The Garden Interior
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Now comes this wonderful book by two of our era’s most brilliant and accomplished gardeners. Beth Chatto built up the now celebrated Beth Chatto Gardens almost from nothing, just a wildly overgrown apple orchard at Elmstead Market in Essex. She holds the prestigious Victoria Medal of Honour from the Royal Horticultural Society (as does Lloyd) and received an OBE in 2002. She is one of the great stars of horticulture and has been featured in countless books and broadcasts, having written several books herself. Christopher Lloyd (invariably “Christo” to all who knew him) inherited and gardened at the world-famous home of Great Dixter in East Sussex. He was awarded the OBE in 2000. Lloyd was famous for his daring plant and color combinations; pairings that would seem insane to a less subtle gardener he made successful because of his superb plantsmanship and his great skill and daring. Photos of the gardens at Great Dixter are pored over by gardeners around the world, with admiration and envy, for their great originality.
Structurally, the book consists of about 300 pages of the familiar and never boring letters between these two old friends and master gardeners, custodians of two of England’s – and the world’s – greatest, most innovative and consistently interesting gardens. The letters cover the years 1996 and 1997, and this book is a new edition of the original one that was published in 1998. Like many garden books, and the gardening year itself, this book begins in January, with the correspondents looking closely into their gardens for signs of life and color: for spring, in a word. It is an intimate, wide-ranging portrait of two celebrated experts at the height of their craft and their letters are shot through with gardening insights and advice, gossip about other great gardeners, strong prejudices for and against plants of various kinds, grumbles about the weather and their nagging health issues, and so on.
Their affection, commitment, intelligence and endurance shine winningly through on every page. The inside covers feature plans of both of the famous gardens, his in the front and hers in the back, and two sections of a scant eight pages of color photos each make you wish for more, but both gardens have been extensively photographed for print and broadcast, and the verbal pictures included here are themselves extremely vivid and beautiful. A word of advice: keep Google Images or Wikipedia on hand while reading this book. Lloyd and Chatto are such immensely experienced plantsmen that they throw around plant names by the hundreds, and many are not going to be familiar to even very serious gardeners. It is a wonderful learning opportunity and you get so much more out of the discussion if you can see the qualities of the plants they are discussing.
Here are just a few highlights of the lively exchanges:
• A spat between the two over the use of chemicals in the garden – she is a nearly absolute prohibitionist, he is not.
• He visits gardening legend Rosemary Verey and she takes him to the Prince of Wales’ world-famous garden at Highgrove.
• About to receive an honorary doctorate from an English university, he has a new suit made for himself, near the end of his life, and jokingly calls it “my terminal suit”.
• Both echo every gardener’s lament that life is too short to learn the complicated craft of gardening: “We say ourselves that one lifetime is not half enough.”
• Lloyd’s interesting criticisms of Sissinghurst, having visited the world-famous garden after a long absence.
• Lovely and lively bird-watching and butterfly spotting, and many lively visits to the opera at Glyndbourne.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
And the food! These are gardeners who like to grow their own food and eat it with consummate relish. They are constantly talking about all the fresh vegetables they picked and how they prepared it for the table or the freezer, and how delicious it all was. Both write with an appealing zest for life and living, things that every gardener shares but in ways that few gardeners can match for experience and zeal. Remember how prominent writers of a generation or more ago (rarely now) would always publish their extensive correspondence, usually posthumously? Well, this is like that, only from the gardening point of view, and only the two of them are involved. Their letters are at turns opinionated, intelligent, funny, crotchety, gossipy, wistful and informative; but they are always interesting. This book provides a rare and delightful insight into two wonderful and complex personalities, and delivers in the end an irresistible compendium of their views on gardening and life.