d love to send it off to someone. I’d love to also include a little journal and maybe some art cards and maybe some other little surprises. So just leave me a quick message in the comments and I’ll do the random draw thingie this next Sunday.
Happy gardening friends. I’m sure the rain/snow/frost will end soon and spring will be greening and popping and springing up all over the place. 😀