Thursday, March 26, 2020

Garden Catalogues and Secret Crushes

Thank you so much for your condolences on the loss of my mother. My sisters and I have sometimes floundered after we found ourselves without our beloved parents here on this earth. 

And during this time of mourning people all over the world have entered this frightening era of pandemic. I'm guessing that most of us have turned to the comforts of home and garden.

I struggled to find what topic to write about this first post back. Nothing seemed adequate after reading so many inspiring posts from my blog friends. So I will instead share some pictures that were meant to be posted in late February when I stacked up some garden books I had been reading. 

The book on top, Beverley Nichols' Green Grows the City, the Story of a London Garden, was a gift from a dear blog friend, Melanie of Comfy House, who knew I collected his books and generously passed this one along to me after she read it. I loved it so much that I've read it twice!

I have about eight of his books and must admit that I've been a little bit secretly in love with this Englishman from the early mid-century for many years, the same way many of my blog friends are with Monty Don today. Okay, I admit I'm a little bit in love with Monty too, thanks to Netflix. And there's even another home and garden writer from the early mid-century who I have a huge crush on but he's for another post--or a hundred posts.

What one thing can I share with you from this delightful book? I don't have time to tell you much here, not even about his obnoxious neighbor Mrs. Heckmondwyke. Maybe this from the end of his book will strike a connection with everyone to whom home and garden have become so much more important now:

So we will close these pages. And as we do so we both know, you and I, that if all men were gardeners, the world at last would be at peace. 

Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katharine S. White is a classic that anyone whose heart thumps a little faster when the first garden catalogue arrives in the mail after Christmas should enjoy.

Mrs. White wrote garden pieces for New Yorker readers for many years that extolled the education to be found between the covers of an excellent garden catalogue, and they're gathered in this book.

Here's a little from the Introduction, written by her husband E. B. White--and yes, I have a tiny crush on him too. (Mrs. White, on the other hand, would scare the dickens out of me were I to be in her presence.) 

There seems to be no limit to my literary crushes. Here he compares his wife, to whom he is completely devoted, to the English garden writer Gertrude Jekyll:

Unlike Miss Jekyll, my wife had no garden clothes and never dressed for gardening...Her army boots were liable to be Ferragamo shoes, and she wore no apron. I seldom saw her prepare for gardening, she merely wandered out into the cold and the wet, into the sun and the warmth, wearing whatever she had put on that morning...her clothes had to take things as they came.

 And if you want to read more about the marriage between these two extraordinary people, Isabel Russell's account of the eight years she was Mr. White's secretary in their home in Katharine and E. B. White, An Affectionate Memoir, is a wonderful place to start. 

And here is my treasure of a garden catalogue, Dreer's Garden Book 1930. I can't even remember where I got it, I've had it so long. 

Although Baker's Creek Heirloom Seed Company is my current favorite seed catalogue to read like a novel, and I buy at least one thing from White Flower Farm every year just to keep receiving their pretty catalogue that isn't nearly as thick as it used to be, every Spring I enjoy turning the pages of this old catalogue. Aren't those sweet peas beautiful?

Even the black and white photos are interesting. Have any of you ever grown salsify?

 I love the illustrations in this old catalogue!

What are your favorite garden catalogues? I know some of you already have seedlings started in sunny windows and under grow lights. 

And could anyone please help identify this ground cover that RH took a plug from a friend's yard and stuck in a foam cup? I took this picture the other day but it is now full of pretty purple blooms. 

Did you notice the little Golden Guernsey cow in my kitchen window? We rescued her from a yard sale decades ago because that was the kind of milk that used to be delivered to our kitchen door in our early married years. 

One book in my stack of books pictured, Elizabeth Lawrence's The Little Bulbs, I've skipped writing about because it's worth a whole post involving RH driving me around Nashville looking for the house belonging to the woman who had once owned the book and made copious notes throughout. I love finding books that the owner has written in, would pay twice what I pay for a book that's not annotated. And I admit that I write in almost all my books. If they're not written in that probably means they didn't touch my heart.

Do you write in your books? 

Want to share your own secret crushes with us? 

I hope you and your loved ones are all okay during this fight against a mutual enemy. From my heart to yours, wherever you live, whether you are a blogger or one who reads blogs, please be careful, please thrive and flourish. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

I wish I'd asked more questions.

The pretty young woman standing in the middle in the photo below is my mother. She was sixteen then.

I love the expression on her face, so happy, so in love with life. I love her modest outfit and the relaxed but poised figure.

The photo was taken in Washington D.C. in 1941. I'm assuming the other two young women are friends of hers and the soldier is someone they posed with as they were seeing the sights. 

And I'm assuming that the young Dewena was  thrilled to be traveling there. A girl from a very small town in the South back then would be, don't you think? 

But I don't know for sure because I never asked her. 

My sisters and I lost our precious 95 year old mother recently. We're so glad that she is now in her heavenly home with her Lord and Savior, joining our father who went on before her. We wouldn't willingly keep her here, suffering on.

But we miss her so very much. 

I wish I had asked her so many more questions about all the old photographs I've been going through this past week. Asked and then written down more of the stories that she told me. 

I've written about my parents many times here and this week I went back and added a "Parents" label, separate from the larger "Family" label. 

She and my father were extraordinary people, part of that Greatest Generation that we're losing so many of every day. 

So many stories lost, not nearly enough of them written down, not nearly enough questions asked.

Write down as many as you can, dear friends and family.

Thank you so much to those of you who have already contacted me upon hearing the news of my mother's passing, some of you who have already left comments on my last post. And thank you to those of you who read this and leave them below. 

I wish you all could have known her.