Friday, November 24, 2006

I'm knee deep in several fiction titles at the moment but not near enough finishing any of them to write about them. In the meantime, I gaze out at our leaf strewn rear lawn and dream of the spring. Actually I like this time of year: the cold keeps the air crisp and there is a particular clarity of the light which is hard to describe. I woke this morning to a powder blue dawn, skeletal trees across the bridle way outlined against the sky, and low lying metal grey-blue clouds on the horizon.

My dreams of the spring are not to hasten it, but are me plotting out the vegetable patch in my head, my future abundant herb garden, banks of wildflowers, the compost heap, and so on...The pleasure is all in drawing out the planning, for which long winter nights and a Persephone notebook are all important, for sketches, and border plans, and my increasingly lengthy list of herbs.

I've just finished STICKY WICKET: Gardening in tune with nature by Pam Lewis which has added greatly to my enthusiasms about our little garden. Of course, down in Dorset she has a much larger property, but there's plenty here for really any sized garden (even a balcony full of pots) because it is her enjoyment of her garden and the ideas she brims with which make for such a satisfying book.

Lewis's focus is on gardening with plants that complement the natural environment and animals. This just so happens to tally with what we are hoping to eventually achieve in our garden and so it is fascinating to read what has worked (and not!) for her. I like her approach:
A wildlife wilderness needs thickets to give cover and, design-wise, to add to the sense that all is not quite revealed, accessible or entirely controlled. I try to enter the mind of a hedgehog, slow-worm, bird or a mouse and think what, for them, would represent a safe, protected environment. For instance, tuckering down or nesting in - or beneath - a tangle of unclipped evergreen privet, a thorny pyracantha or a hawthorn hedge bottom would seem like a snug, safe and private little kingdom (p.152).
What a wonderful concept of both garden and wildlife lurking, in a positive sense, and providing the space to allow that. STICKY WICKET is made up of several interlinked gardens (rather as Sissinghurst flows, I imagine, perhaps incorrectly, but a lot less formally). Lewis covers the creation and construction of each with discussions about how they reached planting decisions, how wildlife has reacted, and her thoughts as the gardens filled out. Accompanying all this are lovely photographs. I highly recommend STICKY WICKET as a gift for any gardener of your acquaintance. It has the added benefit that if they like the book, the gardens for which the book is named are also open to the public - I'm plotting an excursion for next year already!

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Anonymous Ann said...

Please don't talk about leaf-strewn gardens. It reminds me that I am going to have to do something about mine. But I'm with you on these beautiful sky-blue clear sharp days. I've just come in from walking in our local Botanical Gardens and feel like a millionaire just because of the fresh air and the pleasure of being on the move.

5:33 pm  
Blogger equiano said...

You made me laugh, Ann - we spent the weekend raking like crazy, and more just keeps coming!

10:42 am  

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