Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Quote of the day


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.
K
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...
K

11 comments:

Carol said...

A wonderful quote... and very apt too. Thank you for the info on Bonnie Marranca! I will find her book. Your Stewartia is lovely and your description is equal to its charm. (ps... Olmsted has somehow picked up a 't'... these sneaky little typos).

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hi Carol, I am sure you will enjoy this selection of essays; such a lovely collection from the historical to the contemporary within gardening. And I really did not notice the "dt" - I'll fix that as it is such a well-known name :-)

Jean Bradbury said...

Oh how funny. I just planted a Stewartia on the weekend. It was my big splurge for the year as they are so pricey. It has little buds on it now, I wonder if they will open like your beautiful mature tree.

Camellia said...

Completely new for me, thanks for the introduction!

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Jean; good luck with your new Stewartia, they really are beautiful! And seems like you don't need to wait either, as yours already has buds...

Camellia, I'm sure you will love this one as it is very much like a single-flowered camellia! Not evergreen, though.

Karen said...

Stewartia is on my short list for the back garden - how lovely yours is, and that you got one along with your new place!

Sorry I have been out of touch, too much going on, I will have to look back through your previous posts to see what kind of garden you are working with after such a long and challenging wait! I hope you are having fun in it.

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Karen, I understand you're busy; I'm too, the days go way too fast. This time of the year everything seems to be happening, with the kids and with everything else. I hope to make it to Daniel's garden, that would be so lovely, so we can have a chat again.

Tant Grön said...

Stewartia, en ny bekantskap! Den borde vara möjlig att plantera här hos mig i Bohuslän om den är härdig till zon 3. Måste genast ta reda på mer om den.
Och tack för lästips om amerikanska trädgårdstankar. De förekommer inte så ofta i våra boklådor och bokklubbar. Jag har bara läst Michael Pollan. Men min äldste son kan inte sluta prata om Thoreau när vi diskuterar trädgård-och litteratur också förstås- så nog finns det amerikansk trädgårdsfilosofi som tagit sig över Atlanten!

Daniel Mount said...

How lucky to inherit a Stewartia. we mostly inherited natives like nootka roses. Thanks for the reading tip. i'll look for the book. The desire is like Joni Mitchell sand..." we've gotta get ourselves back to some semblance of The Garden"

Daniel Mount said...

P.S. Sorry for the bad editing of that comment. D.

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Daniel, despite Joni M. being one of my favourite artists, I can't remember that quote; thanks, it is wonderful.