The Bad-Tempered Gardener — GardenRant

From the GardenRant Archives This post from 2011 seems to foreshadow Anne Wareham joining GardenRant this year. In it, Amy described Anne “one of us.  She is opinionated, ill-tempered, witty, and slightly crazy.” There’s a lot of hand-wringing going on in the publishing world right now.  The poor economy, the closure of many fine independent…

The Bad-Tempered Gardener — GardenRant

I love the title of this book so much! I haven’t bought any new gardening books in ages, because I have so, so many, and I’m trying to restrain myself. But this one is really calling to me …

Magnolia x soulangeana — Susan Rushton

In the world of home decor, magnolia is a best-selling colour that outlasts every new craze because it is so easy to live with, but its biggest fan would not call it exciting. On the inside of the loose, cup shaped flowers held on a magnolia tree, the sheeny colour has all the allure you could […]

Magnolia x soulangeana — Susan Rushton

Photographer Susan Rushton captures beautifully one of my very favorite trees, the Magnolia x soulangeana, sometimes called the “saucer magnolia” or “pink magnolia”. It is highly fragrant, as she notes. My college had an open plaza where one entire side was planted with them, and they had grown to an impressive size. When they were in bloom, you could walk through the plaza (or sit there) and receive gusts of their floral perfume.

We have several that grow in our neighborhood and they are spectacular. I’ve never been able to find a created fragrance that captures what they smell like in real life. But Susan’s photos absolutely capture what they look like. I can’t wait for them to bloom in my neighborhood every spring!

“Dr. Biden’s Garden” and Inaugural Dress – Looks like she’s a Garden-Lover! — GardenRant

Post-election, I wrote “First Lady Jill Biden and the White House Gardens,” listing everything my research unearthed about Dr. Biden as a gardener or garden-lover, and speculating on whether she would change the White House gardens and grounds in some way. Dr. Biden’s Garden Along with some commenters expressing shock and anger that on November…

“Dr. Biden’s Garden” and Inaugural Dress – Looks like she’s a Garden-Lover! — GardenRant

Interview with Imogen Russon Taylor, founder and owner of Kingdom Scotland — The Black Narcissus

– Guest post by Rose Strang. Firstly, thanks Neil for hosting this interview on your excellent blog! Let me introduce myself – I’m an artist by profession and an occasional perfume reviewer for L.L.M. Edinburgh. Last month I interviewed Imogen Russon Taylor, owner and founder of Scotland’s first perfume house, Kingdom Scotland. Since L.L.M. isn’t […]

Interview with Imogen Russon Taylor, founder and owner of Kingdom Scotland — The Black Narcissus

From one of my favorite blogs, The Black Narcissus! This fascinating interview unites many of my ongoing interests: plants, botany, history, fragrance, and even a favorite country, Scotland. Enjoy!

P.S. The interview was done by artist Rose Strang, whose gorgeous paintings you may see here: Rose Strang Artworks.

“The Invisible Garden of Scent”

Noted gardener and garden writer Ken Druse has published a delightful piece in The New York Times this week on incorporating scent and fragrance into one’s garden. It follows the publication of his latest book, ““The Scentual Garden: Exploring the World of Botanical Fragrance,” which won the top honor of the American Horticultural Society for writing, in March. He calls the scent dimension of horticulture the “invisible garden” — not seen, but sensed as a key element of any garden’s appeal and design.

My garden holds many of the plants he mentions; right now, the most fragrant ones in bloom are the roses and gardenias. I also grow rosemary, mint, and basil — all very aromatic, and useful in the kitchen.

I have so many gardening books that I haven’t bought a new one in years, but I may have to make an exception for this one, given how much I love both gardening and fragrance!

Have you read it? Plan to read it? What are your favorite fragrant flowers, and which do you grow at home?

image_f54ded76-5dca-4c67-aa20-67c2306923f0.img_0519

Il Faut Cultiver Notre Jardin

I haven’t posted here in too long — I spent the month of May posting daily on my other blog, “Serenity Now”, in a “Roses de Mai Marathon” of rose-centered fragrances. It was great fun, and it took my mind off the ongoing pandemic, social isolation, etc. I am privileged to be able to work from home, so my employment has not been interrupted; and my family are all safe and well, which is such a blessing.

The events of the last ten days here in America have been astounding, and it is taking me a while to process them. Meanwhile, we have had a beautiful spring; my own roses have been spectacular (and are now starting a second flush of bloom), and I’ve planted what I call my “virus victory vegetable garden”, which is flourishing. We’ve already harvested our first purple cauliflower, which got much bigger than the photo below, and it was delicious!

The peace and beauty of my city garden, and the weather, contrast so much with the conflict just outside my neighborhood. It is quite jarring, and my husband and I comment on that dissonance often on our regular walks. I’ve been thinking a lot about Voltaire’s famous ending phrase from his novel Candide, “Il faut cultiver notre jardin.” What does it mean?

Literally, in English, it means “We must cultivate our garden.” Sometimes that is taken to mean that it is useless to try to understand or counter the wider world’s troubles, and that all one can do is retreat to one’s own garden.

Tempting as that is, for an introverted gardener like myself, I don’t think that’s it. Or maybe, I prefer to think that’s not it. Adam Gopnik wrote in “The New Yorker” magazine, some years ago, in response to a translator who translated it as “We need to work our fields” (which implies something very different):

By “garden” Voltaire meant a garden, not a field—not the land and task to which we are chained by nature but the better place we build by love. The force of that last great injunction, “We must cultivate our garden,” is that our responsibility is local, and concentrated on immediate action.

Whether or not that is what Voltaire intended over 250 years ago, that resonates with me. So I will cultivate both roses and vegetables in my actual garden, and I will do my best to fulfill my immediate and local responsibilities to advance justice and peace, and build a better place by love. Right here, right now, where I live. After all, bees love flowers, but they are also symbols of peaceful, industrious activity, and community.

If you’ve read this far, I hope you and your family, and your garden, are staying safe and well.