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. 




41 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post about your gardening books and your secret crushes! I'm not sure I have any literary crushes, if you can believe that. And I do not write in books! I just can't. I do highlight in non-fiction books that I keep.

    Hope you and RH are doing well and keeping healthy. xoxo

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    1. I really shouldn't have admitted my sin of writing in books here! What would all my teachers at Dan Mills Elementary School say to that? Oh, well.

      You and Brian please stay well too, Melanie!

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  2. This is a perfect welcome back post, Dewena, allowing us to cozy up with some brand new books. Books are what's feeding my soul right now. I just finished Daphne DuMaurier's My Cousin Rachel, and having read Rebecca, I'm off to find copies of her other books. And now I'll have to look for the one on E.B. and Katherine, because he inspired my love of reading way back when I read Charlotte's Web at 9 years old. And, I do write in many of my books, but not the novels. I can't bring myself to do that, but I plaster them with post-it notes instead!

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    1. I devoured her books my senior year of high school, Karen. I remember reading Frenchmen's Creek right around graduation time and feeling that life was so wonderfully exciting and going around with a smile on my face all day when I finished it. Truly a sign of a darn good book, don't you think?

      Be sure to read The Scapegoat! I didn't read it until a few years ago and adored it. Then saw the movie on TCM not long afterwards, approving of some parts but as always disappointed because the movie didn't live up to the book. No surprise there, right?

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  3. Oh, now you've done it. So many books to look up! I adore E.B.White's essays, but I don't think I have a crush on him. I sometimes write in books, but not as much as I used to. I planted carrot and radish seeds about 6 days ago, and sweet pea flower seeds, too. Nothing up yet, but it's supposed to warm up a wee bit and I'm hopeful that I'll see something green soon.
    Stay well, Dewena.

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    1. I feel the same way every time you post a picture of the stack of books you've been reading, Lorrie. I want to read all the ones you enjoyed and they go on my list that is really an ever expanding file.

      And you might just feel a little bit the way I do about Mr. White if you read Russell's memoir about him. He was just the kindest intelligent man--those two characteristics not always co-existing in people. And with such a quiet sense of humor. But I think it was his sweet patience with his wife whose illnesses in later life made her even more impatient with people that touched my heart.

      I always love seeing how your garden grows in that marvelous climate you have there, Lorrie!

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  4. Love this post with all the pictures of the pretty flowers! I love seeing people's books, and hearing about what they are reading. What books they are buying, what they are finding at the library (well, before the libraries closed!), and seeing pretty books and pictures from them. Glad you are staying healthy and staying busy. How is your weather there, luckily it's been nice and warm here, getting outside in the sun and fresh air improves my mood so much and helps me face difficult times we are in. I'm not sure what is growing in the white cup...the pretty purple stuff, but I think I've seen it growing all over. Have you read "Mrs. Whaley and her Charleston Garden"--I do think you would love it! Take care of yourself and stay safe and healthy my friend.

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    1. Yes, I did read Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden! But it's been years since I did so I know I would enjoy it again and it's not one I owned so when the libraries open again I'll request it and this time think of you wandering around her beautiful town on your daily excursions with one of your gorgeous scarves around your neck. To me, living in Charleston would be like living in a city like Paris. You're very fortunate!

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  5. " 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. "
    as the only non gardener here...
    truer words were never spoken! I always love your posts on books and gardening. always!
    xo

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    1. Tam, you're a gardener at heart, always enjoying nature, and that counts too. And you know that most of my gardening now is making up a honey-do list for the real gardener in the family.

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  6. Oh, it sounds like you are all stacked up with your garden books, Dewena. These are some good ones and so informative. Yes, it's been a scary time right now for everyone, but I am doing well, and never have a problem when thinking of things to do at home. I was a stay at home mom for many years, so staying home is second nature to me. And one of my favorite places to be. It sounds like it is one of your favorite places as well. That first picture with the books and the flowers and the blue candles is so charming.

    Stay well, dear friend. I will be thinking of my Tennessee friend along the way. : )

    ~Sheri



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    1. Sheri, I'm so glad that you're well and enjoying your time at home. I know you are still finding lots of subjects for your photography.

      I'm glad you like the blue candles! They were a color I'd never bought until this Christmas and decided they were a happy choice. Stay well, too, Sheri, and those sweet grandbabies of yours!

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  7. Hi Dewena,
    Such a nice post. Love that you have such a wonderful collection of garden reads. Melanie is so sweet to pass on the book for your collection. Blogging friends are the best. Hope you are staying safe and well.

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    1. Melanie is such a dear! This is not the first time she's shared books with me. Wishing you and your dear family all safety too, Kris!

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  8. I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. I guess for some reason I missed the last post, so I'm glad you mentioned it again. I'm glad you are back writing to us. My readers were so kind after the loss of my father. I spent all day today in my new spring garden, and it really does help sooth during these crazy times around us! Hands in the dirt, messed up fingernails and the great smell of fresh air, dirt and tiny little tomato plants all bring peace. Blessing to you on this difficult journey of healing.

