Idyll Book Club-The Invisible Garden

dodgerdudetteNovember 1, 2006

Welcome everyone...

Our book will be "The Invisible Garden" by Dorothy Sucher.This book is available both new and used from Amazon if you cannot find it locally.

I would like to start our discussion on Nov 13th. That gives everyone (I hope) ample time to aquire the book. Lets read to page 42 , which in my edition is the prologue and the first three chapters.I don't know how fast some of you read-this may be a small bite to some and a big bite to others! Once we get into it we can tweak the number of pages we read.Also we are embarking on the holiday season and I know people get busy and distracted.If it takes a month to read this book so be it !

I look forward to an interesting and enjoyable dialogue..

Kathy in the Napa Valley

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Well, I'd best "get crackin'" on getting a copy.

I've never done a book club/group thing, so I'll be following your lead...

unless (of course) the book sucks...


    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 10:41PM
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deanneart(z5Southern NH)

Ordered it last night from Amazon. Looking forward to reading with my Idyll friends.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 7:02AM
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Thanks Kathy, this will be fun. I've just put a hold on the copy at our local library - always a good resource.

Happy reading


    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 8:21AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

After DH ordered a copy for me last night, he showed me the Amazon photo of the book and I realized I've read the book before! How funny! All I remember is that the chapters are fairly short and distinct, that overall, I liked the book! I'm sure I'll enjoy it a second time around, especially hearing how others feel about it.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 8:35AM
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Mine is on order from Amazon also...

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 9:04AM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

I think I may have read that book many years ago. ( It is an old one, isn't it? ) I used to check out every garden related book in our local library. I don't indulge in reading books anymore. It gets me too involved, and I think maybe it bothers DH. He tends to find that is the time to talk to me...:-(
After he goes to bed,I am too tired to read.
( Chelone, that is another 'thing' I gave up.)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 9:09AM
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taryn(S Ontario Z6B)

$1.79 for a brand new copy of the 2001 ed. on Ebay (gotta love it!) Hope it gets here by the 13th...

Taryn :)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 9:15AM
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I'm planning on a trip out to buy my book this afternoon. If Borders doesn't have it I'll be ordering tonight. This will be fun.

Marian, gets you too involved? That's what I love about reading. Through reading I can go places in my mind I'd never experience otherwise and lose myself in a story. Reading's such a great escape from everyday life. You should give this book club a try! I know you'd have interesting insights to share in our discussions. Just tell Nolon SHHHHHHHH! or go into another room and read while he's involved in a television show.

Thanks Kathy!


    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 10:40AM
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I've ordered from Amazon too.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 11:28AM
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Thanks everyone for your participation !
Chelone ,you rock.If this book isn'nt sucky enough for you, by God we'll find one that is for next time !
Marian, my late husband was always a little jealous of my reading too- but we had a compromise I think- I always spent baseball season watching games with him in the evening, but in winter I moved to another room with the stereo system and my books.During the evening we'd visit each other-He'd wander in to the reading room to chat for a few minutes (during commercials I guess !) and I'd stop in the TV room to say hi.
Taryn, Nice find ! mine was used too, but I think it was 5 bucks.US bucks though so I'm sure that diff in Canadian. We'll give you an extension if you don't get yours on time ! There will be no "F"'s or demerits at Idylls Lit 101 ..
Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 10:51PM
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This sounds like an interesting thing for you all to question: Will they all be garden or garden related?

Avid reader, gld

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 7:32AM
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chloehoover(z6b VA)

Well, I've never done a cyber book group - this should be really interesting no matter what the book! Really looking forward to this "experiement" --

And I second Eden's concept of reading - it's all about escape to worlds we might never get to otherwise, real or imagined!! One of the very best vices in life to indulge in.


    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 8:53AM
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wendy2(zone 6 MA)

Hi all, ordered my book as well. Looking forward to this! I read a lot, but really don't have anyone to discuss the books with a lot of the time. Reading is a great escape - I read mostly ficton, and garden books. I usually read for at least a 1/2 hour before bed, in bed in my PJ's. I often read for longer, especially during Hockey and Football season! There is just too much sports on TV right now. At least NASCAR will finish up in a few weeks.


    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 9:23AM
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I picked up my copy while out running errands this afternoon. Anxious to get it started...


    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 2:03PM
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taryn(S Ontario Z6B)

LOL Kathy! "There will be no "F"'s or demerits at Idylls Lit 101" Hopefully it will get here next week some time.

The copy I bought on Ebay is actually brand new! $1.79 + $4.50 to mail to Canada, $3.50 within the USA. She has 5 copies of this book (all new) still listed if anyone else is interested, but said she has 14 copies in all. See link below. Hope gld and others will join in. Thanks for getting the ball rolling Kathy!


Here is a link that might be useful: The Invisible Garden NEW $5.79 incl s&h

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 2:48PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Just did a Google and found out that the book you are discussing is a 1999 book! I wish someone would have been kind enough to inform me of that! I'm tired of looking like a dork!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 4:16PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Hey, no one looks like a dork here! Besides, we both said we thought we'd read it before, right? So, I remember I enjoyed several chapters in particular and expect to enjoy them again. Hope it arrives soon. Nothing like reading and knitting away the winter.
See you later!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 4:44PM
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Hi everyone

Welcome gld - when it comes to reading and discussing books the more the merrier.

Chelone - hope you don't give up on the book too soon even if its not to your taste. In my book group some of our richest discussions come from differing opinions about a book. We all come to books with different expectations, life experiences and reactions to what has been written. Sharing insights and seeing things from another's point of view can be fascinating. This only works if the group feels secure enough to agree its OK to disagree and no one's feeling get hurt. I believe this is true - what do you all think?

Reading is one of my great loves in life. I've read every day since I was 5 years old and always have a stack of books at the ready. I do most of my reading in bed, either before falling asleep or if I wake in the night. Since hitting 40 I rarely sleep through the night but enjoy many noctural hours with a good book. I have a very handy little book light to keep from waking DH.

I believe teaching children to enjoy reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child. I loved reading to Annie and David when they were little (even babies) and it gives me great joy to see them enjoying books as they've become older. Both head to bed with a book, and I've often found them reading under the covers as much a couple of hours after bedtime. David is in the middle of one of the 600 page Harry Potters and tells me he looks forward to getting into bed every night just to read.

Kathy - thanks again for getting this off the ground. I think it will be something to look forward to especially with winter nights drawing in. I hope we can all make this a positive place to enjoy books together.


    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 5:58PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Mary, I am with you on the reading. My mother read to the 5 of us, by the light of a kerosene lamp. I read to Tim as soon as he was old enough to listen. Now it is my granddaughters that have been read to from infancy.I believe it has benefited us all with our education.Our GDs all excell in school.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 6:21PM
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Marian - isn't it wonderful to have such happy memories of reading? I believe educating ourselves through reading can continue well into old age - I don't think I'll ever feel I've learnt enough. I hope this book will be a nice oportunity for you to begin enjoying books again. Its great to hear you sounding so upbeat about something!


    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 7:50PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Ah yes, but I can learn so very much more from the computer! It would take a mutitude of books to find this much information. And it IS a form of reading also.

Sorry I was so testy with my "dork" remark. :-(

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 7:54PM
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Mary, thanks for the most timely reminder. Mum was a librarian and reading was part of life in our home. I tend to read things within a few limited genres, indulging my own taste and "bagging" things that don't draw me on. I've never participated in a book group before and you're quite right... a GROUP might just tweak a waning interest by asking why a book isn't jazzing me.

Thanks for the "dope slap". ;)

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 8:28PM
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gld, please feel free to join us! This "book club" was just an idea I had to occupy us for the winter when we can't get out and garden much. If we enjoy reading the first book I will suggest a second,and so on.I think they will be gardening related but could include fiction if it has garden themes.
Kathy in the Napa Valley

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 8:48PM
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Mary, I'm right there with you, reading is second only to gardening for me and in winter it is first. I pile them all up and when it gets dark and cold I start plowing through them. I do a book a week in winter. I read fiction and non.
Right now I am starting "The Master" which is a fictionalized work about Henry James.
I think we gardeners have a different perspective sometimes - a life view that we share,a perspective that looks at the natural world first,and a deep passion for the land we are on whether it is 5 acres,a half acre,or a tiny suburban lot..

