The start of a new year! Possibilities are endless; reality will set in soon enough, but for now visions of spring beckon. When the weather was “nice enough” The Spouse and I went out walking through the development, or further afield. On not so nice days I curled up with a book; reading being another passion of mine since childhood.
In the small town of Bunnik in The Netherlands where I was born, we had a small library on the other side of our block. Two right turns from our house brought you to the library, two more right turns and I was back home. Starting sometime when I was around four years old (sis being eight by then) we were shooed out of the house on Saturday mornings to attend storytelling time. Our parents cleaned and shopped while we were gone, and I listened spellbound. Sis looked for books for herself and later, when I outgrew storytelling time, I looked for my own books.
Fast forward a few decades: now in the US, remarried, and after purchasing our first home with a bit of land attached to it, I became a gardener. The lot was one fifth of an acre, minus the footprint of the house and driveway, but that left me with enough ground to start gardening. Suddenly I found myself obsessed with plants, gardening layouts, ponds and fish, trees, you name it. The bookstore Borders was still around then and while I was not very willing to go out and do anything besides gardening on my weekends off, The Spouse could always talk me into a trip to Borders. There was the coffee shop, always good for a double espresso, not to mention something sweet on the side. And then there were the gardening magazines, those I didn’t subscribe to. Last, but definitely not least, there were books on sale, for only a few dollars I could buy gardening books and for twenty bucks I would come home with multiple books. That’s when I started my gardening library.
When Borders ceased to exist, we started going to Barnes & Nobles for coffee, something on the side, magazines, and gardening books. While they may not have as many gardening books on sale as Borders had, I treat myself occasionally to a full price book to augment my library. Not too long ago I bought “Gardens of the World” by DK Eyewitness, eye candy of famous gardens throughout the world, including the Keukenhof (Kitchen garden) in Holland, or Longwood Gardens, so near us. If I ever had a bucket list, it would be to visit each and every garden in this book! It would take me around the world, to just about every continent and many, many different countries. My passport would probably run out of pages to document entry in all of them.
Once in a while I come across a reference to a book that sounds interesting and that’s when I go down the rabbit hole of thriftbooks.com. Only a few weeks ago I bought the 1931 edition of “The Gardener’s Year” by Karel Čapek with the quirkiest illustrations by his brother Josef Čapek. Another gem, found at our secondhand bookstore, an anthology by Robin Lane Fox of Vita Sackville West’s “Illustrated Garden Book”. It is a collection of some of her columns about plants, gardening, successes, or plants that didn’t work so well, occasional travel and the start of her, by now, world famous white garden. It is interesting to read about her vision for this garden as she is putting it together. Another gem found at a secondhand bookstore is “The Englishwoman’s Garden”. Thirty-six woman gardeners tell the story of their garden, but my absolute favorite story is from one woman who states her kids loved taking pictures of her bum sticking up in the air as she was busy planting or weeding. Talk about being down to earth! Oh, and there are some great pictures of all of the different gardens as well.
One day turns into the next, this first month of the year. Soon enough the first hardy snowdrops will push up through semi-frozen soil and surprise us with their white flowers. Till then, I read, re-read and dream of what is to come.