Thursday, 5 June 2008

Deeply Dippy

The Blogtastic VP asks:

What's your favourite dippable book?

You know the kind of thing - you're in your lounger on the patio (ignore that weed RPF), glass of nice chilled something in 1 hand, dippable book in the other, doesn't matter if you have a quick snooze in between reading...Mine's 'The Faber Book of Gardens' at the moment, edited by Philip Robinson. It's where I found Ted Hughes' Thrushes poem I posted the other day.


Alex said...

At the moment I'm dipping in and out of Alessandro Rocca's marvellous Natural Architecture, the happy collision between buildings and growing things.

emmat said...

This is going to sound ingratiating, as you did give it to me, but I really do love James A-S's 101 Bold and Beautiful Flowers. It's becoming like a chapbook to me, small enough to go in my pocket and be carried around for when I need a little blast of delight and calm. And it's a perfect "dipping" book because there's just one flower on each little page.

I always really like his column (in Gardeners World magazine, for those who generally abstain from buying it). But to have them all in one volume is such a treat.

The thing is that he has such a distinctive and enjoyable tone when he writes; and that it's such a personal choice of plants - it's like being given a garden tour by him or something.

He is just marvellous at describing plants, writing about them in a way that completely sums up what's great and individual about a variety. For eg: what about this description of "Black Magic" sunflower?

"Where the yellow one is coarse, this is more suave and sophisticated. It is the same colour as a Mississippi gambler's waistcoat and every bit as louche. Even the slight shagginess of the petals make it look as if it has been up all night losing its pearl buttons in a smoky game of five-card stud."*

See how beautifully that captures the plant: you will never see one again without thinking of the gambler's waistcoat...

Such a very, very good writer. That description bears endless re-reading, too. I hope this is the first of lots of books.

*This is also, like many pieces of writing, a very nice self-portrait. :-)

VP said...

Curses Emmat, I had a lovely review of JAS' book lined up for my blog and you've got all my best stuff here! And you've said it so much better than I could have done!All I'm left with is a lonely picture of said book in my shopping basket alongside some seeds plus herbs from the Hairy Pot Company.

VP said...

I see I also rated Matthew Wilson's book as being Dippable when I reviewed it. However, it's more a winter planning and dreaming about gardens, adding to my project list dippable rather than out on the patio.

Helen said...

My favourtie dippable book is Christopher Lloyd ' The Well Tempered Gardener'. My mother got it for me and couldnt understand why I wanted a gardening book without pictures but its a really good read

Zoë said...

One of my favourite's is 'Dear Gardener & Friend' Letters on Life and Gardening between Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd; a great insight into each of them and their friendship.

Very recently aqcuired, and likely to make my dipplable list is Hortus Revisited; A 21st Birthday Anthology, which is a selection of the best essays and articles published in the magazine Hortus, brain child of David Wheeler.

Another, (am I allowed lots?) is The Gardening Companion, ' A Guide to the Art of the Garden' which sets out in her own words, Gertrude Jeykyl's view on colour and form in the garden.

Germaine Greer's anthology of Poems foe Gardeners is another pick up and put down book for a restful 5 in the garden.

I have a few more that sit in a pile in the kitchen, easy to grab enroute outside, but I'll keep them for another day.


Helen said...

Oh I have 'Dear Gardener & Friend' Letters on Life and Gardening between Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd; - I really enjoyed it. A very intersting insight. I hadnt realised that Christopher Lloyd was so critical of the RHS.

VP said...

DFAG was my soothing patio read last summer and 'Cuttings', the best of Christopher Lloyd's columns from The Guardian saw me through the time before my current recommendation.

Ahhh I can feel the relaxation kicking in - Pimms anyone?

emmat said...

I completely agree with Zoe about the Hortus collection. It is just great, and immediately made me (finally) subscribe to the mag, instead of reading it in the library instead of working.

For example, Carol Klein, on "Indispensable Plants" showing that she is not just the tv presenter you most want to rush up and hug, but also a beautiful nature writer.

Elspeth Thompson on planting her spring bulbs ( a topic I've read her talking about quite a lot, but she is such an effective evangelist)

Richard Mabey on "A rash of endemics" and Noel Kingsbury too, on the subject of seeing plants in the wild and how that changes your gardening.

Scent gardening - Stephen Lacey - a really clever piece about how to balance scent and sight - a subject I'd never read anyone do before.

and one of the funniest piece I've ever read about gardening (including a comedy deaf brigadier) with the most beautiful illustrations drawn by John Verney, of New Yorker standard, about opening your garden to the public: "Take Me to Your Hostas."

The Garden Monkey said...

The latest Hortus collection, got something of a cutting review from Frank Ronan in Gardens Illustrated a couple of months back. I think he found it all a bit safe.

I have the 2 previous anthologies By Pen & By Spade [1990] and The Generous Garden [1991], which are, I suspect, out of print, but available on eBay - at a price.