Friday, January 30, 2009

A Gentle Plea for Chaos by Mirabel Osler

"There is no other writer with the same approach to gardening," says eminent gardening author Rosemary Verey of Mirabel Osler. "Like no other writer, Mirabel Osler captures the pure enchantment of gardening," chimes in Penelope Hobhouse. Readers and gardeners the world over will attest to Osler's unmatched ability to evoke the passions and obsessions of gardeners at all levels. Using words rather than pictures, she expresses what is most essential and enduring.

Based on Osler's experience with the garden she and her husband created in Shropshire, a mecca for horticulturists, A Gentle Plea for Chaos is a stirring appeal for gardens with lives of their own. There is no right or wrong way to create a garden, writes Osler, and there are no absolutes. As we change and grow, so too do our creations. The joy of gardening does not reside in planting beyond our capabilities or in enslaving ourselves to some unreachable ideal, but in having our gardens celebrate and reflect the cycles of nature and the rhythms of our lives. In controlled disorder lies the essence and beauty of the English garden, a model for gardens everywhere.

"Why garden?" asks Osler as the beginning of this book. Her delightful and inspiring reply brims with wise counsel, warmth, and humor.

The book contained so many Latin names for plants it was overwhelming! There seemed to be at least one per sentence, and sometimes there were great lists of them. It left me feeling that I should either learn Latin, or give up on reading sophisticated treatises on gardening! Maybe I should stick with strictly vegetable gardening books it the future!

While reading the book it was disconcerting to discover that so many of the plant explorers and discoverers died young - and that was young even for their time! It really makes you think about how far medicine has come in the last century or so. It amazes and saddens me that these brave men (and sometimes women) who put so much into something they loved were eventually killed by diseases contracted while doing that very thing.

This one gets seven stars. With all the Latin it was a bit tedious and distracting at times, but you came away from the book feeling contented and relaxed. It was certainly a very good garden "fix" for a snowy winter day.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆


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