Six On Saturday: Books and Gardens or Gardens and Books?

When I left on vacation one year I looked over my list and just glanced at a title I had placed in my wish list book pile. So I downloaded The Butterfly Garden by Dot Richardson, not bothering to read an excerpt, believing I had done so before I put it on my wish list and just thinking from the title that it would make a good read while I visited the gardens on the English Garden Tours.

Was I in for a surprise when I opened that book! Now I have to tell you I don’t watch scary movies or TV programs. At my age the daily news is enough bad stuff for me and and I tend to turn that off too. Neither am I a prude or shrinking violet, I was a Registered Nurse for many years and worked critical care, so gory is not a problem for me. But, this book turned out to be a psychological thriller and I was so shocked by the first chapter that I simply could not put the book down because I had to know how everything turned out! All, I am going to say is, that it was quite graphic, frightening and a good read! I will NEVER be able to look at a butterfly floating lazily among the flowers or a butterfly collection in the same way again!

That book made me promise myself to always read the review before I place a book on my wish list and again before I download it. I think I’ll go back to my lovely gardening books of flowers and vegetable patches, sun-dappled paths and golden brick walls and give my heart a rest! Take heed, but if this kind of thriller is an interest for you, you will not be disappointed!

The Butterfly Garden

This is my favorite groundcover; saxifragis x urbium.  It is called “London Pride,” and has been grown along garden paths, in England, since the 1700’s. It has a fragile, spiky, soft pink flower in spring. Many of the elderly folks are drawn to this plant because they are reminded of their time during WWII and Noël Coward’s song, by the same name, recorded during the Blitz. Cuttings from this plant quickly re-colonized at bomb sites and reminded Londeners that they too could re-build and move forward!  Listen to it Here! Do any of you remember it? The video and music is a tear jerker! I found this patch of Pride at Pashley Gardens in the UK. To see more about Pashley look HERE!

London Pride

I like to read, a lot. I read over 60 books a year and every year, especially during the winter months, I gear up! I have enjoyed reading books on gardens, especially gardens I have visited in the UK on my English Garden Tours. Virginia Woolf’s Garden, by Caroline Zoob, has become one of my favorite reads. I loved the photographs and details of the gardening skills of Zoob, while she and her husband were the caretakers of Monk’s House (the home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf) for ten years for the National Trust. It also was a look into the Woolf’s private lives during their time at Monk’s House, beginning with how they came to own the property, up until the time of Leonard’s death. So to me, it was a gardening book and a history book, which I loved! If I could live in Monk’s House I would, because I think it is a lovely house in a very rural area, that is surrounded by a beautiful small garden. It also has a little She-Shed in the back garden where Virginia did her writing and I could do mine too! What could be better than that?  To see a post that I wrote about this garden, look Here.

Virginia Woolf’s Garden

If you are a fan of mysteries, like I am, you will find the Garden at Greenway a delight! Greenway is the home of my favorite author of all time, Agatha Christy.  This plant is called a Navel Plant (that’s what they told me, does anyone know its botanical name?) and grows in between the rocky ledges in her garden wall. To read more about the beautiful Greenway and how it influenced Agatha Christy and her books,  look Here!

Navels from Agatha Christy

Great Dixter is another garden that I fell in love with when I visited. This garden included the oust buildings, where the hops would dry out for beer brewing…………..I’ve yet to read a book from Christopher Lloyd, but he is on my list of authors to read. I guess I didn’t start with Christopher, because I think he would be a little above (more likely, way above) my experience of gardening. I have to work my way up in knowledge, or I am completely dithered! So HERE you can see more of Great Dixter!


Great Dixter Garden

And this week I finished, Plot 29, by Allan Jenkins. I think one of the SOS gardeners suggested it as a good read…………..Oh, boy is it! I could not put this book down! It is a true story from a man, who had a very severe childhood, (to say the least), and how he came to grips with his past. The garden kept him sane.

One year, I did a plot, when the church in our neighborhood had an opening in their vegetable garden. I knew nothing about vegetables or when to plant them. All the folks at the plot were so helpful. They said they would help me with the weed infested, overgrown space I took. I pulled out weeds and such to get down to the real problem. I wanted to find the actual dirt. I came several days in a row and every day I came back I found that someone or maybe many someone’s had been trying to get my plot ready. Then they left me a note, telling what kind of soil to get, and what kind of fertilizer to put on it, before I put one plant in it. They probably knew how anxious I was to just plant! So, when the plot was ready, per their instructions, I planted and planted; lots of lettuce and herbs and tomatoes and more lettuce and more lettuce…………..I had soooooooo much lettuce!

I would take a wagon and walk up the hill to fetch my produce, oh my those were the days. Sadly, I can no longer do a vegetable plot, because I am gone too much to care for it tenderly. But, I know what a plot of earth can do for you!

My Vegetable Plot 
Plot 29

That is my SOS for today! I hope you have looked at a few of these gardens as well! I have written several posts on different gardens all over the world, but I have to say, to me, English gardens are THE BEST! I find when I go to a garden I want to know more about it. I want to know, who lived there and took care of it. What were they like? Why did they garden? What was the history of the garden? Did the garden have any secrets to share? I find I’m drawn to books about gardens and gardening! How about you? What have you read? Do you belong to a garden club? Do they discuss gardening books? Please share your thoughts, it would be very interesting to me!

Won’t you join us with your SOS?

