Friday, January 22, 2010

Have you ever read...

The Desert Garden at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. Picture from Wikimedia, I'm visiting this garden in late February.

Wonderful garden writing can sometimes turn up in completely unexpected places. My family has been subscribing to the Financial Times for some time, and I usually skim it through just to get an idea of what is going on in the world. However, their weekend edition has turned into a favourite of mine, full of articles about art and culture around the world. On Saturday mornings, it is a treat to read the last page at the House and Home section, which often contains a garden column by Robin Lane Fox, an English historian. Lane Fox is a Fellow of New College in Oxford, and University of Oxford Reader in Ancient History. His book Alexander the Great (1974) was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and he has written about the different cultural aspects of the Classical Mediterranean world. As gardening is another of Lane Fox's great interests, he has also written a book with title Better Gardening besides his gardening column in Financial Times.

Sphaeralcea ambiqua, Desert Mallow, blooming in the Desert Garden. Photo Huntington Botanical.

In his garden columns in Financial Times, Robin Lane Fox writes about plants, gardens and garden history around the world. He often complements his texts with personal associations and details related to his main theme. Often, he gives details that can be quite unexpected in the context. Lane Fox's texts are always well-researched and have an enjoyable depth of knowledge, and his background gives him a strong credibility even as a garden writer. In the latest column, Appetite for Desert, he writes about the Desert Garden in the Botanical Garden of the Huntington Library in California, and gives some interesting quotes, for example by Roberto Burle Marx, a great 20th century landscape architect, who thought that Huntington was the most extraordinary garden in the world.K
In my opinion, Lane Fox's texts are enjoyably British in their style, even if his frequent use of words like 'lovely', exceptional' and 'extraordinary' put sometimes a slight smile on my face. I can almost hear his voice speaking (in this case, in correct Oxford English...) while reading his writings, which is something that only very good writers manage to do. See if you enjoy Robin Lane Fox's columns too, one of my favourites was about the mysterious gardens at Ninfa, which I hope to visit some time in the not so distant future.

1 comment:

Ruben said...

Tack för tipset! Trevlig läsning, det gav mersmak. Får ge mig i kast med övriga artiklar vid ett senare tillfälle. /Ruben