Some of my Favourite Gardening Books (Part II)

By: Anne Corke

Aug 09 2011

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Category: Gardening, Photography

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Gardeners love to read about gardening, and not just practical books, but novels and memoirs, too. The first garden themed book that I can ever remember reading is the classic The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This timeless story of Mary and her sickly cousin Colin tells of their discovery of a secret garden and it’s magical effect on both of them. A truly charming book, it’s one that you will read and reread over the years, and share with your children and grandchildren. A more recent novel and a particular favourite of mine is Helen Humphreys The Lost Garden. A lovely novel, this story about a woman sent to supervise a group of Land Girls working on a country estate during the war is a wonderful summer read, a book to treasure. Night Gardening (Swann) is a rather obscure novel which was given to me by a very special friend and fellow gardener who passed away a few years ago. It’s the story of a widow recovering from serious illness who forges a relationship with a landscape architect working on the property next door. As the two work to reclaim her garden from neglect, they discover the passion (the naughty bit I promised!) and healing power of the garden. In the non-fiction category, Diane Ackerman’s Cultivating Delight, A Natural History of My Garden, is a beautifully written story of her garden through the seasons, rich in detail and full of surprises. (Although not a gardening book, Diane’s A Natural History of the Senses is also a fascinating read.) As we all know, a gardener needs a well-developed sense of humour, a necessity when dealing with the vagaries of flora and climate. And no one tickles our funny bone quite like Des Kennedy. His Crazy about Gardening, Humourous Reflections on the Sweet Seductions of a Garden is full of amusing anecdotes that will have you smiling and nodding as you recognize familiar situations from your own gardening experiences. If you haven’t read it, get yourself a copy and a cup of tea, and head out to the garden for a wonderful read! (His description of a gardener’s garb is worth the price of the book alone.) Another of his books, The Way of a Gardener, relates his fascinating journey from a strict Irish Catholic childhood in Britain, through a brief flirtation with the priesthood, to his ultimate destination, gardening in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Yet another, The Ecology of Enchantment, follows the life of his garden through an entire year, with it’s ups and downs, it’s triumphs and tragedies. (Des also writes garden themed novels, including The Garden Club and Climbing Patrick’s Mountain.) Stony Ground, the Making of a Canadian Garden (Douglas Chambers) chronicles the trials and tribulations of one man’s on-going project to turn his family farm into a “celebration of garden history and design”, and will resonate with all gardeners who labour under less than ideal conditions to create the garden of their dreams. Of course, there are many more excellent garden books out there. These are just a few of my favourites. If you’re looking for some good garden reading, you might try one of these. Enjoy!

Copyright 2011 Anne Corke

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