The instructions for SOS are easy. The photos can be flowers, vegetables, a garden design, whatever, as long as it’s garden related and posted on Saturday!  So, it’s six photos . Of Gardens. On Saturday. Easy Peasy. To see all the SOS’s look at  SIX ON SATURDAY, hosted by the Propagator, to check out all of them each Saturday! See you next week in another spot!

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Heyjude says:

    The navel plant is Umbilicus rupestris or Navelwort . It grows all over in the cracks of the stone walls here in Cornwal, except MY walls! How is that? I would really like that Virginia Woolf book although I do keep saying that I must not buy any more books! I have visited Greenway and Great Dixter and you have reminded me that I have not yet written a post on Greenway! Visiting gardens is a passion of mine 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HeyJude, thank you for educating me on Navelwort! I really liked that plant too. Isn’t it amazing how one plant will grow in one place and not in another? I have that trouble too! I would love to grow sweet peas, but there is no way they will grow for me. The other wonderful piece of the Virginia Woolf book was Carolyn Zoob, who managed and lived in the house for the National Trust, made embroideries of all the gardens and they are scattered throughout the book as backgrounds! I can imagine how much work she has in those! It is the book that I look over and read again and again! I look forward to more of your posts on gardens!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I LOVED reading your SOS garden stories! Just yesterday I came across Caroline Zoob’s title mentioned in a delightful little book of essays that my husband gave me for Christmas, LIFE IN THE GARDEN by Penelope Lively. Now, here I find a picture of the cover of VIRGINIA WOOLF’S GARDEN! Lively also mentions Vita Sackville-West and Gertrude Jekyll, both of whom I’ve read much about but not their actual books; they’ve yet to show up under any Christmas tree or my birthday tea table!

    Penelope Lively’s first essay covers quite a bit of ground in the history of gardens and gardening from ancient times in Mesopotamia. It’s almost like a follow-up of my recent series on Invitation to the Garden blog, albeit without pictures or illustrations.

    Penelope Lively is a British author, award-winning novelist and well-known for her children’s literature. I had not heard of her before. She writes, “To garden is to elide past, present, and future; it is a defiance of time.”

    An old favorite of mine has been A SOUTHERN GARDEN by Elizabeth Lawrence, first published in 1942 and reprinted in 1991 by the University of North Carolina Press, and her companion book, THROUGH THE GARDEN GATE. That one I gave to my daughter when she lived in Virginia a number of years ago. I believe Lawrence’s collection of essays in these two books inspired me to begin my own garden writing after I retired from journalism. It helps me defy time.

    ~ Jo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You and I are cut from the same cloth when it comes to gardens and gardening! I have all of Elizabeth Lawrence’s books, have been to her garden and belong to her garden’s garden club! She’s past now, but let me tell you her garden and the going’s on there are alive and well! What is so unusual about her garden, to me, is that it is in the middle of a busy neighborhood! Their property was bought when that area was considered quite far out and people could buy larger pieces of property. Over the years the properties around hers were bought up and lots of houses went in quite close together. It is quite something though and is also an Audubon bird sanctuary. I have a book called Plants in Garden History by Penelope Hobhouse. It is a huge book and practically started with Adam and Eve and I just now am getting through Egypt! This book is rather a task so I read it in spurts. The layouts of the gardens are quite interesting and why they were made in certain ways.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My blog, Invitation to the Garden, can be found on at each Friday/Saturday. This week’s post, “Birds of a Feather,” talks about little winter birds that flock through my gardens, some on their way somewhere else, many to stay here. ~ Jo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jo, I read your bird post and enjoyed it. I get mockingbirds every year in my holly trees! Love them and then last year I brought home a fallen nest that my friend had found in her garden. I put that nest in a fern pot on my front porch and before you know it another bird came along and built a burrowing nest right next to it and had babies! It was so much fun watching them, they got used to our coming and goings and did not mind us at all! I also read your post on the the Smithsonian’s garden! It is so sad! I get the blog posts from Old House Gardens and there was a posting on there from the head gardener at Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West’s garden and he said the garden is making drastic changes to keep the environmentalists and eco-friendly folks so happy that he fears soon it won’t reflect her or gardening as she did. What a shame! I visit that garden every time I go to the UK! It is magical! I have written posts about her garden you may want to check out! Keep in touch! Oh, I wrote a post about that bird’s nest too! Ha Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. One Man And His Garden Trowel says:

    Crikey, those lettuces, etc., look perfect. Great Dixter Garden looks rather nice. I can cope with one scary book once in a while but no more than that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a green thumb sometimes and the rest of the time I think God is just trying to help me out because He knows I have no clue! I am learning little by little!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. patch405 says:

    I loved your post this week. I haven’t gardened today. Cold and extremely windy in Oklahoma makes for the perfect day to stay indoors … and read!


  6. I didn’t realize that Elizabeth Lawrence’s garden still exists and is kept up by the garden society ladies there — including you! You must live in North Carolina. I’m not familiar with her other books so I’ll Google for titles. She’s so lovely to read!


    1. Yes, I live about 20 minutes outside of Charlotte

      Liked by 1 person

  7. cavershamjj says:

    I must go to great dixter. It’s ridiculous that I haven’t, it’s only a couple of hours down the road. I’ve read a few of Lloyds books, they are very accessible actually. Would recommend “the well tempered gardener”. A classic and can be picked up pretty cheap 2nd hand.


    1. Thank you for the recommendation. I ordered the book as it is my birthday! Ha ha! A gift for me! If you go to Great Dixter go to Pashley Gardens too. We loved them!


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