BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: FLOWERS AND GARDENS

imageA very small sampling of my flower and garden book collection.

Since this is the first week of Spring the week’s theme is flowers and gardens….there are SO MANY great books on the subject I will cover just a small sampling.  You by now know how much I love historical fiction about “real” people so let’s start there.

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These two books, by the prolific Philippa Gregory, tell the story of the influential English gardener, John Tradescant, which details his connections with royalty and the beginnings of magnificent gardens in seventeenth century England and continues with his son’s voyage to the New World.  Both stories are told as only Gregory can.  I was truly enchanted with both but preferred Earthly Joys.  Both are very long engaging stories and a time I will need to read more about.  The English have a love, like no one else, except perhaps, the French, for their gardens.  Here you can read about the beginning of the great estates and ALL that is involved in the construction and “architecture” of this art form along with the turbulent politics of the time…really good reads. I’m sure there are many other fictionalized books on gardening…please share your favorites.

I can’t think of any other author/arbiter of good taste to feature with some of the most magnificent books on flowers and gardens…Carolyne Roehm would be that person. I had the extreme pleasure of working with her when she presented her exquisite ready-to-wear collection for a fashion show benefit in Chicago many years ago.  A more charming, talented person one could not meet.  Years later, Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago, was asked to underwrite the opening keynote luncheon for the Chicago Botanic Garden Antique and Garden Show http://www.chicagobotanic.org and Carolyne was the speaker.  I was invited to sit at her table and was totally taken by surprise that she remembered working with me on her fashion show!  She was gracious, an excellent speaker and also did a fascinating floral demonstration, as I recall using masses of red carnations for one of her sensational arrangements.  The luncheon was a wall to wall sell out and the audience adored her, why not, her talent is extraordinary.  All I can say is if you don’t have ALL of her books you must order them immediately, the photography is out of this world and the copy is enchanting.  Not all are on flowers and gardens but each does include them in some way.  Here are some of the ones I have chosen to share with you…enjoy!

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There are four volumes in this series representing the four seasons, I am featuring the Spring Notebook.

I would also recommend any books you can find on Sissinghurst…I was fortunate to visit the Gardens there several years ago.  Of course, I had read reams about the Gardens, but words and pictures can not describe them as they really are, magnificent to say the very least!  Capability Brown must be added to your list of quintessential English gardeners, how could we leave him out…not possible! Is there a fictionalized version of his life, that would be fabulous, let me know if you know of one. And, of course, Gertrude Jekyll, the book you see in my stack at the top of this post was written by a Jekyll scholar who happened to be sailing on the Queen Mary 2 when I was (you can rest assured that there will be a future post on this once in a lifetime trip, loved everything about it!!!), I was seated with him and his wife and we were chatting (I had no idea who he was) when he informed me that he would be speaking on the crossing, actually the day that we were sharing a meal…he was a total joy to know and listen to…luckily for me the book was being sold on board (of course it was!) and he signed it for me.  An excellent book on this superbly talented gardener.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at some flower and garden books that have engaged me.  My Mother, Ruth, was the gardener in the family she had a green arm, everything she planted grew beautifully for her (we had over 200 rose bushes in our tiny garden along with other cottage garden flowers, many were old fashion English roses she got from sources before David Austin came to the States, she would have been in Rose Heaven, but, of course, she is!!!)…it was her hobby and her joy.  I chose to bask in the sun and read, now I wish I had a plot of land to dig in, oh well, I’ll have to content myself with visiting gardens and read about them instead!

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