Sunday, November 16, 2008

A book close at hand


What a coincidence. I had been planning to post about this book, but hadn’t. Then, today, I read Dee/Red Dirt Rambling’s blog in which she uncharacteristically responded to a meme about books. Update: Barbara/Mr. McGregor's daughter has also done it.

The idea is that you grab the book closest to hand—no cheating—turn to page 56, choose the 5th sentence down, and post the results, including other lines if necessary to provide context. Here are my results:

Earlier in the year, I had been impressed by a strain of cardoon, Cynara cardunculus, before it ran up to flower. Its pale leaves, less dissected than usual, were overlaid by a almost metallic sheen. This is a joyful garden.

I assure you, the closest book to my laptop, excluding the messy stack of catalogs it lay beneath, was Christopher Lloyd’s Other People’s Gardens. Published in 1995, it documents Lloyd’s travels through 24 gardens, 18 of which are in Great Britain and Ireland, and 6 of which are in New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S. I have never been to any of them, but long to visit many, including Beth Chatto’s and Helen Dillon’s gardens, both of which are included, as well as Powis Castle, Chilcombe, and Stourton.

This book had been on my Amazon “to buy” list for a while, and I finally ordered a used copy this year. I doubt it’s in print. It is written in Lloyd’s typical style—not a gushing travelogue at all, but matter-of-fact, opinionated, critical when necessary, and refreshingly casual in tone. I happened just now to open to a description of how rudbeckia “Herbstonne” “flops hopelessly in the border,” which mine certainly does. Lloyd describes the gardens he visits, but his descriptions are flavored at all times by his own experience of many of the plants and he is occasionally critical when warranted, as here in the chapter on Balcarres: “I have one criticism of Ruth’s Garden. I think it tries to cover too long a season of interest and this is at the expense of any potential climax.”

A fascinating book, and one I am sure many of you would love to read, if you have not already. Don’t worry, there’ll be no tagging, but if you want to do this it’s fun.

10 comments:

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

This was fun! I ended up with a work of fiction rather than a gardening book. I 'll have to look for "Other People's Gardens." It sounds like a good one for reading on those cold winter nights.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have done this meme before. It is fun. I like it for two reasons. One is I am nosy and like to know what others are reading. Two I find intersting books to read this way too.

I love the last quote about having a climax in ones garden. I think you should have a climax if you live in a zone where you have to close up shop for the winter. I feel that way in my garden anyway.

EAL said...

Lisa, Well, of course I am chuckling at the whole climax reference, immature person that I am, but I agree. My garden really peaks at the end of July, with the arrival of the lilies.

MMD, I wonder what happened to my comment on RDR?

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Elizabeth, it was stuck in spam. I explained to Akismet that you are not spam and released your comment to sweet freedom. Thanks for the link and for doing the book meme. It was fun, and I always love Christopher Lloyd. Are any of those gardens ones we want to visit on our trip?~~Dee

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

It does sound like a great book to read this winter. Thanks for the recommendation.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

This does seem like fun. And I'm with you--I like Christopher Lloyd's style of writing. (Yes, even when I don't agree with his opinions.) But I'm afraid he'd look at my garden the way he looks at Ruth's, btw.

Sheri said...

The book sounds interesting, I will look into getting it for a Christmas present for my mom (she loves gardening). :)

Rhonda said...

Hi Elizabeth....Rhonda here. This is a heads up that I have selected your blog as one of the coolest. The "Butterfly Award" is winging its way to you. All you have to do is pop over to my blog and follow the post instructions. Congratulations!

Anne said...

Sounds like fun! I'm alwaays up for book recommendations. I'm going to check that one out!

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