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    1. Thank you so much, Leslie Anne. I know the loss of your father has been so very hard. I hope your mother is doing well. I know she feels blessed, as I do, to have family near.

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  9. You made me do it! I found Onward and Upward very inexpensively on Abebooks. There are more waiting for your readers to enjoy...

    I love gardening essay books and I recommend I Like Gardening by Jean Hersey, Duck Hill Journal by Page Dickey, ALL of Thalassa Cruso books! Love Rosemary Verey, too, especially essays A Country Woman's Year. Great time to envelope ourselves in all the works of both the beloved Gladys Taber and the gnarly, intelligent, and uber-interesting Hal Borland!! Do try to find the Amish essayist David Kline and the wonderful writings of Harold E. Kohn. I adore all Haydn S. Pearson and Gladys Taber's friend, Barbara Webster has 2-3 great books of country life essays.

    Just wouldn't be right for any of us to skip the reading advantage we've all been given!

    Be well all,
    Lori

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    1. Thank you, Lori, for this amazing list! I wrote a whole index cards of your suggestions. I already have almost all of dear Gladys Taber's books, and have read serveral of Barbara Websters, and treasure the one day book by Hal Borland that I kept after giving my others by Borland to his nephew (his mother was sister to Borland), a friend of ours who I was astounded to learn didn't own any of his uncle's books. I ordered Rosemary Verey's winter garden book after seeing Tara Dillard recommend it, but I'm not familiar with any of the other writers you suggest. There is lots of good reading ahead of me now!

      Thank you again for the list and since I was unable to contact or visit you online I hope that you visit again and read this. I appreciate your visit!

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  10. Out on the east end of Long Island there's a wonderful winding road and a giant house on the water with a big white mailbox that says E.B. White. When I was little I used to think he really lived there. Magical for a little girl. Or a big one! Stay safe...

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    1. How perfectly wonderful! I would be one of those many who probably have driven down the road just in case there was a pig in the yard!

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  11. My dear friend,
    I loved this post, loved, loved it.
    I am a fan of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. I love the story how it got started.Jere is passionate about so much. Johnny's Seeds is another favorite of mine.
    Take Care and please share if you find out what that sweet blue flowered plant is.
    xx oo
    Carla

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    1. Thank you so much, Carla! I've noticed that two of my favorite YouTube women swear by Johnny's Seeds, one of them who lives in your state in Door County.

      I need one of those apps that identifies a plant from a pic for you. You take care too!

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  12. The sweet pea illustration is amazing! What a superb collection of books. I know I have eased back on the books over the years and ended all my magazine subscriptions as so much is available on the web now. But, I do love Gutenberg to look up old books, and Pinterest of course, where almost everything that ever was has a photo there. Such, a very interesting post!

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    1. That sweet pea illustration always makes me want to cut it out and frame it, except I don't cut things out of books. I only write in them, which may be just as bad. Several people have told me about Gutenberg so I must spend some time checking it out.

      Thank you!

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  13. So sorry to read about your mother below and in this post. I'm behind on blog visiting so I'm late to finding this out. And all these illustrations of beautiful garden things are great . I love that photo of the Styrofoam cup with the ground cover which I recognize but don't know what it is and the way you can see the garden out the window ...just makes me feel good looking at it. I'm glad you had your mother near you for so long and yet she still is in a different way now.

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    1. Thank you, Sandy, and I so understand getting behind on blog visiting. These days staying at home for me have triggered spring cleaning spurts alternating with reading and old movies. There are days when I just can't be online except to check on our kids' lives.

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  14. I so enjoy reading your reviews on these lovely gardening books, Dewena. I would definitely go for the catalogue with those AMAZINGLY bright and beautiful illustrations - I'm very visual and get so much inspiration from colourful, artistic drawings!

    My husband, as you know does ALL of the veggie gardening, while I plant ALL of the flowers, although I have promised myself that I start learning the basics, at least.

    The last time I wrote in my books was in university, chicken scratch really, which, to this day, I have never really been able to decipher. Thank goodness I recorded my lectures!

    Stay safe and healthy, my friend!
    Poppy xoxo

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    1. One thing for sure, Poppy, gardening is now becoming much more than a little hobby. It's wonderful to see young people wanting to learn how to grow their own food. That's one good thing to come out of this scary time.

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  15. I like how you will be explaining something and then add a little of your History for color! So fun!

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    1. Thank you so much, Christine! You have encouraged me!