Kathy in the Napa Valley

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 9:19PM
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I splurged and got a new copy from Amazon. Have a feeling this will be a re-reader for years! Just finished a second Marie Antoinette biography so this will be a refreshing change.

I've never done an internet book club, either, but am looking forward to this. Told my Mom (avid book club member in about 20 places) about this and she said "I wonder if anyone will be able to find a copy after you guys start this?" Are we the next Oprah???? LOL


    Bookmark   November 4, 2006 at 10:15AM
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Thanks for the welcome. I read all the time; have tons of gardening books, but for some reason, have never thought the collections of garden essays would interest me. This might be a good thing for me to try.

Amazon has them used so may just order one. I got so involved looking for old garden books by Louise Beebe Wilder and others, wondering about First Editions vs. first printings, for collecting or just a soft cover to read, that I lost direction in finding this book! That seems to happen to me a lot on the internet...........

    Bookmark   November 5, 2006 at 7:38AM
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deanneart(z5Southern NH)

Well, well, well, I decided this AM to start reading, to 'plow' through something I didn't think I'd enjoy. Hmmmm... I had to stop myself at page 81 because I have to get to the gym and check in here.

Thanks for choosing this book it is a DELIGHT! I'll stop 'talking' for now since we aren't supposed to begin discussions until the 13th. LOL

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 8:26AM
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I'm still waiting for mine to arrive (Amazon). Thanks for the little tantalizing teaser Deanne! :o)


    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 8:37AM
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veronicastrum(z5 IL)

I'm another avid reader (confession time - I haven't "idylled" much at home because I've been curled up with too many books) and I ordered the book from Amazon just now. They say that I will have it on Friday, so I should have time to read it this weekend.

Amazon came up with their "suggestions" for suckers just like me. They suggested a book called "The Writer in the Garden" which looked intriguing so I threw that on my order as well - after all, I have money to burn you know! :o

But I should tell you that I did check the library first, and none of the libraries in our network have the book in their collection.

I'm looking forward to this!


    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 10:10AM
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V, boy have I been suckered in by the suggestions too ! However, often they are books I already own. You are not alone in your suckerdom ..
Deanne , you should have taken it with you to the DMV, you probably could have finished the whole thing while you were in line LOL !

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 10:03PM
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I checked with my library and they didn't have it, so I ordered it from Amazon, along with two others she has written. All very inexpensive, so I figured, what the hey? I got all three for around $10 including shipping. Invisible Garden came yesterday. I am loving this.. and it is a book I would never have discovered without this group! Kathy... great pick! I'll say no more:)


    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 2:39PM
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chloehoover(z6b VA)

O, good - Drema - you can tell us all about her "Dead Men Dont Marry" - heehee - I was charmed to see she's a mystery writer (confession - apparently from my neck of the woods but I don't recognize the name; but since I love her prose & construct so far I better try the mysteries too -- you can tell me about them!).


    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 5:05PM
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taryn(S Ontario Z6B)

My book arrived yesterday! One week from the US, positive feedback has been left, and tonight I started reading the prologue over supper. First three chapters flew by, what a charming read! It will be tough to 'hold off' on carrying on further, but I shall try to restrain myself...

GREAT choice Kathy!


    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 9:32PM
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Mine still hasn't arrived...... :o(

    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 10:57PM
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Jerri_OKC(z7 Ok)

An Idyll Book Club? This is great! I wonder if I can keep up with you all? I will be taking 2 dogs to an adoption outreach today. Maybe I will stop by the bookstore on the way home.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 6:00AM
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My copy arrived yesterday and it was a great surprise to see a Mary Azarian woodcut on the cover of this edition. Hadn't seen her work "out there" in awhile and it is a indication of good things to come. Haven't started reading yet, but should be quick enough to finish the assignment by 11/13.

Having never done this before, what happens then?


    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 9:57AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Mine, mailed on the 2nd, has still not arrived. Bah Humbug.
Mary Azarian woodcuts are a delight Martie, I agree.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 10:57AM
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Mine was ordered on the 30th of October and suppose to be mailed on/by the 1st of November. Allowing up to 21 business days for media mail....I'll be beginning the book when you guys are done. ;o) LOL


    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 3:39PM
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Hi Idylls

The library came through with the inter-library loan of my copy. I've dipped in already and love it. Hope the ordered books show soon.

Michelle - book discussions can take many, many forms so it will be interesting to see how this develops. With my outside book group one person is assigned to lead/facilitate each discussion. We all have different styles so things vary from month to month. Sometimes the leader will ask prepared questions or share autobiographical information and interviews with the author. Once we were able to have an author call into our meeting and we talked via speaker phone for an hour. Other times we are much more informal and just gab about what we liked/ disliked about a book and how it relates to our own experiences. Meeting in person we sometimes relate our snacks to the book inself - Indian delicacies for an Indian author, trail-mix for Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" and Jamaican appetizers for Andrea Levy's "Small Island". A glass of wine never goes amiss either, but starting on a Monday I'll probably skip that.

Discussing a gardening book is a first for me too, as is doing so on-line. However it unfolds I think it will be fun.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2006 at 11:32AM
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Welcome to everyone I hope all who wanted to participate were able to acquire the book . If you are still awaiting it feel free to join in at any point.

Quoting from the prologue on becoming a gardener .."Most of us do other kinds of work as well, work we think of a more "real," but gardens serve as our common denominator; when we meet , it is of nurserymen and perennials and manure and stone that we most often speak." How many of us can relate to this ?

A couple of points for discussion to start us off.. The stream was the reason Dorothy bought the property in Vermont. Did you feel disappointed that she abandoned her project to create a garden on itÂs banks ? Or was she merely acknowledging the realities of trying to manipulate nature ?

Adele seems like the classic "ageing hippie" that is endemic to certain pockets in Northern California. I think that she will have a major influence on Dorothys transformation into a gardener. Do you have someone who influenced you , and to whom you owe your passion for gardens ?

Have any of you read "Places in the World a Woman Could Walk ?" This could be a huge topic, and maybe best for another day, but we are American/Canadian women who are successful, have freedom of speech and expression, have property rights and the right to vote, but ultimately are we victims of fear ?

Dorothy set aside her own fear to enter the forest. What are your own experiences with the woods ?

If you found other points you would like to discuss please share them !

Kathy in the Napa Valley

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 12:12AM
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deanneart(z5Southern NH)

Thanks for getting this started Kathy, the very first thing Id like to say about this book is that I felt that I was part of it and totally immersed, perhaps completely understood the mind set of the author from the second paragraph of the book. I think partly its because what she speaks of with the VT garden season is exactly what I deal with here in Southern NH. Just how short the season is here, how "spring comes in a surge", the black flies, the endless hours of work to get ready for the brief growing season. The type of farm house she bought and area she lives in is and echo of my favorite region of NH, the Monadnock area that many of you have heard me speak of before. I feel I could go out with my camera and find all these things she is describing and photograph them here even though it isnt in VT. The boulder strewn stream next to the road with a little farm house across the road is so common in the country. I know of several out west of here that fit that bill and one even has the remnants of a dam and a mill. Maybe Ill take a road trip with my camera when the weather clears.

No disappointment here that she abandoned her stream project. She was bowing to the realities of what can be accomplished and what cant. Shed never had time to learn to garden if shed persisted in trying to tame the stream. Cant really be done. The very second she began to think she had things to where she wanted them wed have gotten a wet spring like the one this year and it would have wiped it all out, moved the boulders, changed the course of the stream even. What seems a picturesque bubbling brook becomes a raging torrent and trying to tame that would be a total exercise in futility. (even more so than creating a perennial border) Sometimes the best way to deal with something is to not deal with it at all and to work around it.

