It is cold today. No, not just cold, Siberia cold .Temperatures plummeted into single digits with below zero wind chills and when you step outside it feels like everything around you , including your own fingers and toes , is going to crack and shatter . Even the intrepid corgis do not want to be outside, and that my friend is very very rare.
Yesterday I ventured out to fill the bird feeders, and promptly ventured right back in to assess what I could accomplish indoors where there is heat and no discernible wind. I have been knitting and knitting for Christmas gift giving. I have 5 projects currently cast on the needles as nothing says winter to me like creating lovely warm clothing for lovely cold people, but frankly my shoulders hurt from the repetitive motion and I am a little bored. That means it is time to hit the books and dream, learn, and drool (with a little studying thrown in there as well) about all things plant.
For christmas Wil bought me some very useful books. First off he got me The PHOTOgrahic Garden by Mathew Benson. The aim here is to learn how to better capture my garden through pictures even though I am often faced with difficult lighting ( full blazing sun) and encumbered by unfamiliarity with my camera functions. This book , accompanied by the most useful Nikon 5100 instructional tome by Rob Sylan, has been sitting next to the couch and in moments of free time I have been scouring them for technological info and practicing using my camera settings . Each manual gives little assignments at the end of each lesson that are most helpful, and neither is so technical that my eyes glaze over when I am reading them.( That is my highest form of literary praise )
Only time and/ or you , will tell if my photography improves or not.
Wil also bought me some eye candy books, which are awesome diversions in this weather. Bringing Nature Home was a book I had checked out of the library and loved so much I requested it on my amazon.com wish list. The premise of this stunning volume is that you can enhance your living space indoors year round with plant material from your backyard, which is one I firmly believe in and practice . The authors are lifestyle photographer Ngoc Minh Ngo and floral arranger Nicoltte Owen , and the arrangements they make and photograph take you on a journey through the seasons in the most delightful manner. Although many designs are as simple as artfully arranged branches, each summons you to a particular time and place in the garden and gives you clues how to capture those fleeting moments in a vase indoors. My favorite is an arrangement of blackberry branches and dahlias of wonderful complementary hues. Simple, beautiful, annd evvocative of time and place. In other words, perfect. This book is a joy to read and look at from begining to end .
The other eye candy book, In the Garden by Stacy Bass , I have yet to read, but one glance at the full- page size images taken at 18 private New England gardens, and I know I will devour this cover to cover .
On my nighstand for the past few months has been Dream Gardens of England and each night before bed I have been reading about and viewing a few of the 100 gardens featured in this beautiful book ( I am up to 76 Saling Hall in case you were interested ).
Talk about dreaming ! If only I had an old castle/stone walls/200 year old beech hedges/moats/6 hectares of land that has been in the family for 400 years, boy would I be happy! But that is the point of the book for me, to dream , to wish , to covet, and maybe recreate bits and pieces on a much much smaller and less endowed estate. When I get to 100 I will be sad but…
for my birthday I was ever so grateful to recieve this gem, Gardenalia and it is sitting under Dream Gardens waiting take its place.The term gardenalia refers to all the non-plant material we adorn our gardens with ( statuary, furniture, containers , knick knacks and the like) , and this book focuses on those with a vintage flair, which is right up my alley. Those of you who have been here ( or seen photos) know full well I am a junker, flea market hound, scrounger and re-purpose-er. I love antique stores, Brimfield , and haunt second hand stores looking for treasure which I display and constantly change up in my indoor and outdoor spaces. This book has my name all over it ( well I wish it did, I need to get going on that ).
On the studying side of my winter reading, these books on Botanical Latin top the list. I have to give a talk on the subject in February, but lecture aside, the topic fascinates me. Based on both Latin and Greek, and the binomial nomenclature system of Sweedish Naturalist Carl Linneaus , then seasoned with” latinized” names of patrons and botanists, Botanical Latin has such an interesting evolution. Full of science, history, and peppered with lots humor not only from some of the word derivations *, but from people try to pronounce what is now a dead and non-spoken language that has more exceptions than rules, studying it is not the drudgery one would assume.
I love Gardener’s Latin by Bill Neal for all the interesting facts and fables he includes, and Harrisons Latin for Gardeners is a booklovers delight with its textured cover, thick paper ,gorgeous illustrations and ribbon bookmark as well as its informative plant histories and compilation terms and names. The Hamlyn Guide to Plant Names in indispensible for the sheer volume of names , both descriptive and actual ,with the added benefit of common name cross referencing .
After I finish all these, I have a library list as long as my arm and I am hoping to catch up on some of the non-gardening titles I have on it and maybe even squish in a little fiction ( Christopher Moore’s new book and the latest in Bernard Cornwell’s saxon saga are waiting )
Now I need to know ….what is on your bookshelf?
*like the latinized word isabellinus meaning dirty yellow or tawny , that comes from the scandalous story of the Archduchess Isabella of Spain who vowed not to change or wash her underwear until her father Philip II won the seige of Ostend which went on for three years. Tee-hee…potty humor…now go tell your garden club about your newest plant aquisition eremurus isabellinus ‘Cleopatra’ with a straight face lol
** plant porn: a snapdragon I picked from the garden right before the christmas snow is blooming now ( admit your jealousy and move on)
and my amaryllis is now sportng 4 gorgeous flowers with several more in bud!
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