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Posts Tagged ‘garden books’

Monday, 2 March 2020

At last I had the anticipated rainy day and could read the rest of the densely small print book, Modern Nature by Derek Jarman.

Skooter did not want to wake up; he dislikes rain.
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When he did stir, he joined me in my comfy chair.
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I loved Modern Nature so very much. It has more of the garden than the recently read Smiling In Slow Motion, simply because the author was in better health and able to spend more time at Prospect Cottage.

I would be hard pressed to say that I have ever read a gardening memoir with more gorgeous garden descriptions, partly because the seaside setting speaks to me. Derek’s garden in England’s Dungeness is on the shale beach in view of the ocean. His garden book has been a huge inspiration to me. I seem to have lent it out and have forgotten to whom!

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Here are just a few of my favourite saves. 

How we lose time in the garden:76CD5675-F646-4B34-868D-D0A39AE4DC98
When Jarman quotes from The Poetics of Space….

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….I have a quotation from that book on display in my garden: “The house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”

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I adore his appreciation for the mixed view, the sea and the shale and the lights of the nuclear power station.
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As I learned in his other memoir, Jarman likes to grow red geraniums (pelargoniums). He recommends the one called Paul Crampnel, saying the other modern colors are muddy.

My grandma’s red and pink geraniums:

geraniums

looking down the hill from the path of lawn…Gram grew a neat patch of pink and red geraniums backed with a line of roses. I often wish she had been alive during our present day richness of plant selection. mid 1960s.

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Every year, she planted this bed of geraniums.

And some geraniums which appear each year in Cannon Beach:

geraniums

geraniums

And the red and pink geraniums that we used to plant every year in Jo’s garden.

geraniums

geranium (pelargonium) walk

You can see Derek’s favourite geranium here. Because I am easily embarrassed and prone to feelings of inferiority, I have let myself be influenced by friends who make fun of red geraniums.  Well, to heck with that. The sharp scent of the leaves takes me right back to life with grandma.  I still have one red geranium from Jo’s garden that I have nursed along through winters as my grandma used to do with hers.
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I was surprised to learn that slugs and snails live on the Dungeness shale.

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I so much love what he wrote about disliking clothes shopping.  You can read the entire passage about it here in an article which includes one of my favourite photos of Derek in his garden.  He finds clothes shops “intimidating and rarely ventured into them”.

When he mentioned a friendly day out with author Penelope Mortimer, I was excited to learn that she had written more books than the ones I’d read back in my twenties. I have ordered those that the library has and will seek them all out.  He also alerted me to another memoirist, Keith Vaughan, whose book I have ordered online…there are only so many interlibrary loans I can make at one time.

Toward the end of this memoir, Jarman’s health rapidly worsens.  He had been diagnosed as HIV+ three years before; he spends time in hospital away from the garden as his condition tips into having AIDs.

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He was well cared for under the NHS, able to stay in hospital for as long as needed instead of being booted out as often happens here.

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He used Doris Day’s Que Sera Sera as a motto when ill.  Just a day or so before  reading this book, I was using it, too, over various health and future concerns.

Did Derek feel he would not be remembered?

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He will be.  I could read this every day and never tire of it:

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He might have feared for the future of his garden because of what happened to the garden of one of his gardening mentors.
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Now his Prospect Cottage garden is under threat  after having been preserved for decades. A fundraiser is trying to save it by the end of this month.

I have been inspired to try to add more driftwood artiness to the port gardens. This is not only from Derek’s ideas….

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…but also from memories of my Gram’s garden. Although none of the photos I have of her garden show it, I remember the driftwood in it. If any friend went to the beach, she would ask them to bring her back a piece, a few of which were substantial. I am sure she rewarded them with bouquets and baked goods.  Her low rock walls in her back garden were made in the same way, by asking everyone who visited her to please bring a rock. (She did not drive and so scavenging on her own was limited, and there was certainly not enough money to order a load of rocks.)

When I told Allan of my long held desire to add some driftwood posts to the port gardens (also a long unrealized desire for the boatyard garden), he said that I would worry that people would poke their eyes on them. No, the poles will be either tall or fat!  It would be hard to dig the holes in the rubbly soil. Then I will dig the holes! And so on. My main problem is that I know where to get some driftwood, but it is on a steep bank and I cannot do it on my own. Watch this space to see if it happens….probably without lobster claws on top.
Also watch for more Derek Jarman passages; I saved some that apply to certain plants and certain months. How I wish I had known him and could have joined him and his friends searching for rusty debris and perfect rocks with which to decorate the garden.

Read more about Modern Nature here.

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Monday, 15 July 2019

We had rain overnight, not enough to make me regret running the sprinklers, but enough to delay watering Long Beach and Ilwaco till Wednesday, with other jobs to do tomorrow.

I finished a book that I’ve been reading this week.

Gardenlust by Christopher Woods

Here are my takeaways (probably impossible to decipher if you are reading this on a phone, for which I apologize).

A poetic dedication

Each chapter is about a garden made in this century, mostly public gardens.

I loved that The Garden of Flowing Fragrance, in the Huntington Botanical Garden, has a “Pavilion for Washing Away Thoughts”.