My Peper (grandfather) Michaud always had a vegetable garden and I loved to walk through it with him and watch the bean and tomatoes form on the vines. My mother did a bit of gardening but not too much. Maybe the urge to grow and nurture things is in the gene code. Apparently I had a great aunt, whom I never knew, who was a magical gardener and could make anything grow. She was a head-strong stubborn woman from what Ive heard and my mother has compared me to Ma Tante Colombe for as long as I can remember.

Are we victims of fear or are we just being prudent? I check the back seat of my car before getting in and always leave it near the entrance of a mall under a light, lock my doors etc. Im always careful and plan for the worst. I was assaulted, twice as an adolescent, and that changes your view forever. The first time I was thirteen and it was an older retired man who lured me into his home to see his new puppies. The second time I was sixteen and it was a young man I knew who was supposed to be giving me a ride home and took me to the woods. Enough said, but I have no trust anymore unless a person has earned it. Both times I managed to escape but as I said it changes your view forever.

Hmmm back to the book,,,

I really enjoyed her observations about gardens set-up for a photo shoot or how about a garden tour. How many of us have seen that? I was guilty of picking up a few pots of Asiatic lilies to add color to a couple places in the gardens when we had the tour here but not the wholesale trucking in of plantings like she describes.

I also really loved her observation about Caretakers guilt. Im so guilty of that. Eden had to remind me recently that I was the boss of the plants and not the other way around. LOL

Ok I have so much more to say but must be off for now.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 9:01AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

It is a bit odd to contribute since I do not have the book at hand. I read it shortly after moving to our property, a place with a creek that floods each spring and at other times as well.
There are beauties in nature that do NOT need to be controlled by the gardener, and I agree with the author and Deanne both, that it was no disappointment to me that she abandonned the streamside project.
My first concern in the book was about her dream of even buying the far from her home. I have never been one to want a second vacation home though. It seems like ever too much work for me, and also I like to have variety in places to go, not always tend to the same spot. For me, one home is sufficient.

As to being a victim of fear. I believe Deanne and I must be twins...that so many women face the issue of violence and must deal with it. I too was assaulted as a young child several times but in my case did not escape twice. I try to practice thinking that everything that I experience has the meaning that I give to it. I guess there was meaningful outcome to it all, but one certainly wouldn't choose to find meaning that way...

I need the book at hand to offer more. I recall loving comments about her husband, her daughter....but am not sure if I am jumping ahead of today's assignment or not!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 9:50AM
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Kathy, I'm enjoying the book and have to restrain myself from going too far ;o)

I think the quote from the prologue describes the Idylls perfectly - gardening is the common demoninator.

I wasn't disappointed that Dorothy gave up on taming the stream. Some things are meant to remain wild and natural, plus my first thought was - it will never work.

I would love to meet someone like Adele. I haven't had a gardening mentor except the ones I've met online. My paternal grandfather always had a large vegetable garden, but he was long gone by the time I became interested in gardening. I fell into gardening purely by accident. It caught my attention, how Dorothy became a gardener without giving it any thought. She was given one little plant - "and so I became a gardener" With many of the hobbies that I have had in my life I made a decision that I would learn this or that, but not gardening. It chose me.

We really don't have woods as such here in NW Iowa, but we always did a lot of camping and hiking when the kids were growing up. I remember the first time we ever camped in woods that were also inhabited by black bears. We were in northern Minnesota at a pretty rustic and remote campground with only a handful of campsites. DD needed to use the facilities during the night. I remember being so afraid of what might pop out of the woods.

Deanne, that would be so cool if you would post a few pictures to go along with the theme of the book.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 2:01PM
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veronicastrum(z5 IL)

Kathy, this has been an excellent choice. I've enjoyed the book very much so far (and I'm ahead of our assigned reading!)

Deanne, I thought of you many times in reading this book. Some of it was geographical, since you are close to Vermont in a similar area (i.e. something that is not flat prairie!). But then there was the paragraph or two where she talked about gardeners apaologizing for their gardens, because in our minds we see all the shortcomings, the imperfections, the unexecuted or incomplete plans instead of the glory that does exist. I hope I don't offend you by saying that I felt this fit you quite well. Actually, I think many of us are "guilty" of this syndrome when we share our gardens with others.

The comments about fear are interesting. I grew up in the City of Chicago in a neighborhood that was not a "bad" neighborhood but it was definitely an urban neighborhood. I think that personal safety became somewhat second nature to me. In contrast, I know many people who grew up in safer areas that have a much higher level of fear for their personal safety. Perhaps I've grown to accept a certain level of risk as a part of life, while those who are used to a less-risky environment have more fear of the unknown. I know when I visited London for the first time a year and a half ago, I set out on my own from the hotel with a map and had a wonderful time exploring on my own for most of the day. My SIL, for one, would never, ever consider walking around a strange city on her own.

I guess I was somewhat disappointed that she gave up on the stream project, because I thought she did not put a proper effort into finding out the right way to do it. Having faced tangles of brush myself, I've learned that there is very much a right way and a wrong way to do it. You need to "know your enemy" so you know how to attack in the proper way (i.e. cutting honeysuckle without spraying the stump with herbicide is a lesson in futilty), you need to have some sort of plan in mind and you need to have patience, patience and a little more patience. If you compare our land today to how it was 11 years ago, there are tremendous changes, but none of those happened over night. All took several years to manifest themselves. But back to Dorothy; her neighbor advised her about "brush-hogging" but she was mystified by the term and as far as I've read never investigated further.

While I did not have an Adele in my life to inspire me to begin gardening, I did think that Adele remind me in many ways of Trudi Temple, whom many of us were blessed to meet this summer. I think in my head I was giving Adele a little bit of a German accent!

'bug, your comments about a second home are interesting. Did you know that before we bought our existing land we started out looking for a second homesite? But the more we thought about the expense, the time, the work of having two places, we decided instead to build our "second home" close enough to our jobs so that it would be our only home. I do feel like I have a place that I can retreat to on a daily basis. When we bought this land, it was a tough choice between two parcels. The second parcel was smaller and its total price was higher, but what almost sold me on the other parcel was the stream running through the back. I'm happy with where we are at, but I've also had the chance to visit the home that was built on the second parcel and that turned into a beautiful site also.

Well, speaking of streams I am babbling like a brook! I'll go ahead and post this and read what the others have to share.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 2:31PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I enjoyed the book (finished it yesterday) and found much in this book familiar. Im from the east coast of Canada and the terrain is somewhat similar to that of New England. While I have only passed through Vermont a couple of times, it felt like somewhere I had been before Like GB, I wondered about the authors impulse to buy a second and remote property. I cannot imagine wanting to maintain a second property. I wonder if the authors Maryland home is a condo or apartment because otherwise it must be pretty neglected if theres a garden there!

To respond to your talking points

I no longer have a real job and the garden has become a good part of my substitute for the intellectual and creative challenges that one normally finds in real work. And gardening has certainly come to dominate my conversations with people! Im fortunate to live in a neighbourhood where there are quite a few very active gardeners so there are lots of like-minded people to engage in such conversations!

