Gardening History

Collection Notes

Gardens contain more than flowers and vegetables; there’s history in that ground.

“Perhaps more than other occupations, gardening lends itself to philosophizing.” So begins “Autumn Thoughts,” by Diana Wells. It’s true, too. What other activity gives you so much time for contemplation and letting your mind wander while your hands are busy creating? And as we dig into the soil, we connect with the gardeners that have come before us, also contemplating the world around them. READ MORE

Bill Dugan


Autumn Thoughts

Perhaps more than other occupations, gardening lends itself to philosophizing. Knitters, I suppose, can make something of dropped stitches; or cooks can conjure shattering associations with a fallen soufflé. But gardeners (particularly garden writers) will contemplate the seasons...  READ MORE


For me, one of the best things about Winter is that I don’t feel guilty about not weeding (as I do for most of the rest of the year).  READ MORE

One Garden at a Time

The root word for “Spring” is springan (Middle English), meaning to “jump up.” It can mean a source of water, or a trap or coil, but for us gardeners it portrays a longed-for burst of life jumping up after the sleep of Winter.  READ MORE

Carpenters and Gardeners

I was talking recently with another grandmother. She had heard that you can raise your children either as if you were a “carpenter” or as if you were a “gardener.” Presumably this meant “according to rules,” or “with gentle nurturing.”  READ MORE

Growing From Seed

Late last Spring there were suddenly potted flowers in bloom for sale everywhere, offering an instant Summer garden. They were very tempting. But I began wondering how they fit in: the birds were only just beginning to nest; the leaves were a tender newborn green.  READ MORE


My father’s garden was beautifully kept, immaculately mowed and weeded—except for one corner that was totally fenced off so neither people or creatures (he had hens running free and several cats) could get in. It was, he told me, “for the fairies.”  READ MORE


Green has always been the color of youth and renewal: “April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go!” wrote Christopher Morley in 1931. For gardeners, green is what we long for after the seemingly endless days of Winter.  READ MORE

A Sprig of Lilac

It’s May, the month of my birth, the heart of what I think of as the season of tender green, before Summer’s heat strips it all away and makes going outside a torture.  READ MORE

Horologium Florae

Are you a morning person or an evening person? I am very much a morning person. I seldom wake after 5 a.m., but by 7 p.m. it’s dull to be around me! My husband was an evening person. He tended to be withdrawn at breakfast, whereas I never wanted to do much after the sun went down.  READ MORE

The Romance of the Rose

I am an unabashed romantic, heart and soul. I find romance in certain locations—England, Italy, and France come to mind—in historical legends, and especially in gardens. And there is one group of flowers that embodies everything a romantic flower should...  READ MORE

Persnickety Pineapples

Some years back I was given a book about how to grow windowsill plants from kitchen scraps. Practically everything that you’re preparing to toss into the compost bin, says my book, can—with a little creativity and care—be turned into brand-new plants…  READ MORE

Emily Dickinson, Gardener

Emily Dickinson published almost no poems in her lifetime. She became more and more reclusive as the years passed, eventually seeing almost no one other than members of her family. Most of us know this about the famous 19th-century New England poet.  READ MORE

The Last Garden in England

One-third historical fiction, one-third romance, and two-thirds stories of women gardeners, The Last Garden in England is such a delightful read that the book truly adds up to more than a whole.  READ MORE

Buried Treasure

Is anybody—other than me, that is—a fan of the BBC series “Dectorists”? The show centers around the adventures of Lance and Andy (Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook) of Britain’s (wholly imaginary) Danebury Metal Detecting Club. The club members, armed with metal detectors, obsessively comb the landscape searching for treasure, which they almost never find.  READ MORE

Gambling Gardening with Tulips

By the time you read this I may have become the happy recipient of $15,000 per week—for life. By now my family and friends will have received generous gifts (say “Thank you,” Pat).  READ MORE

Manure, Sweet Manure

When, aged 40, I had my youngest son, I was considered an “older mother” (nowadays I would have to be another decade along to qualify), and the birth was considered somewhat risky. After it was successfully achieved, no first mother could have been more awed or elated.  READ MORE

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