Kevin Scales, who designed Quinta da Granga in Portugal. made me happy by not being formally trained:

It struck me as unusual and daring that the author would criticize a garden, in this case the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London:

I’d love to tour the gardens of Carrie Preston, a Dutch garden designer:

She likes fading tulips: “That is the prettiest moment for a tulip, just as they start to fall over in a sigh.”

I like this:

Landschaftspark, a garden built around the ruins of a former iron plant, is one I’d like to see.

Look, Gasworks Park gets a mention.  Although it is mostly lawn around the old Seattle gasworks, as I recall.

The photos show that Landschaftspark has much more of a garden feel.

About a public garden in Australia, and public gardens in general:

In a chapter showing high rise vertical gardens:

About her Fisherman’s Bay garden in New Zealand, Jill Simpson says:

Out of all the gardens, hers and Carrie Preston’s are the one I would most like to see.

Gardenlust has a combination of large and glorious photos and thoughtful, critical prose.  It is a heavy book, one that you will want to read in a comfy chair.  You can get it from Timber Press or, if you are lucky like me and have access to the Timberland Library system, they have a copy.

I got my blog caught up just now and, within minutes, Devery will be here to bring us her cat, Jazmin.  We are adopting Jazmin because Devery is going to visit family for awhile.  We hope she will return to the peninsula that she loves so much.

Meanwhile, the back bathroom will be Jazmin’s haven, with the tray of fresh green cat grass from Lezlie, lots of comfy sleeping spots, and her own litter box and her bed that will remind her of her home with Devery.  She once lived right next door to us in the Nora house.  Within a couple of weeks, we hope to have Jazmin incorporated into the entire household and, eventually, the garden.

Later:

We had a farewell visit with Devery.

One More very blurry photo of Jazmin in her new haven. She is an affectionate cat and was happy to be petted.

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In the effort to catch up in book reports, I will begin with the book I recently finished.  (This means I have skipped over the two Morville books by Katherine Swift; I hope to catch up on book reporting later this autumn.)

The Prickotty Bush by Montague Don

Those who have read Monty and Sarah Don’s The Jewel Garden know that they loved and lost a garden due to financial woes, long before Monty was the famous garden show presenter that he now is.

I read The Prickotty Bush, the story of that garden, slowly over a few weeks of this exhauting, rain-free summer, just a few pages before bedtime.

Its somber cover goes along with the somber subject of a garden under siege by the bank and an obsessed man trying to make a garden as quickly as possible.

Here are some of my favourite bits:

On the imposition of order by pruning:

Also known as Something Shiny Syndrome:

The bullying wind:

On doing it all oneself:

Interestingly, in one of the next books I read, Marion Cran wrote about the same thing.

Below, I identify with Montagu’s urgency.  I felt, at age 55, when I started the Lake Street garden, that I had to get it laid out the first winter during a two month staycation, no matter what the weather.

30 December 2010, gardening in ice-crusted soil

On time in the garden (shared because I love what he says about human aging):

On how to look at your garden:

On garden design:

On plant names:

Friday, 14 September 2018

Frosty rejoiced that I had the day at home.

He was vocal about it.

Rain gauges from last night:

Even the slowest filling rain barrel was almost full:

I think I might need to remove a hebe.  I set it in the spot below, in a wooden planter, and it has rooted into the ground, broken the planter apart, and is about to block our path.  It pulls debris out of the wheelbarrow when I pass by. And yet it is so grand.

From my window I had seen an exciting glow:

Kniphofia ‘Earliest of All’

I had tried in late winter to divide it and transplant some to the center bed.  So far, this is all the transplants have done after many months:

puny

My goal today was to deal with the basket plantings brought home from Long Beach.

In bin two, I had a pile of all green debris on top of brown.  I wanted to layer them, green and brown, into bin four.

Four hours later:

I got just this much compost from bin 2, which had not had much time to decompose since the last time I turned it.

Because I feel anxious about the financial aspect of retirement, I rejoice in any compost that I can make instead of buying mulch.  It’s good practice for more frugal years. Compost turning and sifting is an activity that relaxes and pleases me ever so much.

After a couple of rains, the rest of the basket root balls will be easier to break apart.

I wish I had a before photo of where Allan helped me dig out a big orangey grass that had seeded into the front of the east bed.  I needed some room for other plants, and have many others of this grass that I originally got from Pam Fleming’s former nursery.

left, some of the many that are left; right, a new empty space (not for long)

Salvia africana-lutea and an matching spider

Saturday, 15 September 2018

At last, I had a glorious rainy reading day, all Marion Cran.

First, I went through my book marks in her first book, which I finished two nights ago,  to photograph my favourite bits to share in a later post.

When I first opened my used English edition of The Garden of Ignorance, I found these inside:

All the way from Old Blighty, perhaps; there is nothing on the back of the picture.

Today I read all of The Garden of Experience and more than half of the third book of her autobiographical series, The Story of My Ruin.  She will get more than one of a series of blog posts when I have time to write more about the summer’s reading.

Here is just one excerpt that echoes Monty Don’s words about having to make one’s garden all by oneself.  In Cran’s world of the 1920s, that meant with the help of a gardener, but the garden owner also knew where every plant was and did much of the work herself.

I hope to offer you many more shared thoughts about Marion later this year.  Meanwhile, I enjoyed the endpiece to The Garden of Ignorance:

 

 

 

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