Yes, I was disappointed that she didnt follow through on the stream garden. I would love to have a stream with a garden on its banks, so that probably shaped my reaction a good deal! With a big property such as she has, probably one of the hard things is to stay focused and complete one project and not get distracted by the lure of so many other areas to tackle. Im not sure if that counts as acknowledging the realities of trying to manipulate nature or the ever-present issue of how to allocate scarce resources among competing demands! (Mind you, I would have allocated more resources to the stream and considerably less to the huge pond project! I might have drained the swamp to get access to that good soil to build a garden there but I wouldnt have made such a huge pond)

My garden influences were largely family. We (mother, sister and I) lived with my maternal grandparents until I was about 14. The property was a farm in New Brunswick (a province on the east coast of Canada). It was no longer being actively farmed (my grandfather was 80 when I was born), but was reverting to a wonderful natural garden waterlilies in the lake; wild rhododendrons on the path to the lake; wintergreen on the fishing rocks; pink and yellow ladies slippers, red trilliums, yellow dog-toothed violets, ferns, in the woods; wild raspberries and blackberries in logging clearings; wild blueberries and bunchberries on pasture edges and rock piles; wild strawberries in the fields along with columbine, daisies, asters, yarrow, Canterbury Bells, Devils Paintbrush, Goldenrod and other flowers; and on and on We helped my grandfather in the ½ acre or so vegetable garden and the old orchard he maintained into his mid-90s, and helped my mother in the perennial garden that her paternal grandmother had started in the late 1800s. Both my sister and I are avid gardeners. I think it was impossible for us not to have absorbed a love for gardens! All you gardening grandparents out there you never know what an influence you may be having on impressionable minds

I havent read that book Places in the World a Woman Could Walk. Certainly most women are more physically vulnerable than men, so theres always an element of fear when youre on your own and one needs to take reasonable precautions. But you cannot let your life be dictated by fear. Ive never suffered an assault and hope I never will! But I think I avoided one as a kid when I was about 9 years old. We lived on a rural road called Golden Grove and there was a road in town nicknamed the Golden Mile (because the street lights were yellow) One hot summer day I was lying in a lawn chair on the front lawn and a car stopped. The guy driving asked if he was heading in the right direction to get to the Golden Mile. I said No; its in town so you have to turn around and go back the way you came. He said come with me and show me the way. Mom had warned us about getting in a car with a stranger (or a few neighbours of dubious reputation!) so this immediately struck me as odd. Being a smart-aleck, I said Wait a minute; I need to get something. And went around the house and let my grandfathers dog off the chain. Captain was probably a cross between a German Shepherd and a Husky but looked a fair bit like a wolf and had a temperament to match! (But Cappy and I were buddies) Cappy tore off around the house and made a beeline for the car! That guy took off very fast! I felt rather pleased with myself but that experience also firmly fixed in my mind that something nasty could happen anywhere at any time and that it was best to be vigilant. I wish all assault/potential assault situations could end as satisfactorily as that one did. I think my affection for (a) large, hairy dogs and (b) dogs with temperament issues goes back to being raised with Cappy he certainly redeemed a lot of his faults that day

The woods I spent the most time in were my grandfathers woods. My sister and I roamed 100 acres or so, following blazed trails or blazing our own (we learned early to carry a hatchet and use it to mark our way in unfamiliar territory) There were black bears in the woods so you always had to be alert. Back then, the bears werent really a problem but in more recent times, the local bear population at home have become more aggressive. A number of them have had to be trapped and removed to more remote areas. Another thing we had to be careful of when we were kids in the woods was to be aware of when it was hunting season and dress in appropriately visible clothes! Also, we needed to avoid getting too near the neighbour down the roads bordering pasture. He liked to target shoot in the pasture and he was a bad shot! Lots of stray bullets headed into our woods There is sometimes good reason to be fearful in the woods!

And Im babbling like the brook too

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 7:10PM
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Good evening all,
Before commenting, I think we all seem to be reading pretty fast , and so I would suggest that we discuss to page 153 the next day or two..that would be through the chapter entitled The WildFlower Meadow.I will post some talking points later this evening, but would ecourage you to discuss whatever moves you..

I also feel no dissapointment that Dorothy gave up the stream garden. I think this excercise for her was one that she needed in order to understand the helplessness we gardeners feel at times when nature has her way with us.A garden is an enviornment that we try to control-often we do a fine job. Ultimately though there are events that we can only stand by and watch happen.

My Dad was my gardening mentor, although he died before I really had any garden to speak of.I grew up in Southern Calif, 4 miles from the ocean. I remember that when I was in 3rd grade my parents went to Hawaii, back in those days it was on a PanAm prop and took 9 hours to fly. They brought back about a zillion slides , most of them of plants. He began transforming our yard into a tropical garden-fuchsias, hibiscus, begonias...especially the fuschias. I still have an angel wing begonia that was growing in my back yard in LA in the 50's/60' was the first plant I ever took a cutting from.I have taken it with me everywhere I have been, and it is a connection to my Father...

Thanks to all who shared unsettleing events.. when I was in my early 20's I worked in a pizza joint, and one night we were robbed at gunpoint. Fortunately no one was injured, and we were able to identify the thief in a line-up , and he paid for his crime. This incident has stayed with me for many years. I still feel resentful that this pathetic guy has impacted my life and made me much more fearful than I was before.

I'll be readimg for awhile and then be back !

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 11:04PM
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A few things to consider:

I am right there with Blanche on her tuberous begonias.Sounds like hers look alot better than mine. This makes me think of things we try to grow year after year with little or no success, yet we continue to perservere. There are invariably the plants that I wag my finger at, and threaten "one more year! I swear you are gone in one more year--" they always seem to get an extension.

Dorothys pond was created while her Mother declined. This did not strike me as a distraction, but rather a way to take control , to direct something to happen at her will, while her Mothers health became impossible to effect.

Must retire-will read more and post again tommorow !
Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 12:31AM
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On becoming a gardener....There are a few other topics .. hothouses, watering habits, seeds, so yes, there are other things to talk about. LOL

I was lucky to have several gardening mentors. My paternal grandmother was the first I remember. Her zinnias in a staid New England community were over the top in the day. My grandfather was the veggie guy, and taught me that a warm tomato right out of the garden is the best lunch ever. My parents always had a garden, contributed to by our church community, and that was where I learned to share bounty.

The person who got me into "serious" gardening was Adele Simmons, founder/owner/caretaker of Caprilands in Conventry, Connecticut. Seeing a knot garden for the first time imprinted every cell of my body with a thirst for making plants do things they weren't meant to do. This is what happens when we garden, right? It also brought my first "plant love" -- herbs to the fore.

As for feeling safe, nothing astronomically horrible happened to me when I was a child, but I grew up in the country with parents who felt that travel was a pretty great thing. I learned how to hail a NY cab at age 6, found out how to cut down coconut at age 9, lived in Haiti for awhile where safety is relative. Now that I travel A Lot by car I have simple routines that make me feel that I am in control no matter where I am.

As for the stream - I'm glad she left it alone. It was the wildness of the parcel and the abandoned mill that brought her to the spot and she always had that to go back to.

It took me a bit to post since this book really drew me in at a time in my life where "how" to garden is a real question. I've done the high-maintenance, collector type of gardening but heading toward 50 (the same age as the author at the time of her purchase) I'm looking at plants and gardening very differently.

Onward to the next chapters!


    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 6:55AM
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deanneart(z5Southern NH)

Some thoughts for the day, First and foremost Im totally enjoying reading others observations and thoughts. Ive learned some things about my dear friends here that I didnt know before and isnt that a good thing? Deeper understanding of another person helps to cement friendships.

Im finding it interesting that we have such opposite opinions on the stream project. Im curious if those of you who felt she should have persevered think she should have done so at the expense of the pond and the perennial borders she eventually established? (Not that that was a certainty but it was a possibility) I know that Woody would have preferred a stream garden over a large pond but what about the rest of you? And I smiled a big smile when I read Woodys observation, "the ever-present issue of how to allocate scarce resources among competing demands!" Isnt that the truth for most of us here, whether time or money, there is always a project or two that we just cant get to as much as wed like.

V No offense taken, I totally agree with you. I felt she was describing going on a tour of my gardens with me. Im guilty as charged. I dont know why that is but I need to get my critical filters off and enjoy the beauty more. An interesting thing happened last winter. A friend of mine came over and we were looking at a few garden photographs and one in particular just took my breath away. It was a view of the Sundial Garden and Terrace Gardens in July, just before the garden tour. She thought Id taken the pic from a magazine. Anyway, I seriously didnt remember it looking that beautiful. How can it be that I found the photograph intensely lovely and I never saw it in person like that.

Kathy, How neat you have a begonia from your familys yard from the 50s/60s. The plants I have here that are the most meaningful are the ones like that with history. Ive got a jade plant that was a cutting from a plant that belonged to my biology teacher from High School. Hmmm That would make it about 40 years old now. I also love the peonies from Dougs grandmothers farm, and a sedum that came from my Memers house. They arent the best cultivars on the planet but Id never want to be without them in my garden. They are a few of the Invisible Garden plants here. As she says, "Always it is the invisible garden that gives the visible garden its deepest meaning." I'd love to hear something about everyone else's 'Invisible Garden's.

