It’s a bit frustrating to read a book like The Curious Gardener’s Almanac during this heat wave we’re calling summer. Unless I want to dig a hole at four in the morning, there’s a good chance I’ll pass out before I’ve hit clay. Books like the Almanac inspire me; not with any particular project but with taming the little bit of wild in my yard in general.
Niall Edworthy moved to West Sussex, England after living most of his adult life in cities like London and Edinburgh. Suddenly he had a real, large house and a larger yard with the remains of a vegetable garden. His efforts to tame the wild jungle that grew from his laziness turned into this book.
The Almanac is divided into broad categories: Vegetables, Flowers, Trees and Shrubs. My favorite category is Children. Edworthy devotes the final chapter to all the wonderful adventures a child can have in a garden. It also includes necessary facts about worms and caterpillars.
The words meander along, quotes followed by recipes then a practical tip tossed in for good measure. It is an excellent book to dip into, just for a page or two – although I have found myself on many occasions sitting down for twenty or so pages at a stretch before I catch myself.
The index is comprehensive, which is a good thing, since you’ll never remember where you found that bit about mint repelling insects. (Page 108, by the way.)
Some of my favorite quotes:
Gardens should be like lovely, well-shaped girls: all curves, secret corners, unexpected deviations, seductive surprises and then still more curves.
H.E. Bates (1905-74)
“A Love of Flowers”
What a man needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge on it.
Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1901)
The soil is the gift of God to the living.
Thomas Jefferson, 1813
What is a weed? I have heard it said that there are sixty definitions. For me, a weed is a plant out of place.
Donald Culross Peattie
The more one gardens, the more one learns; and the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows. I suppose the whole of life is like that.
Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962)