A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Monday, August 08, 2005


My local library is not terribly good. Unless you are in the market for a bestseller, there is not much selection. Thank goodness for the inter-library loan system. I can usually get whatever it is that I am looking for from another library. I have even been able to borrow books from Rutgers courtesy of the Middlesex Library.

Occasionally, though, I do find a gem on the shelves. My current treasure is "The Gardens of Gertrude Jekyll" by Richard Bisgrove. An oversized tome, it has pictures and descriptions of gardens designed by Gertrude Jekyll. The author has also reproduced her garden plans changing only the plant names to their modern equivalents as well as making them more legible than her original handwriting and adding water colors to make them easier to imagine, especially the plans for gardens that no longer exist.

Drinking in the wondrous photos, getting lost in the plant lists, and trying to picture vanished gardens, I find myself wanting to make major changes to the beds in my backyard. I have to keep reminding myself that the owners of these gardens had literally acres, virtually unlimited budgets and armies of gardeners whereas I have only my tiny 50x100 lot, a non-existent budget and only my limited spare time for gardening.

Another drawback is that most of the gardens Ms. Jekyll designed were intended to be enjoyed at a particular time such as late summer only. I prefer to have blooms throughout the growing season. I can still draw inspiration from her ideas. For instance, I should to widen my borders. I should also learn to use foliage, such as the iris after it blooms, as part of my planting schemes.

When I have finished this book, I will naturally be looking for something about Vita Sackville-West and the gardens at Sissinghurst.


At 11:56 AM, Blogger Sandy said...

I love reading garden books. They are so inspirational. I use alot of foliage plants in my garden because most flowers only bloom for 2 weeks. There are so many good plants with different colors that you can always have color in your garden. I'm big on different textures too. Fine leaves,big leaves, grasses etc. Have fun dreaming and planning!

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there any hints for using iris foliage that you can share? Our flowerbeds are also too narrow and the irises take up so much room.

At 11:37 PM, Blogger crazygramma said...

Sounds like a good book to browse through while sitting with a cup of tea and white chocolate macadamion nut cookies

At 12:26 AM, Blogger OldRoses said...

I can't believe I'm reading gardening books already. It's something I normally do over the winter when I can't garden, but I think because the heat has prevented me from doing much gardening, I read about it instead. Sabine, she seems to have been attracted to the fan-like shape of the leaves. There is also mention of the gray foliage but I think that's because she favored certain iris because the foliage on mine is all green.

At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Judith said...

I am a fan of Gertrude Jekyll...I found a used book that I look at & read over & over again--it is "Gertrude Jekyll's Lost Garden-The Restorartion of an Edwardian Masterpiece" by Rosamund Wallinger. (it's a journal-type book by a woman who restored & lived in a 1908 garden by Jekyll)...as you can see, I like the book and have enjoyed visiting your blog as well.

At 4:09 AM, Blogger OldRoses said...

Judith, I browsed that book at a bookstore one time. It looked fantastic. Thanks for reminding me about it. I will put it on my winter reading list.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Sylvana said...

Ooo, I want to see what Ms. Hyde has to offer ;)

At 7:28 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Right now I am reading The Illustrated Garden Book which is an anthology of Vita Sackville-West's writing along with some of her paintings and a few photographs. I think it is a good introduction to her writing. It was especially interesting to read her describing her White Garden (imitated the world over, by now) as a work in progress that she wasn't sure would work.


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