I have lots of gardening books on the shelves. Some are how-to guides: how to grow organic carrots, when to plant tomato seeds, where to grow pumpkins; and some are meditations and essays on the art and love of gardening.
It's been hot here in Portland the last few days - too hot to work in the garden beyond the morning watering. So I pulled out a stack of garden essay books, poured a cool drink and set to work gleaning wisdom and inspiration from gardeners who write.
- This book drew me in as soon as I saw the cover and read the title: Gardening at the Dragon's Gate: at Work in the Wild and Cultivated World by Wendy Johnson. The author is a Buddhist meditation teacher and gardener who writes beautifully about such subjects as the sacredness of compost and soil, the Zen of weeds, the principles of diversity, acceptance, inviting the unknown and the generosity of harvest. I've just dipped into this beautiful book and look forward to reading more of it.
- Voices from the Earth: a Year in the Life of a Garden by William Longgood. This is a book I stumbled across on a library shelf years ago - one of those books that calls "Yoo Hoo! Take me home with you NOW!" I love this book and spent a good bit of time tracking down a copy to own. Longgood was a journalist in New York before retiring to Cape Cod. He goes season by season in this book and explores garden successes and failures, the creatures (welcome and unwelcome) that visit, and garden philosophy. I love this bit of advice:
...you need a chair for successful gardening. How else you going to see what's going on?
- Virago Book of Women Gardeners edited by Deborah Kellaway. A delicious collection of garden writing by such notables as Alice B. Toklas, Vita Sackville-West, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Colette, Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton, Germaine Greer, Sylvia Plath. From essays to anecdotes, poetry to advice, this is a great one to sit with under the apple tree on a hot afternoon.
Other reading this week found me finishing Small Island by Andrea Levy (winner of the Orange and Whitbread prizes in 2004) - what an incredible book. This one is sure to make it to the best of '08 for me. Rich characterization, wonderful story, great pacing and revealing of the characters and plot.
This week I WILL finish War and Peace and do a little required reading - two Early Reviewer books via LibraryThing. Must be disciplined....