Martie, I went to Caprilands and met Adele many years ago with a friend who was an herbalist. We went down for one of her wonderful luncheons. It was a memorable day and before Id really gotten into gardening here.

I enjoyed the authors thoughts on change, "Maybe the new self was there all along, like a hidden spring. And Change usually comes about as the result of a long, gradual, largely internal process that remains invisible until a dramatic gesture reveals it to the world." As a person whos made one of these dramatic changes, losing and maintaining a 112 pound weight loss, I find this to be very true. For most of my life I thought everything would be better if I lost weight but the truth of the matter is that it wasnt the weight loss that made life better it was the years of coming to understand and then let go of the baggage that caused the eating disorder to begin with. Id never have lost the weight unless Id faced the demons and let them go and that took fifteen years or more.

OK Im going to reread a couple chapters and be back later.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 8:16AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

I absolutely agree that sharing our thoughts here is a pleasure and an eye opener.

I think we agree (I hope) that our different observations are by no means criticism! And so I will bravely say that I am not a lover of ponds and water features. Of course I can say this, because I have a creek and pond already. But for me, the natural aspect of the creek and pond are what appeal to me. And so I agree with Kathy that there are times when "we can only stand by and watch happen". I would go so far as to say "should" and not "can", but I am an activist... I like Deanne's "Sometimes the best way to deal with something is to not deal with it at all and to work around it." I very much feel that sometimes we should leave more things alone, and in this case, the ruin and wildness were the very things that attracted her to the site, the beginning of the love affair with the property. The same pattern occurs with interior decoration for me, and these days I feel it is best to wait a year or even more before diving in to change things.

And so what are the 'invisible garden' things for me? I have many plants from friends who have come and gone, and these are so meaningful. Some from Idylls of course! My Greek Oregano comes from a friend who died of cancer a few years ago. Some Siberian iris, a gift from a nursery man. Heuchera Rachel from an old friend. Of course for me, clematis vines from everywhere...are intensely thoughtful and personal gifts.
It goes beyond plant gifts too. For Christmas, DD once gave me a note saying she would give me a day at a fairly distant nursery so we could chat. This was before she got sucked into the disease, but she understood the passion. :-) And now, she too is looking for a home and one of her three requirements is land with a southern exposure!
I grow plants because they connect me to others. My father photographed Alpine wildflowers, learning their names in the process. I grow Martagon lilies and Gentians because of him.
I also have a special fondness for a rose and some apple seedlings which my friend Ann showed me how to grow from cuttings. This is what Eden started for others no doubt last night with her presentation.

Another babbling brook signing off...

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 9:37AM
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taryn(S Ontario Z6B)

First let me say I'm really enjoying everyone's responses! Very revealing and interesting to think about our differing reactions to the book, and what underlies them. Want to echo the thought that differing observations should not be taken as criticism--there is no wrong and right, just feelings, and everyone's feelings and interpretations are valid.

Re fear--like anger it can be used towards productive or unproductive ends. Growing up in Toronto, much of it in the infamous Jane/Finch corridor, I grew streetwise pretty quick. I recall taking a shortcut home from school along Black Creek, at about 8 years old, with little sister (6) in tow. Suddenly a shrub called out to us, in a deep voice, that it wanted to show us something. Grabbed DS's hand and ran like the wind. Mum did not like us taking the shortcut after that, though of course, being kids, we did. But we never went alone and never talked to strange shrubs!

Another incident occurred at 13, when the (married) superintendent of our building, a Vietnam vet, offered to show me the view of the Toronto from the roof of our 18 story apartment building. That sounded pretty cool, but it soon became apparent he wanted to show me something else! Not many places to run to when youre 18 stories in the air, but eventually a well-placed knee secured my escape. Couldn't tell anyone (what was I thinking going up there???) so just tried to avoid him in the hallways and lobby, and was much less trusting of people after that.. Lesson learned. All childhood naivety went out the window that day. But these kind of fearful situations didn't paralyse me, or make me overly fearful, just careful. I lock my doors at night, though many people here in this part of the country dont. Out here I fear coyotes (and wasps lately) more than anything else these days. But a healthy respect for such things is not a fear that immobilizes, but teaches one to stay safe. Productive fear.

Re the woods. The incident that stands out the most is the night we spent at Yellowstone National Park. Not having the foresight to make a reservation, we ended up in an area meant for tents, with our pop-up trailer. No electricity meant no heater, and it was bloody chilly, 7C (45F). We had a long, cold and mostly sleepless night, the highlight of which was the 4:00am family walk through the very dark woods to the washroom since bear-scare warnings had forced us to lock the portapotty (and food, and chapstick, and anything else with any remote fragrance) in the van. Kids were absolutely terrified wed be attacked by a bear, or gored by a buffalo, (the latter being depicted in great detail in diagrams in the washroom, which only added to the general hysteria). They cried all the way there and back, and I must admit my heart was pounding, while Glenn and I tried to make lots of noise and wave the flashlight around a lot. Not looking to go back any time soon!

Re the clearing of the stream; I was not disappointed at all that Dorothy stopped clearing the stream. In my mind, the stream was what drew her to buy the property, but it reflected a deeper need, to be true to herself, to have a place she could write. To be somewhere away from the fear she felt in Maryland, somewhere she felt safe enough to open up and let her words pour forth. So once she had cleared enough of the physical stream to free her writers block, to let her stream of conciousness flow freely, her work there was done. She had done enough, cleared enough physically and mentally, to get to the point where she could begin writing in earnest, in her study. Her goal had been reached, her job done. To me the actual stream, and her work there, was a metaphor for her mental stream. If that makes any sense

Finally, I love the concept of the invisible garden. From the prologue:

"I think of this complex of conscious and unconscious associations as an "invisible garden" that each of us, gardeners and garden visitors alike, carries around. These associations remain dormant until the plants we happen to be looking at reawakened them. Then old, half-forgotten feelings wash over us, perhaps joy and pleasure, perhaps loss and pain. We can never know in advance how walking through a garden will make us feel. Sometimes the fresh perceptions of childhood come back to us for a few glorious moments. Sometimes, seemingly for now reason at all, we become sad. Always it is the invisible garden that gives the visible garden its deepest meaning."

This, to me, rings so true! Which is probably why I spent major time and effort digging, potting and bringing hundreds of plants from my old garden to my new home, in the middle of August yet! People thought I was cracked. "Theyre just plants, why go through all the effort?" Because they are not "just plants" they are associations with people I know and care about! Grown from seed were Cynthias Salvia sclarea turkestanica, Janies Geranium pratense Midnight Reiter, Marys purple splashed Platycodon, Marias Caryopteris divaricata (which also reminds me of David B, who first posted about it on "little known plants for fall gardens" thread. Many, many more. I have attachments to these plants! How could I leave all the Hellobores I grew from John Dudleys expensive New Zealand seed, which BruceNH got me so interested in. Some plants are just starting to bloom after 3 years! How could I leave Ken and Joans Dianthus, one of many horticultural gifts from the gardening couple I met on the sidewalk, who then gave me the glass for my first (but hopefully not last) greenhouse? Or Carolyns (another favoured neighbor) variegated hosta? All strongly evoke people and/or places and memories and could not be replaced at a nursery. They are what makes my personal garden MY garden. I could not possibly have left them behind.

I was devastated to realize recently EPs Agastache rupestris was one of the plants that didnt make the transition. Garden imitating life? I have a few precious seeds from this plant and also her A. astromontana Pink Pop. Both will live on in my garden, if my seedstarting skills allow, just as memories of this special lady live on in my heart. Okay, that evoked a little too much for me right now, so Ill stop babbling now. I was holding off on reading more until we got permission to go ahead, so will look forward to a nice pot of sleepytime tea and diving into the next chapters once the boys have gone to bed this evening. Thanks Mary for the inspiration and Kathy for choosing so well


    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 3:57PM
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veronicastrum(z5 IL)

I missed Woody's post for the longest time because I kept seeing the babbling brook comment at the end and thinking it was my post!

