Monday, 20 January 2014

'The Roots Of My Obsession'


"Some folk fall into gardening, some are dragged into gardening, and a few others are born to garden. I fall into the latter category. There are a few marginal gardeners in my family but no one with what I now recognise as a single-minded passion. Just as a computer comes with certain pre-installed programs, I was born with a fully functioning 7.0 horticultural operating system, along with some specialised apps like an obsessive personality, an overactive imagination, an overly logical brain and a touch of ADD"
- Tony Avent. 

This has been declared the year of reducing the perilous mountain of books and virtual books that have been accumulating over the last year or so. Bookshelves are groaning out aloud and the Kindle is in danger of spontaneous combustion. I blame it all on joining a reading group when I finished work. This has been great for taking me out of my comfort zone when it comes to reading, but the new to me authors and recommendations for further reading have reached epic proportions. For the foreseeable future new book purchases and using my library card will be carefully monitored. What I will be doing is concentrating on what is already under the roof.

Working on the logic that I will probably do more reading over the first three months and last three months of the year, the still to be touched gardening books are my immediate reading material. First candidate to emerge from the toppling pile has been 'The Roots Of My Obsession', in which 30 gardeners have been invited to write on the topic of why they garden. So the book is a series of short essays from the contributors who are in the main American and Canadian, although a few well known British gardeners also feature i.e.Fergus Garrett, Helen Dillon, Roy Lancaster, Anna Pavord, Penelope Hobhouse and David Wheeler. I had come across only a handful of the other contributor's writing before. In fact reading this book has left me with yet another list of authors and books that I would like to read which is defeating the object of the exercise somewhat.

At 162 pages this is a book that you can either read from cover to cover in a reasonably short time or savour it in bite sized chunks. It is a prefect dipping into book. There are no illustrations but they are not needed. As to why people garden the reasons are varied and make for delightful reading. I felt as if I had come across a number of kindred souls like Amy Stewart who writes "I'm not into shoes, lipsticks or fast cars. I'm into palm leaf begonias, because they are madcap Victorian creations that bring to mind dirigibles, Paris green wallpaper and opium dens. I garden because I can't help myself". What I did note is that many of the contributor's interest in plants and gardens began when they were children. It has certainly made me think about why I garden - maybe a subject for a future post. Now the deed has been done I'm not sure whether I can be ruthless enough to weed this particular book out of the book mountain and dispatch to the literary compost heap. More book reviews to follow as the year unfolds. Meanwhile I would ask you to tell me which gardening book you've enjoyed recently but that could prove fatal .......

'The Roots Of My Obsession', IBSN 13:978-1-60469-271-6 is edited by Thomas C. Cooper and is was published by Timber Press in 2012. It is available as a paperback and there is also a Kindle edition.

26 comments:

  1. Books, you open one, you discover more! I'm fascinated by this book now, a book on insights which is promising as you can always pick up wisdom from them, both philosophical and practical.

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    1. You've hit the nail on the head - each books leads to another journey which enriches the whole experience of reading :)

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  2. Oh this post hit the spot - I could have written it myself. I have a shelf full of gardening books that have only had the pictures looked at but haven't actually been read. It's just finding the time isn't it. This Christmas I had Virginia Woolf's Garden by Caroline Zoob as a present and have just bought The Garden by Dan Pearson from a charity bookshop - both are wonderful and deserve a full reading. Now your recommendation sounds like another I would enjoy - oh dear.

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    1. Yes it's finding the time Elaine that's the issue - it would be great if we did not have to sleep:)
      I have comes across references to Caroline Zoob's book which looks a good read but have resisted so far ..... not so sure how long my willpower will last.

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  3. With the cold weather keeping me inside for the past few weeks, it seems like all I've been doing is reading books! When it comes to gardening books, I'm more into how-to books with lots of colorful photos for inspiration. I'm trying to take more notes as I read through them, though, so I don't forget all these great ideas come spring. The librarians must know I have spring fever--I walk away with a mountain of garden books every time I go:)

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    1. It's definitely the time of year to catch up with gardening books Rose so that we can put all the information we absorb into practice. Trouble is finding the time to read the notes when the new season starts.

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  4. I haven't come across this book and I will look out for it. You have raised two interesting points here; why we garden, and what gardeners like to read. I think both these points are worth exploring. I enjoy reading bloggers' book reviews. Great that you intend to do one from time to time.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Chloris. Would be interesting to find out why we all garden and again it's always great to find out what everyone is reading. Will hopefully be back with another review or two before spring :)

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  5. Hi Anna. This looks a really good read and I'll put it on the wants list for later. Aside, I had to look up 'dirigibles'. Its an airship thingy.

    As to what I'm reading, not a lot really, doing renovation work so not in garden (ing) mode, except for the occasional flic through of Nicole de Vésian - Gardens: Modern Design in Provence, which has beautiful photographs (Clive Nichols) and lets me dream of Summer - It's dreary outside right now!

