Since the inauguration of “Trump the Terrible,” like most of the world, my emotions have ranged from rage, deep depression and, after his 1st week in office, sheer terror and horror.
I realize that much of the blather coming out of the White House is just that, and much of it, I hope, will never get past Congress or the courts, but that really does little to assuage the horror I feel when reading the news.
As a result, I have decided to preserve my sanity, bury my head in the sand, stop following the news, and find my happy place. In the depths of winter (especially heading into my least favorite month), my happy place can only be found by a deep immersion into gardening books and gardening videos. So here’s a look at what I’ve been reading and watching for the past week:
- The Elements of Organic Gardening, by HRH The Prince of Wales with Stephanie Donaldson (2007) – The book focuses on the development of the gardens at Highgrove, Clarence Hall and Birkhall with a particular emphasis on Highgrove, given that’s where Prince Charles really began to implement organic gardening techniques at a time when it was not at all fashionable. In fact I think many English gardeners thought he was quite crazy at the time. Now, of course, it’s a given that this is the superior way to garden. At any rate, I would highly recommend this book. Obviously the scale of gardening at each of these “homes” is on a much grander scale than most of us have to worry about (we have neither the amount of land, nor the resources/staff), but many of the principles can be applied in a garden of any size. Even if it weren’t tremendously informative (which it is, covering everything from soil health to purifying grey water), it’s just a delightful read and the photos are superb.
- The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage, by David L. Culp with Adam Levine, photographs by Rob Cardillo (2012) – David, along with his partner, created a beautiful 2-acre cottage garden in Pennsylvania. The concept of layering – planting a mix of perennials and annuals that prolong the flowering of the garden through the seasons – is not a new one, as he admits. But again, the photographs are beautiful and I’m a sucker for a good “how I created my garden” story. And I love books that introduce me to some new plant or shrub that I then must add to my own garden (although he’s growing in a zone 6 area, so some plants, although tempting, will not survive our winters).
- Tasha Tudor’s Garden, by Tovah Martin with photographs by Richard W. Brown (1994) – this is a book I have re-read every year since purchasing it 3 or 4 years ago. Again, it contains marvelous photographs of Tasha’s garden when it was at its peak (she was almost 80 years old at the time this book was released). Tovah does a wonderful job of capturing both the wonder of the garden, and the eccentricities and talents of its creator. I feel re-inspired and ready to tackle a new gardening season every time I re-read this book and linger over the photos of what can only be described as an enchanting, wild garden. If I could transport myself back in time, I would return to the late 1980s or early 1990s, to Tasha’s home on the hilltop in Vermont, and sit down to a cup of tea with Tasha on her flower-covered front porch and talk plants for hours.
- Lastly, if you haven’t watched this video, it’s worth the time. Secret Gardens of England: 16 Secluded Gardens Revealed (2007). Narrated by Alan Titchmarsh, he explores 16 small, private gardens scattered throughout England. While not all of the gardens selected appeal to me from an aesthetic standpoint, I always enjoy listening to enthusiastic gardeners who simply delight in the plant world. And it’s always a pleasure to be transported to the world of color and hear the birds signing in the background when all I see, when I look out my window right now, are the white and greys of winter.