Dorothy's comments about her mother's illness and death really struck a chord with me. I couldn't beleive that her mother's friends drove her home rather than seeking immediate help when she was having a stroke. Several years ago, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. After several rough months of treatment, she had a reprieve and had about nine months of good quality time. But things started to decline on the next Mother's Day. (I think I've shared this story with some so bear with me if I'm repeating myself.) She went to my brother's for Mother's Day, and as the afternoon progressed she started to become unresponsive and to speak non-sensically. THEY LET HER DRIVE HOME! To this day, I thank God that she didn't kill an innocent person while driving home. I tried to call her later that day and couldn't get her until long after I knew she should be home. At that point, I called my brother and found out what had happened earlier. I convinced him he had to call 911 and drive over there, and break the door down if necessary. Yes, she was having a stroke; it was the first of several small ones she had over the next couple of months and then the cancer returned. We lost her in October.

So I have a low tolerance for folks who ignore the early signs of stroke in others. I know bug has shared this before but it bears repeating. You just need to remember STR, the first three letters of the word stroke. If someone seems to be acting oddly, you ask them to smile, raise their arms over their head and talk (a simple sentence). If they are having trouble with these, call 911. And yes, call 911 rather than drive them to the hospital, because the EMT's can start emergency treatment on the way to the ER. Strokes can be very treatable if treatment is done early enough.

Okay, off my soapbox. So I was very empathetic with Dorothy's mom having a stroke and Dorothy feeling that she should have been able to save her.

On to invisible gardens. My best invisible garden is actually inside my house. It's a clivia plant given to me by a friend named Fred. Fred was a very eccentric gentleman that we got to know through a friend. When he was younger, he had a terrific singing voice and when he was in the military he supplemented his income by singing professionally at churches. He would be a cantor at a synagogue and then squeeze in at least two different protestant services on Sunday. He saved all that money and bought several wooded acres when he was discharged. He built his own house - not to imply that he was a great builder, though! It was an interesting structure that would be very difficult to describe in words since I could never quite make sense of it, as many times as I saw it.

I signed up for a plant propagation class at the local college, and Fred was taking the same class. I agreed to drive him home from class. One day, Fred invited into his home to see his clivias in bloom. Mnay of you know how many orchids Deanne has. Fred's clivias were even more numerous! It was quite an amazing sight. I later found out I was one of only a very few people who had ever been inside the house. At the end of class, Fred brought in one of the larger plants and gave me a division from it. The next winter, Fred's home was destroyed in a fire. I have one of the last of his clivias! Fred himself passed away several months later; although he was not injured in the fire I think his spirit died with his home. His land is now owned by our local conservation district.

Once when we were on a fall walk with Fred, he clipped a stem of Canada goldenrod that had a gall on it, stripped the foliage and made the stem the centerpiece of an impromptu arrangement. Amazing!

Switching gears, I wanted to go back to the comment about gardens being staged for photo shoots. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to tour the headquarters of Better Homes & Gardens. The amazing thing to see was the prop closet in the photography department. It went on forever. You want a vase? We have short ones, tall ones, round ones square ones, skinny ones, fat ones, Asian ones, modern ones and lots of things that aren't really vases but will do just fine. And that's just vases... I can only imagine how a garden gets staged for some magazines.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 4:09PM
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Hello Readers..
What wonderful moving stories you have shared, and astute observations and analysis of our book. I find myself coming home from work , and forcing myself to do the chores before logging in to check out the latest posts. Kudos to you all..
I had spoken yesterday of that begonia that I have been dragging around with me for decades. Deanne challenged us to think about our invisible garden. This begonia is important (I remember vividly the year I thought I lost it over the winter, and my feelings were almost grief-like ) but something else that resonates strongly with me is fragrance, and in particular the fragrance of citrus blossoms. I would never consider living anywhere that I could not grow citrus because of how the aroma makes me feel, how evocative of happy times in my life.. Its really remarkable when you think about it how powerful aromas are.

I too prefer a running creek to a pond. Maybe its because I grew up near the ocean and like to see the water move... to Dorothy it was the stillness and peacefulness of a pond that was important to her.
"When Im very tired, or tense ,or in a bad mood I find that a swim in these amniotic waters cures my ills for awhile. As I glide through the cool, silken water, play with the fish, and gaze at the flowers that grow on the bank, my cares slip away, my mind empties itself, Im washed clean of my sins, and I become as innocent of grief as a newborn child."
So here is an individual that finds comfort in a womblike place, and the womb is the connection to her mother.
Last night I read about Wanda. I enjoyed this chapter because for some reason I have always been fascinated with Florida. No interest whatsoever in living there, nothing like that, but I like reading stories that take place there, and know that much of the state (like Calif) has been compromised by development.. Wanda had the luck to have a foot in two camps-the New England garden and the tropics. No money, no luck, but a passion for life, and she lived it.
Id like to comment on the garden staging issueWhen we (Napa Master Gardeners) had our tour in 05 I was the docent captain in one of the gardens. I borrowed about a dozen plants from a garden center owned by the company I work for, mostly to plug holes and camouflage the the utility (i.e garbage cans) area. Sheila, the garden owner felt a little guilty , but her garden was beautiful on its own and I told her she could feel proud the plants we brought in were a drop in the bucket compared to her overall garden. I have also visited two or three gardens that have been featured in national magazines, my favorite being Freeland and Sabrina Tanners garden here in Napa. Every photo I have seen of this garden has been totally accurate-nothing trucked in, nothing added. No reason to, the garden is spectacular. So I guess what Im saying is some of these photos are legit, and here on the west coast I think of Thomas Hobbs, Marcia Donahue, Keeyla Meadows and others.

Off to have dinner and read some more !
Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 9:49PM
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I truly think that I enjoy my garden more in the winter when I look at the pictures and videos I have taken. I see more of the overall effect and dont remember all the flaws.

The invisible garden makes me think of the eggplant that I grow each year because I remember grandpa growing it. Another is the wonderful garden gate that my dad and mom gave me last summer for my birthday. It was in the garden of my grandparents when my dad was growing up. Dad told me how they would climb over it and grandma was always afraid of someone getting stabbed as it does have some pretty wicked points.

The fear factor, a few more thoughts. The only fear I recall as a child was of bums. It used to be that bums would jump off the freight trains that ran through our little town of 300. They would go to peoples doors and ask for bread. As a little child I had quite a fear of them.
Taryn, funny that you mentioned camping in Yellowstone, when we camped there 5 years ago we were warned about a mountain lion that was spotted in the campground. As we were setting up we saw several rangers with tranquilizer guns. There were signs around warning you not to walk alone, etc. I did feel pretty secure in our pickup camper with its own bathroom.

Im just beginning to read about the building of the earth pond. Most of you know that we have a pond, in fact maybe you might say two. The pond was built by DH. I wasnt in his life at that point, but now Im curious to know more about the construction. The other was actually dug as a lagoon for the dairy cows. After the cows were sold, we pumped it out for the final time in 1998. The manure was pumped on the fields. After that the hole filled with water. I imagine that it would now be somewhat like manure tea.
We also have a stream, but around here they are called creeks. It goes from flooding in the spring to totally dry at times. The other day I was walking by the pond and the mud was completely imprinted with deer footprints. As long as they stay by the pond and out of the garden. Sometimes DH thinks I should garden around the pond area. I fight against the idea. Its too big of a project, I wouldnt be able to maintain it, its too far from the other gardens and lots more excuses.

Well, I think I should go read some more.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 10:54PM
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Have any of you ever been to Monument Valley? As I read the chapter "Bones Of the Earth", I thought often of this place that has always had great meaning for me. I don't think I overstate when I say that rocks and stones and outcroppings anywhere cannot compare to the experience of Monument Valley. I am not at all religous in spite of my twelve years of Catholic education,but I have always felt that Monument Valley was profoundly spiritual, and I really cannot fully describe my feelings when I go there. It is not like anyplace else.

