by Charles Dudley Warner 1829-1900
Garden Blogger's Book Club selection June-July 2007
Visit May Dreams Garden for the virtual meeting and other contributions.
Charles Dudley Warner grows tomatoes and beans, visits with a president, has disagreements with neighbors, and tries to protect his harvest (with some limited success) from wild creatures and children.
He is a real life gardener. Even though admitting to hiring out some of the work he is proud of his contributions of hoeing and weeding and is jealous of the credit.
Like all good gardeners confronted with a visitor the garden gets a going over...
"I, however, hoed diligently on Saturday: what weeds I could n't remove I buried, so that everything would look all right. The borders of my drive were trimmed with scissors; and everything that could offend the Eye of the Great was hustled out of the way. "
Insists to not needing designers to enjoy a great garden...
"He asked me if I pursued an original course, or whether I got my ideas from writers on the subject. I told him that I had had no time to read anything on the subject since I began to hoe, except "Lothair," from which I got my ideas of landscape gardening; and that I had worked the garden entirely according to my own notions."
Warners compassion for fellow creatures is put to the test and wavers...
"When I went to pick them, I found the pods all split open, and the peas gone. The dear little birds,who are so fond of the strawberries, had eaten them all.
I petted Calvin (his cat). I lavished upon him an enthusiastic fondness. I told him that he had no fault;that the one action that I had called a vice was an heroic exhibition of regard for my interests."
I must admit to ignorance of some wit. ..
"A man of war, he knows the value of peas. I told him they were an excellent sort, "The Champion of England." As quick as a flash he said, "Why don't you call them 'The Reverdy Johnson'?" It was a very clever bon-mot; but I changed the subject."
While understanding much all to well...
"The sight of my squashes, with stalks as big as speaking-trumpets, restored the President to his usual spirits. He said the summer squash was the most ludicrous vegetable he knew. It was nearly all leaf and blow, with only a sickly, crook-necked fruit after a mighty fuss. It reminded him of the member of Congress from...; but I hastened to change the subject."
I liked Warner's philosophy...
"The man who has planted a garden feels that he has done something for the good of the World. He belongs to the producers. It is a pleasure to eat of the fruit of one's toil, if it be nothing more than a head of lettuce or an ear of corn. "
"It is not much matter if things do not turn out well."
The book was easy and quick to read, capturing attention from the start with an excellent introduction letter.