Wednesday, March 25

Gardener Writers

When you're not digging in the garden, it's a joy to read writings by other gardeners. here are a couple of excerpts from books I've been enjoying on rainy days and dark evenings.

"How agitated I am when I am in the garden, and how happy I am to be so agitated. How vexed I often am when I am in the garden, and how happy I am to be so vexed. What to do? Nothing works just the way I thought it would, nothing looks just the way I had imagined it, and when sometimes it does look like what I had imagined (and this, thank God, is rare) I am startled that my imagination is so ordinary. Why are those wonderful weeping wisterias (or so they looked in a catalog: wonderful, inviting, even perfect) not fitting in the way I had imagined them, on opposite sides of a stone terrace made up of a patchwork of native Vermont stone? I had not yet understood and also had not yet been able to afford incorporating the element of water in my garden. I could not afford a pond. I could not understand exactly where a pond ought to go in the general arrangement of things. I do not even like a pond, really. When I was a child and living in another part of the world, the opposite of the part of the world in which I now live (and have made a garden), I knew ponds, small, really small bodies of water that had formed naturally (I knew of no human hand that had forced them to be that way), and they were not benign in their beauty: they held flowers, pond lilies, and the pond lilies bore a fruit that when roasted was very sweet, and to harvest the fruit of the lilies in the first place was very dangerous, for almost nobody who loved the taste of them (children) could swim, and so attempts to collect the fruit of pond lilies were dangerous; I believe I can remember people who died (children) trying to reach these pond lilies, but perhaps no such thing happened, perhaps I was only afraid that such a thing would happen, perhaps I only thought if I tried to reap the fruit of pond lilies I would die. I have eaten the fruit of pond lilies, they were delicious, but I can't remember what they tasted like, only that they were delicious and that they were delicious, and that no matter that I couldn't remember exactly what they tasted like, they were delicious again.
In my garden there ought to be a pond. All gardens, all gardens with serious intentions (but what could that mean) ought to have water as a feature. My garden has no serious intention, my garden has only series of doubts upon series of doubts."
Jamaica Kincaid, My Garden (Book):

"How much I long sometimes for a courtyard flagged with huge grey paving stones. I dream of it at night, and I think of it in the daytime, and I make pictures in my mind, and I know with the reasonable part of myself that never in this life shall I achieve such a thing, but I still continue to envy the fortunate people who live in a stone country, such as the Cotswolds, or in the northern counties of Yorkshire, Westmorland, and Cumberland....
"Amongst these essential and fundamental coverings I should plant small treasures. shall we say as an axiom that a very small garden should have very small things in it? The picture should fit the frame. I should have lots of little bulbs, all the spring-flowering bulbs; then for the later months I should let the pale-blue Camassias grow up, and some linarias, both pink and purple, such easy things, sowing themselves in every crevice. Every garden maker should be an artist along his own lines. That is the only possible way to create a garden, irrespective of size or wealth. The tiniest garden is often the loveliest. Look at our cottage gardens, if you need to be convinced."
Vita Sackville-West's Garden Book (edited by Phillipa Nicholson)

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