As Dorothy discussed the bones of the earth,the granite guys and the stone guys, I reflected always on Monument Valley. Anyone I care deeply for, if I needed to suggest to them to visit a place, that place would be Monument Valley. Wish I was there right now with my telescope.
Oh Yeah, make sure you stay at Gouldings Lodge.The view is great.
Kathy in the Napa Valley

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 12:01AM
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Just a quick note, I should really be eating breakfast. Kathy, we were in Monument Valley just last summer. I will have to keep that in mind when I get to that part of the book.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 7:54AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Quickly, two comments.

Michelle, the neighbours all suggest that I plant around our pond. My reasons for not doing so are very much like yours: the size and time and work involved, but also more. I LOVE it the way it is with grasses and goldenrod and Joe Pye Weed doing well on their own. Another thing for me is that Canada Geese will stay away if the edges are natural and tall. If mowed like a golf course, they would be pooping everywhere.

Kathy, one of my most spiritual spots would have to be Ninstints, on the Queen Charlotte Islands. (Yes, Charlotte is named in part for this location.) The abandoned totem Poles, the wind and trees...You do not speak out loud there, and not because anyone asked you not to.
We were so fortunate to be there to celebrate the moment of the designation of this site as a park after years of effort to save it from the clear cutters.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 8:04AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)


    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 8:08AM
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deanneart(z5Southern NH)

I totally understand the fascination with the bones of the earth. There are few things that enjoy more than coming across an enormous glacial erratic when hiking in the woods. There are so many of them around here and throughout the NE states. They have such power just sitting there. I always like to think about where the glacier picked them up and why they wound up where they did when they got dropped off. My DB bought a wood lot in the Monadnock region and there are many of these erratics on his land. The early settlers to this area actually used the granite for building and you can see chisel marks on some of the monoliths. I use the word monolith because boulder doesnt really describe it. Here is a pic taken of Doug and I next to one a year ago Sept. The reason I posted the photo with us in it and not just the rock is because you can't really get a feel for the sheer size of this without some reference.

There are probably twenty or so of these glacial erratics on the top of a hill on DB's land. Very neat to see them standing there in the middle of the woods.

Kathy Ive never been to Monument Valley but Bryce Canyon had the same affect on me. Ive said that if you only have one place to see in that area then Bryce is the place to go.

Michelle, I think you dont want to garden your pond for the same reason Dorothy abandoned the stream project.

Bug your pond is perfect the way it is and Id never want to see that beautiful swath of wild flowers and grasses tamed. It just wouldnt be the same. It somehow fits perfectly with the barn.

I'm loving hearing about everyone's 'Invisible Gardens'.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 8:46AM
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veronicastrum(z5 IL)

Deanne, would you be mad if I told you that you have big bones? (snigger, snigger)

I'm sorry - smack me but I couldn't resist that one.

You all should have seen me this summer when we excavated for the fire pit area. Of course, rocks kept turning up right and left and I kept circling around, eyeing the rocks as they emerged. Every once in a while, I would grab one (or have a larger one grabbed for me!) and say, "This one needs to be right here!" I'm very happy with the placement of each of these, but don't ask me to explain why I felt certain ones had to go certain places.

And there's a good-sized pile still waiting to be struck by inspiration.

The story of the woodland almost had me in tears. For a moment I couldn't believe they left when the sky looked so ominous, but then I realized that being there would not have changed the outcome one bit, unless of course one of them were to run out into the storm and get injured, and of course that's not a better outcome. When we were in the final negotiations on this property, a storm with strong straight line winds came through this area. We put things on hold for a day ot two until we could run out here and check the property again. Fortunately, the trees here were largely spared, but we did see heavy damage not too far north of us. And we have a large swamp willow that has a piece of grain bin embedded in its trunk, a souvenir of the 1968 tornado that destroyed the neighbor's farmhouse. Nature gives us much beauty, but at times she takes away as well.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 5:04PM
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We have experienced straight-line winds. I remember walking out of our basement after a June storm 5 years ago and finding total destruction everywhere I looked. It was dark, still raining and lightning. We were without electricity so we were just like Dorothy and her DH in the fact that we couldnt see much. Once back in the house I could hear water and upon inspection of DDs bedroom, found a large hole in the ceiling and a much larger (10 foot) hole in the roof of the house. Rick, his DS and his SIL were on the roof while it was still lightning some nailing down a large tarp. We lost a building but no trees, but many large trees in the area were uprooted. It was a sight I hope to never see again. It took the better part of the summer for repair and clean up and to tell the truth there are still things that are undone.

I have read a few parts of the book out loud to DH. I told him he should be glad that Im not like her. That woman can spend money. DH sometimes thinks that I am always coming up with ideas, but at least they arent in the scale of a 2nd home, a pond or buying the woods next door. I also read him the part about where they are digging the pond and she keeps rescuing rocks that are dug up. When we pickup rocks in our fields, there is always a part of the trailer that is reserved for the rocks that I want to keep. I call them the "pretty" ones. DH just laughs. Rocks to him have always meant work.

Deanne, I remember your rock picture and it is very impressive. We dont have that big of ones here, but DH has had to wrestle ones that are ¼ that size out of his fields.

Kathy, the thing that just awed me about Monument Valley and all the SW was the barrenness of it all. I guess coming from such a lush green state where growing crops is such a big thing, I just couldnt comprehend it.

Enough babbling from me.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 9:42PM
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Buenos Noches Readers,
What a powerful story was the tale of the storm with the srtaight line winds. We apparently do not have these out here, because I have never even heard the term before.We have gales off the ocean, and in SoCal, the Santa Anas which are the hot dry winds that blow off the desert-these are the winds that contribute to our brush fires . And we have earthquakes of course. Only have had one this year year that I actually felt and it was a dinky one.

There are California native plants that require heat/fire for seed germination. Ironically, we build houses in these areas , and sometimes the result is tragic. It is always wise to aknowledge that nature will win the day.

We have lupines here too, they bloom in spring carpeting some of our rolling hillsides between Napa and Sonoma Counties.

So, here are some topics:
Are there times when you have attempted to fight nature and failed, or perhaps had a temporary victory only to relax your vigilance and find that you have become once again engulfed ? Have you had setbacks that were a result of climate or natural disaster?
Dorothys cousin Joyce nagged her to plant a wildflower garden. Can you really plant wildflower garden? There are seed mixes available everywhere that are supposedly regionally crafted. One year I scattered seeds in a vacant lot at the end of my block. This was a mix that was "Bay Area Blend" Not a thing came up-except for the stuff that was already there--plants that were so entrenched there was no room for anything else.

And...Lets read to page 195, through the chapter entitled "The Path" today and tommorow, and then we will finish up on Fri and Sat.
Should we wait to read another book until January because of the busy holidays ahead ? Or would you like to read one between Thanksgiving and Christmas and then start another in January? Do any of you have suggestions for our next book or would you like me to choose one ?

Some other comments: Deanne, I have also been to Brice Canyon, and Zion too. What fantastic places.

'bug loved your photos of Ninstints.

Michelle, yes it is barren. There is something about the dessert Southwest that is almost like being on another planet. I love the forest, and I love the ocean, but there is something profoundly moving about the canyon lands of the southwest. I lived in Sedona AZ for a few years in my early twenties, and I can tell you , waking up every morning to that enviornment was something I never took for granted.

Going to read some more-see you all tommorow !
Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 10:52PM
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deanneart(z5Southern NH)

The story about the loss of the white pine forest was so heartbreaking. Of all the ways I thought that story would go I didnt expect that. When we bought our house almost thirty years ago there was a second growth white pine woods that backed up against the back of our property. It wasnt huge, probably only about twenty acres or so but I loved it and it was one of the reasons Id desperately wanted this house. Wed been living in the city so to be able to sit on the back deck and watch the birds and squirrels was wonderful. Some of these trees were enormous, in fact a couple in our back yard were over 100 feet tall when we had to have them removed. There were lots of patches of wild Ladys Slippers throughout the woods that I watched open every spring.

