Saturday, February 16, 2008

Onward and Upward

I received my copy of Katharine S. White's Onward and Upward in the Garden yesterday. I am enjoying it immensely. As I simultaneously read Eleanor Perenyi's Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden, I am struck by the strong voices of these women. Gardening never struck me as an opinionated arena until now.

I have a strong opinion about organic gardening. I also have strong opinions about clearcutting and massive overly green lawns. I am particularly annoyed when my neighbors water the road in the middle of a drought, especially on the one day of the month when it is raining...perhaps I do have strong opinions. And maybe now I am just finding my voice to express them. (With my apologies for any comparison you are making of me to Hillary Clinton...perhaps finding one's voice is in vogue at the moment, but I didn't think about Mrs. Clinton until after I wrote that sentence!)

It would do me good to follow the examples of Perenyi and White. Perenyi's book contains short essays about everything garden related. She gives historical information about gardening, provides practical information about growing, and relates advice that has to do with her own personal gardening experiences. She is blunt, funny, and informative.

White's book reviews garden catalogs. As an editor for the New Yorker, she wrote her annual Onward and Upward column to impart information about the products available for the upcoming growing season. Evaluating catalogs, White also analyzed the writing within them and the service of each company. She relates her own gardening experiences and discusses her preferred plants and planting methods. (Her writing is so personal that I am drawn to her. I feel almost as if her garden is mine. It helps that she seems to favor the traditional plants that I too favor and we are both New Englanders and writers.) This book is a compilation of her columns and reflects a remarkable woman.

Once again I am thinking about the camaradarie among gardeners. If you are a lone gardener, make an effort to reach out to others who share your passion or read about others who throughout time have been drawn to this remarkable past time. Realizing that your passion is shared gives you the courage to express yourself in new and profound ways. What you have to say is important. Your little garden is important. Your gardening methods and creations are unique and worth sharing. Our opinions help others learn, as their opinions help us.


Kate Zeigler said...

Hi I'm Sue Whittaker's little sister. Come see my blog at We have a lot in common.

Kate Zeigler said...

oH, THEN I realized you already saw my site..sheesh. Thank you for the great comment. I'm adding more photography later, I just bought a "hot-shot" Nikon to keep up with my photoclub friends. I love your photography! stunning! just beautiful! I love my job, it's tricky keeping the contractors in line. I could write a book on that!
I get to play with some flowers at the Harrisburg, PA flower show set up next week. I'll post pictures on my blog for sure. keep in touch