A nice dune planting on Topsail Island
How could I do it? How could I leave trumpet lilies ready to
unfold, an amazingly early second budding of roses, the unknown promise of dark
purple hosta blossoms, and the unfailingly brazen flowers of Mme. Julia
The necessity for a summer getaway is not always timed correctly
for the garden and the gardener’s timetable. I love the ocean and our ocean
cottage— the only thing I ask is that I have enough time before Garden Walk
Buffalo to get some mulch down and to fill in the most embarrassingly empty
spaces. This year, I decided to use our beach time to read some garden-related
classics: the ones that everyone else has read but that I somehow missed. As
many of you know, the Modern
Library Gardening Series, edited by Michael Pollan, includes some of the best
garden books and gardening writers we know. I took The Gardener’s Year by Karel
Capek (from that series) and The Essential Earthman, by Henry Mitchell down to
the beach, where I have been enjoying them immensely, amid bouts of rain.
Here are some gems:
It will soon be clear that until it has been tamed a hose is
an extraordinarily evasive and dangerous beast, for it contorts itself, it
jumps, it wriggles, it makes puddles of water , and dives with delight into the
mess it has made …
In due time it was obvious that I must crunch every day one
hundred and twenty radishes,
because nobody else in the house would eat them; the next day I was drowning in
savoys, and then the orgys in kohlrabi followed ...
There are no green thumbs or black thumbs. There are only
gardeners and non-gardeners. Gardeners are the ones who ruin after ruin get on
with the high defiance of nature herself, creating, in the very face of her
chaos and tornado, the bower of roses and the pride of irises.
I could go on and on and on. I particularly respect the
adherence to the Chicago Manual and the wonderful introductions to these new
editions. It’s also interesting how Capek and Mitchell reference a timetable
that is just so slightly skewed from what I know to be the reality in Buffalo.
They both have a lot of action in January and February, for example, but while
the months may be different, the feelings and foibles are the same. I also
enjoy Capek’s hyperbolic description of his epistolary demands to his hapless garden-watcher.
It reminds me of the tactfully-worded instructions I barely managed to fit on
one sheet for our house-sitter. (“Containers must be watered all the time;
always water where the Norway maples are, blah, blah, blah …”)
Which brings me. Why do we leave our gardens in summer,
especially those of us in climates where summer is the only gardening season? I
guess because we must. But vacations are for reading and I do recommend this
new Modern Library series. What gardening books are you reading this summer?