“Sweeter yet than dream or song of Summer or Spring are Winter’s sometimes smiles.”*
Winter sometimes smiles around here with…
… the simple blooms of Oxalis, growing in my sunroom.
… a sunny day,
… the emergence of the slender leaves of crocus and snow drops,
… the still green leaves of the hellebores,
… a new gardening book.
The mailman recently brought me Gardens in Winter by Elizabeth Lawrence. With this delivery, I now have all the books Elizabeth wrote, except for one, plus the all the published compilations of her newspaper columns.
The one book I don’t have is Lob’s Wood. I have it on order, and hope to have it soon. Before last week, I never found a copy of it for less than $95, but now it appears that a secondary seller on Amazon.com has it for $20. But, they haven’t sent it yet, so I won’t count it as mine until it is safely on my doorstep.
Even though Eliz. Lawrence wrote about gardening from the perspective of her North Carolina climate and I garden two zones away in Indiana, I still enjoy her books. I like her style of writing and how she connected with gardeners across the country, keeping up coorespondence with many of them through letters and occasional visits.
She wrote in Gardens in Winter,
“I am often asked who these gardeners are whose letters I quote so frequently. They are just people who write to me because they are interested in the things I am interested in, and who send me notes of flowers and seasons. Some of them are well known, and some are plain dirt gardeners like me. What matters is not who they are but where they garden; for to be of any use, information about plants must be regional.”
Many garden bloggers, upon reading her books or columns, comment that had she been living today, Elizabeth Lawrence would most definitely have a garden blog and be in the “thick of it all” in the garden blogosphere.
We will never really know, but can be happy that she left us with several books and hundreds of newspaper columns full of her opinions, thoughts, questions, and observations about plants and gardening.
In the intro to Gardens in Winter, Elizabeth wrote,
“I never did care for fair-weather gardeners. Standing behind glass doors, they look out at the cold ground and leafless branches, and exclaim, “How beautiful this must be in spring!”
How beautiful it is now, I want to cry –as if a lavender wash was laid on the boles of the pine trees, and the pale trunks of the Oriental magnolias, on the purple bricks around the pool, the red earth, the amber gravel, and fawn-colored stone, drawing them all together in a series of related tones.
How beautiful it is when the pattern of the garden becomes clear again, when no leaves blur the long straight line or gentle curve, or the restful circle laid on the square, where levels are sharply defined, and intervals between steps have the rhythm of falling water, when hidden nests are revealed, distant tree tops unveiled and lost vistas regained.”
This month, you’ll find me mostly inside reading this book and browsing through seed catalogs. But I’ll venture outside often to look for these “winter’s sometimes smiles”. I don’t want to be mistaken for a “fair weather gardener”, I want to strive to be a “plain dirt gardener”!
And I want to appreciate the winter for what it brings, and not let it pass by as simply a long yearning for spring.
Visit Sweet Home and Garden Chicago for other posts with poetry or quotes today for Garden Bloggers Muse Day!
*Coventry Patmore, Selected Poems, edited by Derek Patmore (London, The Grey Walls Press, 1948)