What is a garden but a species of desire?
Such a short sentence, containing the true essence of gardening... I love how it leaves everything open for the reader to interpret the meaning of "desire" - for some, it might mean aesthetic issues, for other, practical or ecological; so many possibilities in one short question. This quote is by Bonnie Marranca in her preface for American Garden Writing, an Anthology (2003), in which she has chosen more than fifty essays from travel journals, letters and personal essays of the country's most famous gardeners and garden writers. Some of the writers included in this highly interesting volume are internationally well-known like Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Law Olmsted, Henry David Thoreau and Beatrice Farrand (well, at least if you are interested in garden history), but some of them are probably known to the American public only. The range of the essays is wide, from aesthetic considerations to growing beans and the morals of composting. This excellent collection has given me many new writers to study further, and I recommend it warmly for anyone who would like to get a glimpse at the ways in which Americans have worked, thought and written about their gardens from the earliest Colonial days to the present.
The Stewartia pseudocamellias are just starting to flower in my garden. I am totally taken by this beautiful plant that has so many virtues to recommend it: lovely, round buds that open to delicate flowers with white, fringed petals and bright yellow stamens looking from them; glossy, healthy-looking leaves which turn to a lovely bronze red in the autumn, and a grey and reddish bark that looks stunning all the year. Stewartias are quite hardy and can be grown even in the Scandinavian, cold climates up to the Swedish Zone 3, which is about as far North as Stockholm, but I've never grown them myself; in Sweden they were very pricey and the nurseries always warned about the long time they take to establish and flower for the first time, which could be up to 5 or 7 years. It is lovely to "inherit" plants like this, getting to enjoy them directly without the long wait...