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.