My last post on November gloom was more depressing than I intended but the garden is still rather uninspiring today, apart from the birds. The bird feeders are covered in sparrows and tits, with the occasional fat pigeon clumping around underneath, trying to catch the bits that fall out. I’ve added chilli powder to the bird food but suspect it hasn’t kept the squirrels away. So I’ll stick with the chilli powder for the moment.
Away from the garden itself I thought I’d have a look at some of the quirky garden books on my bookshelf.
The first is New Container Style by Adam Caplin (Ryland Peters and Small 2001). This book cheers me every time I open it. Caplin’s approach to container gardening is to grow anything and everything in any mad container he can find, from empty food cans to genuine junk. I get most irritated by the lifestyle gardening shops and books that encourage you to buy ‘new’ junk. Real junk is the only way. New Container Style encourages you to use almost anything that you might find lying around and the photographs by Francesca Yorke make it all look stunning. Which is the problem with gardening books and magazines: the photographs never show the sad plants on a gloomy November day, or parched with thirst in the middle of summer. Here are some of my gloomy November pots.
My least successful effort was the old wicker baby basket that I filled with strawberry plants. I had visions of strawberries dripping romantically through the basket work but the plants were destroyed by vine weevils and never produced any fruit. Adam Caplin says that wicker baskets ‘are flamboyant and can produce an entertaining effect in a more eclectic garden’. My basket has now started disintegrating and doesn’t look at all flamboyant or eclectic. Maybe in the spring I’ll think of something to jazz it up.
My other book today is Plant Kingdoms: the photographs of Charles Jones by Sean Sexton and Robert Flynn Johnson (Thames and Hudson, 1998). This wonderful book contains black and white images of vegetables from the late 19th and early 20th century, taken by Charles Jones, a gardener and enthusiastic early photographer. His vegetables are stunning. I found another blogger, the gentle author, who has written about him and shares his photos if you want to see what I mean.
My senior assistant gardener gave me this book for a significant birthday a few years ago. I was overjoyed but some of the relatives who had gathered for the cake and candles were visibly unimpressed. If you’re stuck for Christmas presents for your garden loving friends and families, you might be able to pick up second hand copies of these. But best avoid the people who don’t appreciate photographs of cabbages or flowers stuck in old tin cans.