There’s a gorgeous story in this month’s Martha Stewart Living (I read it for the articles, I swear) about the gardens of celebrated American writers. Women all, and apparently in possession of the greenest of thumbs next to their other ink-stained fingers. Eudora Welty kept clambering pink roses, Edith Wharton trimmed shrubs into perfect submission, Edna St. Vincent Millay weeded her peonies in the nude.
I am no Edna St. Vincent Millay.
There is only one living plant within my reach at the moment, a withered-looking aloe plant that has given up on growing in its own pot and now seems intent on jumping out of it. Any water is too much, except when it is drying up and then no amount is enough. I dunno. My policy of dumping what remains in last night’s water glass on it in the morning doesn’t seem to be working. I haven’t tried anything else.
I do have a beautiful, miraculous garden, for two weeks a year. Some previous owner of my yard put in peonies, iris and fragrant Russian sage, and the beautiful perennials keep coming up and bursting into gorgeous bloom by the first of June no matter what I do. Maybe these prolific gardeners didn’t live at the house for the rest of the summer, or maybe they used those other sorts of plants, I believe they are called “annuals” to fill out the garden for July and August. All I know is that every time I put another plant in the ground the rabid band of bloodthirsty squirrels that patrol my neighborhood comes along and digs them up. Anything that survives the squirrels is quickly choked out by creeping charlie, and for those rare plants hearty enough to dodge squirrel marauding and charlie overgrowth, their only reward is to dry up in the August heat.
I, friends, am no gardener.
However, with the sun coming out and staying for longer and longer each day, I wanted to tell you about three or four garden books that are sure to get you slightly more enthused about the growing season than I am:
I read about this book when the author came to visit us here at the ball, and then found a copy at my local indie (A Room of One’s Own, a lushly stocked and roomy store right downtown) and snapped it up. This story is at once romantic and genuine and natural, the English Garden of love stories.
Another love story, this one is one of those juicy epics that weaves a bunch of histories together and ties it up in a big page-turning bow in the modern day storyline. Our local botanical garden (a short stroll from my house, luckily) has a knot garden, and this book will work through your mind in the same way.
Ok, this one is not about gardening. But it’s a good read, as is everything by Sophie Littlefield, and I think this is her best yet. Also you will cry enough to water a 30 square foot patch of roses.
If ever there were a perfect spring book club pick, this is it. Moving and sweet and just the tiniest bit thoughtful, you can read it and then have double the fun shopping for cut flowers with hidden meanings for your friends or frenemies.
And finally, for the kiddos:
My son loves this book, almost inexplicably. I say almost because the pictures are lovely. But really, vegetable soup. Bletch. Everyone knows that’s just a place to hide all the zucchini the squirrels didn’t eat.