Monday, January 28, 2008

'Dear Friend and Gardener: Letters on Life and Gardening' by Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd

The Garden Bloggers Book Club choice for December/January.
Host Carol at May Dreams Garden

I did read this book, just happens it was a couple of years ago. I wanted to reread at least a few chapters to refresh but left it until too late it seems. So memory must serve. This book is worth a read and another read when time serves. The gardeners are obviously real friends even though the format of the book in letters is pre-arranged. The visits to each others homes and get togethers are frequent. The over all tone is affectionate and personal,sometimes teasing and at others concerned. They know each others gardens and habits.

These people whose lives are immersed in gardening are interesting with their chatter about weather and plantings. An added bonus to the reader being that both Lloyd and Chatto have gardens open to the public and both are garden writers of note. So one hears of visitor encounters and maintenance worries. Life entails cooking what ever is ready and abundant in the garden and social forays off season when the gardens need not be supervised. Lloyd in particular seemed to know a great many in horticulture, including students looking to learn from the association with such a mentor. There are always awards to attend and fellow gardeners with which to hobnob.

While Lloyd's feisty character and bold opinions shine through all his writing it is Beth Chatto that I got to know through this book. I had heard little of her before this writing and was surprised to find an advocate of a more natural style of gardening. Her book 'The Gravel Garden' is very current with its premise of placing the right drought resistant plants into existing poor dry soils rather than amending and irrigating.
Beth Chatto's life seemed so ideal, a small private plant nursery, extensive gardens in which to experiment, her writing published even though never having much formal education in the field. Even a long standing marriage to a partner that shared her particular interest. The good life indeed.

Books of letters and communication between gardeners give us a look at some of the ways older gardeners accomplish their tasks. I was taken by the descriptions of how root vegetables are stored and greens were grown through the winter. Often young gardeners look to modern technology for answers when a green way already exists. We just need to see it with new eyes.

I look forward to reading what others have to say.

97 titles by Christopher Lloyd

Yes there is more than one Lloyd listed, but they all look interesting and this was the most extensive list of C. Lloyds garden books that I could find...LOL

Garden Pictures

Publications Beth Chatto

Garden Pictures

My Previous months Book Club entries...


Blogger Lisa at Greenbow said...

A good review of a good book about the good life.

29/1/08 6:31 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

Gloria, you have quite a good memory. I think this is a book I'll read again sometime.

Thanks again for joining us for the book club!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

29/1/08 10:21 PM  
Blogger jodi said...

Nicely done Gloria! And it's true--though Beth Chatto does have some books published, Christopher Lloyd was the prolific one, and we do get to know Beth better through their conversations.

30/1/08 8:33 PM  
Blogger Nan - said...

Good review!

I did like the notes about cooking, and the vegetable gardens. I expected the book to be 'just' about flowers. I'd like to read CL's book on cooking.

3/2/08 8:42 AM  
Blogger Entangled said...

You mentioned something about Christopher Lloyd that impressed me too - his eagerness to have students at Great Dixter. He seemed also to enjoy entertaining and having a house full of guests - a gregarious bon vivant. Reading the book made me wish I had known him.

5/2/08 7:36 PM  

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