That could have been the title of my autobiography but instead it’s the title of Eleanor Perenyi’s book of assorted alphebetized essays on gardening and this months selection for the Garden Blogger’s Book Club (graciously hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens). A slightly used copy of Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden has been in my bedside stack mostly unread for months. When I discovered recently that it was this months book I thought “oh well, too bad I didn’t read it sooner”. But I opened it up again anyway and realized that it’s really not meant to be read cover to cover in a sitting. Rather, pick a chapter, any chapter! Her topics range from “Blues” to “Tools” to “Magic” to “Potatoes” to “Partly Cloudy” and seem almost like blog posts to me. Ms. Perenyi says in the forward “a writer who gardens is sooner or later going to write a book about the subject – I take that as inevitable”. It’s true whether you’re a writer who gardens or a gardener who writes – we are an opinionated bunch and we love to share! She’d fit right in the blogging community. She makes me chuckle and bristle by turns just like some of the writers on, say, Garden Rant! And I have the added benefit of having a copy underlined by a previous reader – it’s almost like the book has a comments box. In the “Lilies” chapter, this line was underscored: “I order lilies only every other year and spend, each time, about $100. I waste twice that on cigarettes.” Kindred spirits, clearly! Prices of lilies and cigarettes notwithstanding, this book could have been written yesterday or tomorrow. Ms. Perenyi sounds like a lot of us when she talks about organic gardening methods: “…I can now either beg or steal the bags of leaves unwisely set out for collection by the inorganic neighbors and add them to our store.” And what she writes about “old fashioned and solidly made garden [tools]” that she bought in “a sort of hardware heaven” that went out of business and was “replaced by a store called Unisex, whose speciality was blue jeans” is -ugh!- so frustratingly true.
One thing that seems to me to have changed since 1981 is that I don’t believe as she did that “gardens like mine, which go by the unpleasing name of ‘labor intensive’, are on their way out”. I think that if gardening was truly passe then, it’s back in vogue now. Proof is in on the internet by way of hundreds of garden blogs, in well loved public gardens like Blithewold and the reprinting of Eleanor Perenyi’s “classic” Green Thoughts. (I guess I’ll need a different title for my book…)