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    1. You and me both Rob ie that's look up 'dirigibles' but discovering new words is all part of the joy of reading :) That's where the Kindle has the edge - the definition is there at your finger tips. Just googled your reading matter which looks most enticing and just the remedy for these bleak days.

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  6. I also have a nice big pile of books waiting to be read! This one sounds good too... I'm currently reading a great novel - "The Knot" - based around the family life of a botanist in the 16th century near Bristol... I am sure I'll be reviewing it soon, and fear that your reading list may have to grow! Happy reading Anna!

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    1. That's another one already in my to be read pile Cathy but will be interested to read what you have to say about it. Your review may well have a deciding influence as to whereabouts in the pile it ends up :)

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  7. This book sounds like the perfect read for these long winter nights, Anna, and if my shelves start to groan even more I shall blame you for it. ;) I'm reading The Garden of Virginia Woolf which is interesting; photography a bit disappointing but the author dug up some interesting stories. It's heavy though - I warn you (weight wise that is)!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Annette and I apologise to your bookshelf in advance. Sometimes a book's weight can take the edge off your enjoyment of reading it especially if like me you occasionally drop them on your toes. Will look out for this title but only when the to be read pile is done and dusted :)

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  8. Getting rid of books? Are you sure Anna? Not so sure I could do that - but perhaps they are too easy and cheap to buy these days, not like spending hours choosing books in a bookshop as a teenager, when it was a special treat and required saving up.... With writing this blog I have thought more about my different phases of interest in gardens since being a child, and which I realise was .dependent on so many other factors. I am currently reading 'The Morville Hours' by Katherine Swift, a Christmas present, and a book which is proving to appeal to my interest not just in gardens but words and thoughts and traditions and how everything fits together.

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    1. A case of needs must Cathy and yes I'm sure:) Some of them have been unopened for more years than I care to remember and could give somebody else the same pleasure as they gave me. Yes I remember saving up for books as a teenager too and how a new book was such a treat. Glad to read that you are enjoying 'The Morville Hours' which contains some most thoughtful and beautiful writing.

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  9. The problem with books is that you open the cover and it leads you to more books you want to add to your collection. This sounds a really good read. I especially enjoy books which I can dip in and out of, they're great for bedtime reading.

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    1. You are quite right Jo - I read most of this book in bed in bite sized chunks.

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  10. I'm just reading Anne Wareham's The Bad Tempered Gardener and Monty Don's Ivington Diaries. Both are excellent. I dream of having a 2 week holiday with a big stack of books just so I can try and get through some of the ones I want to read. Maybe one day. ;0

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    1. A reading holiday sounds a good idea in theory WW. I've been on holiday for the last five years or so but somehow it hasn't worked out like that :)

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  11. Oh, I like the sound of that book, Anna! I wonder how many gardeners stop to wonder why they do it? I'm another that loved helping out in the garden as a child - both my grandfathers were keen - one on veg, the other on flowers. I just wish I'd realised a lot earlier that it was a viable career choice! I'm currently reading 'Cuttings' by Christopher Lloyd with several more books waiting in the wings. I'm more usually found dipping into books like 'Tough Plants for Tough Places' or whatever will help with the latest garden design assignment!

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    1. I think that you would enjoy the book Caro. My interest in plants was probably always there as a child but perhaps I did not realise it at the time. One of my leaving presents from my colleagues at work was a copy of 'Cuttings' :)

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  12. That sounds like the perfect dip-in-to read, though I sympathise with it leading on to an even longer "must try" list, occupational hazard of the avid reader! I am currently reading Christopher Lloyd's Successional Planting book, which is wonderfully challenging and inspirational, but I keep having to go back over it. And I am not letting myself take notes. yet. It will just lead to an enormous must-have plant list, and I already have one of those...

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    1. Your comment bought a smile to my face Janet at the thought of you not allowing yourself to take notes ...... yet. I'm sure you will at some point.

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  13. I'm a recent convert to ebooks partly down to the no more room on my bookshelves. I'm going to have to think really hard about culling - Do I really need an atlas that is x years old and pre the formation of the new countries around the Baltics?

    As for paperback novels - well I may want to read them again sometime? To be fair I do reread books that I have read years ago where Ihave forgotten the story.

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  14. As you comment suggests Sue ebooks are great space savers. I think that all the atlases and the globe in this house reflect a different world :) I have hung on to a lot of books thinking that I may read them again but have come to the conclusion that there are still so many new to me books that I want to read that it's time to say goodbye to most of the old. Trouble is which ones? :)

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All your comments are much appreciated and treasured. I wil try to reply to everyone who leaves a comment, but it may take me a few days, especially when I start spending more time in the garden and at the lottie. I know that you will understand :) I am sure that I will also visit your blog if I have not already done so. If you have any specific questions I will either reply to them here or you can email me at : thegreentapestry@gmail.com

Namasté

- Anna.