When you’ve survived an ice storm but your yard is littered with big and little broken tree branches and there is still a thick, slippery ice crust under new snow, making walking treacherous, especially if you’re still healing great bruises on your knees from falls more than a week ago, it is pleasant to sit by the fire in the woodstove, reading a gardening book.
The Armchair Book of Gardens: a miscellany put together by Jane Billinghurst is a peek into the minds and creations of gardeners around the world and through the centuries. There is a letter by Pliny the Younger of ancient Rome, excerpts from long-ago Chinese and Persian writers, pieces from 20th-century celebrities A.A. Milne, Tom Stoppard, Patrick Lane. Reading these short selections is like wandering through a large, complex garden: you never know what comes next, what will be presented.
I realize that what I like best about gardening is dreaming about gardens, seeing other people’s beautiful spaces, planning my own achievement of perfection. I realize that I enjoy editing garden features for our Spring issue each year. Before the blackflies come out, and the mosquitoes, forgetting the exhaustion of digging and moving the wheelbarrow in the heat, ignoring the tedium of weeding and the heartbreak of plants that fail, I think of the wonderful garden I’ll achieve this year. It’s like Passover dinner, which includes the words “Next year in Jerusalem.” Next year, this coming spring, I’ll have the garden of my dreams.
What kind of garden do you dream of?
The Armchair Book of Gardens: a miscellany by Jane Billinghurst, Greystone Books, 2011.