I'm reading a terrific garden book right now called "Cultivating Delight, A Natural History of My Garden", by Diane Ackerman, the author of the best seller, "A Natural History of the Senses". It's wonderful. So beautifully written and observant. I like how singular the author's voice is in this book. It's definitely her view of her garden and nature and life. She includes some passages that are harsh but truthful about nature and human's and what we do to the world around us. It makes me a bit uneasy but I like that too. And I love the title: Cultivating Delight. I think that is a great adage to live by. Delight takes effort, and the garden is a great place to work for it. The pay off may not be immediate but in the long run, it's definitely delightful!
While I'm on the subject of garden literature, there are a couple of other books that I've found to be a great reads. The first is the book "Green Thoughts, A Writer in the Garden" by Eleanor Perenyi, published in 1981. It is a rare combination of beautifully written, highly informative and very funny insights about plants, their habits, gardens, design, tools, and maintenance among many other subjects. The essays are presented alphabetically rather than by the usual seasonal order, so there is this kind of loopy, randomness about the book that is refreshing and surprising: lawns, lillies, longevity or partly cloudy, paths, peonies. And yes, it is really funny too. I actually found myself laughing out loud due in great part to Ms. Peroenyi's sassy smartness and obvious delight she takes in both gardening and writing. This book is truly a treat!
Another favorite of mine is a book called "Planted" by Andy Sturgeon. Mr. Sturgeon is an accomplished garden designer and his book is so funny and groovy. It's truly one of the coolest looking books I've seen in the gardening book realm and the straightforward, "what you need to do" aspect of the writing, makes it a great resource. And then there is my favorite section which has his very opinionated recommendations on particular plants: "Rue: Granted it's an attractive blue grey and it is sort of evergreen, which accounts for its popularity. But what's in a name? A lot. Graveolens is Greek for 'strong smelling'. I don't know what the Greek for 'stinks like cat pee' is, but it would be far more appropriate." Or: "Vinca Major: is it a shrub? Is it a climber? This is truly a plant with an identity crisis." Yeah, I really like this book.
And my final garden book of note is "Gardening Mad" by Monte Don. It's the best designed book of the garden book bunch that I've found, beautifully written by Mr. Don with photographs by Fleur Olby (featured in this blog). The book is pleasure to look at even if you don't read the essays. But that would be a mistake because they are so well written and informative that I had to stop myself from reading ahead in the excitement of just wanting more. The book is laid out by season and it was great to read the April essays in April, so that I could run out an apply what I had just discovered. Again, another great read!