The second collection of the irrepressible and irresistible Mitchell’s work. Belongs in every literate gardener’s library!
91 essays. Paperback.
The life so short, the craft so long to learn. This was said about literature, but it really fits gardening better. Poetry, after all, is learned extremely early as a rule, if it is learned at all, but gardening is the province of crocks past the age of 28.
Why does it take so long to learn? Partly because books contain endless errors, and partly because the craft is so close to the real world. A poet could write the same thing, I would think, in Seville or Bald Knob, Arkansas, but a gardener must deal with weather, with soil, with sun that varies madly.
It takes no time to fall helpless prey to the delights of gardening, and nobody should be put off by thinking it is difficult or takes forever. Even oaks from acorns grow with astounding speed. Yet it is true that you can spend most of your life gardening before it finally dawns on you what you think is most worth growing. And the rest of your life (as Gertrude Jekyll once observed) puzzling how best to grow it.
I think the best summation of the gardener’s lot was spoken by a fellow in London who, against all odds, wound up with a beautiful garden out in the country. “This garden,” he used to say, “was made by doing impractical things that we could not afford at the wrong time of year.”