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  16. A lovely welcome back post; thoroughly enjoyable! I do write in my books, especially cook books and The Holy Bible. I bought three apple trees today...5+ feet tall and for a great price. Gala, Pink Lady and Granny Smith; the man tried to sell me a Yellow/Red Delicious but I said I'd wait to find an Early Harvest/Lodi. The man said, "But you need a pollinator in order to get apples." I replied, "But I won't get any apples this year so it won't matter if I wait a year." He looked nonplussed then nodded his head. "Well, yeah. You've got a good point." These trees will go next to my heritage apples in my fledgling orchard.
    I've always been partial to Gladys Taber's writings and will begin my search for some you mentioned. I do enjoy memoirs and the EBWhite sounds marvelous!

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    1. Sandra, he must not often come across someone as knowledgeable as you! Bless you for planting apple trees!

      And there is no one as special as Gladys. She is timeless!

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  17. So many things, like second hand shopping and little notes in the margins, have been lost when I switched from proper books to digital ones. Sadly, I find that once your eyes get used to kindle, there is no going back. I'll look for the books you've mentioned, dear Dewena, they sound just like the gentle reads I need in these crazy times. I hope that you are all well and safe, take good care!
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Amalia, I've never tried kindle but I have one dear friend who says it is such a blessing when your eyes need larger print. And I definitely do! You take care, too!

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  18. What a wonderful post! I love the illustrations. And I believe the ground cover is called Bugleweed or Ajuga. It's such a pretty blue, my favorite flower color.
    Keep well, thank you for your lovely posts,
    Mary

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    1. Thank you so much for identifying this for us! We had Ajuga at our old house but it had bronze leaves so I didn't realize this was Ajuga. After your comment I googled it and discovered there are many many varieties of it and that this must be one of them.

      Please forgive my tardiness in replying here. I've been absent as I've tried to adapt to this new normal time. I hope you've been well too.

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  19. Mary is right. That's Ajuga. It's a great groundcover and comes in a number of varieties. I planted the Ajuga Black Scallop in my Oregon garden and it spread like crazy. It does well in sun to shade, but blooms more in the sun. It's a hardy plant. I was so sorry to read of your mother's passing, Dewena. You have my deepest sympathies and prayers for God's comfort for you and your family. Gentle hugs, Nancy

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    1. Hello Nancy, two of my experts agree! I look forward to our little plug spreading and spreading.

      Thank you, Nancy for your sweet expression of sympathy. A hug back to you!

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  20. I am sorry about the loss of your mum; losing a mother is very hard.

    I enjoyed reading about all these authors; I had never heard of Beverley Nichols. When we are allowed to go out again I’ll see if the Green Hills library here in Nashville has any of his books. I don’t want to buy any now because I do have to clear out all the books from GA. I brought back 3 bags full of my husband westerns I need to give away. (Do you know anyone who would want them?) I only used to read rose catalogues. When we moved to GA I joined the Rose Society. I ended up with 150 rose buses that took all my week-ends to care for. But after I started working full time and the trees around them grew they all died (well it took about 20 years!) I have many Rose Society year books and wonder is there is one here and I could give them all away to them.

    Here in Nashville I bought 3 trees from the nonprofit Nashville Tree Conservation Corps and am planning to buy 3 more. The backyard is small and only has grass or rather weeds. Because of my knees and bad ankle I would not be able to bend down so am not planning on getting flowers. As for salsify my mother (in France) used to cook them a lot. She made beignets of salsifis that were so yummy. I have not seen any in markets here though or I would buy them.

    By the way Dewena I saw that I had 2 copies of Mrs. Whaley and her Charleston Garden, which I have not read. If you’d like one of them, I’ll send it to you, just send me an email. Unfortunately they are in Georgia but as soon as we are free again I’ll drive there.

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    1. I remember that you have been gradually dealing with moving your books to your home in Nashville, a job that I'm sure you've now put on hold. But yes, I would love to have one of your copies of Mrs. Whaley and her Charleston if it becomes convenient for you to send it and will try emailing you through your blog. I hope so much that the Green Hills Library will be able to open back up safely, it is a lovely library. I feel sure that they can help you find a way to give your Rose Society year books a new home somewhere.

      I am fascinated by your account of your mother in France using salsify in her cuisine! In beignets? Who would have thought about that? Thank you so much for sharing that information with me!

      Please be safe!

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  21. For some reason your posts and several other bloggers posts ended up in my spam folder. So here I am. I also write in my books. I don't like buying books that have been marked up, as I like to underline, and write my own comments. Your posts are a delight and it was good to see you back again. Have a lovely in home Easter ~ Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

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RH and I love your comments! They are sent to my email for moderation first but I do hit publish as soon as I read them. A few commenters' comments are not sent to my email for some reason but I try to visit that section on my design page twice a day to see if they're hiding there so I can publish them. I went the first 3 years of blogging not knowing that was there and when I discovered it there were many pages of old comments that never got published. I was so embarrassed and contacted recent ones but hid in shame from those who had given up long ago.

In these busy days I appreciate so much when you take time to comment. Thank you so much!

Dewena