One day when I returned home from, work (back in the days I commuted to Cambridge when I held a full time position working in an accounting dept.) ALL the trees were gone! The old farmer that owned the land sold it off and the developer who came in to build houses clear cut every single tree. You cant imagine how devastated I was. It broke my heart. That chapter brought back my heartbreak over the loss of that pine woods.

I tried to save some of the Ladys Slippers that hadnt been crushed by the bulldozers but I had no success with that unlike Blanche. I have to say I was wildly impressed that she was able to transplant them because I dont know anyone else whos ever been successful trying to grow them outside of a pine woods.

Wildflower meadows intrigue me but Ive never had any desire to plant one. Im sure V has much to say on this topic. There are beautiful swaths of lupines along Rt. 1 in Maine that I adore. There is nothing quite like a lupine meadow in bloom. Ive never had a lot of success growing lupines either. LOL

On a lighter note, the chapter about Joes discovery of fuchsias was hysterical. I LOL over her description of his desperately trying to remember the name of a plant to try and please her but with little or no success. Doug is very much the same there. His function in our scheme of things is to dig those bones out of the gardens and to mow the lawn. LOL About the only plant name he remembers is Cimicifuga. He was quite put out with me when I told him last year that the name of the plant had been changed to Actaea. He still grumbles about it having taken five years to remember the name of the plant only to have the name changes. He doesnt care, he still calls them Cimicifuga as do I if the truth be told. And then when I read about his deadheading the petunias, well, I almost wet my pants. Again, Doug has done exactly the same thing only it was with my daylilies. Id patiently told him just to remove the old mushy ones and any seed heads he saw starting and he took off most of that years flowers. That was the last time he ever deadheaded anything for me. He surely does a good job digging rocks out though!

I loved her concept of the path and its execution. How typical is it that after all that work she doesnt really walk on it as she was planning to? We put in a shade garden in the back corner of our garden with a lovely granite bench that I was supposed to sit upon and enjoy that secret garden space. Well I never use that or any of the other strategically placed benches around the gardens. I even have a bench up on my hill that is situated to frame a view of the pond between my two large, old oak trees. Nope, dont use that one either. Has anyone else installed a path or bench or something designed to be used in the gardens that you dont use? I like to create spaces designed for quiet, relaxed contemplation only I NEVER use them. There is always a plant to be staked, something to be deadheaded, moved or dealt with in some way or another. It seems that every time I sit I SEE something that must be done that instant. Doug just laughs at me because I cant sit down. One reason I really love to have company in the summer is that it forces me to sit and look instead of do.

I vote for not starting another book until January and to maybe leave this thread open for discussion until then? We still havent heard from Mary. She is an active participant in a book club and I really wanted to hear her thoughts on this and I believe some havent received their books.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 8:26AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Losing trees, even branches, is a heartbreaking thing. It is part of nature's cycle here, but very hard to endure. I have shed tears annually. Both DH and I wish desperatly that we could buy the woods next door.

I too have failed with Lady's Slippers. I have succeeded with other woodland plants such as trillium, cohosh, erythronium, Fairy Bells...but never the Lady's Slippers. This is the one plant that reminds me that there is good reason not to take plants from the wild.

Wildflowers are a very intricate business to grow. I have attended seminars on this and visited planted wildflower sites. It takes time and energy, and I'd add, some equipment as well if you plan to cover any area at all. It involves mowing at strategic times, something that breaks people's hearts, but if neglected, destroys the whole attempt. Frankly, I don't feel that I have enough time remaining to plant one, yet that was part of my original dream when moving here. I think that enjoying what IS HERE, has replaced that dream. Why should I impose on what is lovely in a different way? And also, those seed mixes are not the way to go. There are companies that will mix a package of wildflower seeds specific to your site...but even this requires the time and tools to follow through with the plan.

Yes, there is a lot of Joe in my DH. DH's one word is "Thalictrum". He has a tree he was given when he left the University of Toronto. He is very posessive about it, but I doubt he could tell you what kind of tree it is. (Bechtel Crab)

DH is the one who created the paths here. I did not want them at first, but I knew from my friend Lynn that many husbands need paths and put effort into creating them. We do use them now, and so does Charlotte. The simple benches I put together are used by DH mostly. Like Deanne, there are too many distractions (and bugs) for me to sit still for even a single minute. But I do love walking about and soaking up the beauty. Today I enjoy it from the windows. So so soggy out there!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 1:38PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

V Earlier, I forgot to comment on the stroke incident I had exactly the same reaction as you! How could her mothers friends presumably ladies in the same age range who should be aware of strokes have driven her home instead of calling 911 and getting immediate help?! My mother lived alone in her final years. She had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a form of leukemia that ran her platelet count to virtually zero between weekly transfusions. She and an elderly friend called each other every day to check on each other. It was my mothers friend who called my sister to tell her that Mom was not making sense when she answered the phone that morning. When my sister (a nurse) went over to check on Mom, it was immediately obvious that she had had a stroke. While we all appreciated the arrangement with Moms friend, calling an ambulance immediately would have made more sense! I think the reason she didnt was worrying about who would let them in (superintendent not always around) Perhaps the authors mothers friends worried about things like medical insurance arrangements etc. I think thats all fairly complicated down there, isnt it? In my mothers case, faster help might have reduced some of the damage but, because she was at such high risk of serious bleeding due to the leukemia, the end result would have been pretty much the same but perhaps with a longer period of survival in a disabled state. (Mom died in hospital a month or so later.) And, like the authors mother, Mom wouldnt have wanted that, so perhaps the delay in getting to the hospital was better in the end anyway. I think second-guessing and what if come with the territory in situations like that.

The loss of the pine woods was sad, mainly because I think white pines are the most beautiful evergreen and the only one that gets more beautiful as it ages. The road to my grandfathers farm was lined with old spruce trees. Every winter at least one of them would come down in a storm usually late at night. About 6:00 the next morning, someone would be pounding on our door because they were trying to get to work and the road was blocked! So wed all be out there cutting up the tree and dragging it off the road by the light of an oil lantern - I hate spruce trees! Cutting trees for pulp is a significant source of supplemental income for many people in rural New Brunswick so Im quite used to logging clearings as part of the landscape. Some of the best areas for wild raspberries and blackberries on Grandpas place were old logging clearings (which were in various stages of returning to bush/woods without any help from man!) Im as much distressed these days by the sight of agricultural land abandoned and returning to bush as I am by logging clearings in the eastern half of the country at least. West coast logging is on a different scale and looks worse to me. Every time I see abandoned farmland reverting to bush, I cant help but think of all the pioneer effort it took to clear that and of the sad state of the agricultural economy/rural life represented by the abandonment of the land. Have any of you read Roughing it in the Bush by Suzanna Moodie about her pioneer experiences in Canada? The amount of work and hardship the early pioneers endured was pretty amazing. And, when you read that book, you cant help but think of all the survival skills that are pretty much lost now (e.g. do you know how to make leavened bread without packaged yeast?!)

I kept expecting the author to replant some pines where the trees were lost. Allowing the area to regenerate on its own is admirable in part but rather hap-hazard and a lot of weed species would pop up. Since Im such a big fan of white pines, I would have done a reforestation program with them.

Stones/bones of the earth oh yeah, definitely part of the east coast landscape that I miss. When I moved to southern Ontario, one of the first things that struck me was where are the rocks?! That, and the general absence of painted wooden houses... Brick is the common building material here while it was rare down home.

Wildflower meadows certainly are one of those things that people seem universally drawn to. I get the RHS Garden magazine and there are regularly articles in there about how to start one and/or about particularly nice ones. Most of the fields at my grandfathers had become wildflower meadows. Lupin meadows are fairly common on the Kingston Penninsula area of NB, not too far from where we lived. (Have you ever seen Freeman Pattersons lupine meadow pictures? He has a beautiful lupin meadow in front of his house on Shampers Bluff.), But there werent a lot of lupins in our meadows some but not vast quantities.

We never tried to move Ladys Slippers into the garden. We had mostly yellow ones and just a few pink ones. We had no white pine trees. The Ladys Slippers mainly grew with swamp cedar in a damp pasture. (Swamps are another characteristic part of the Maritime landscape! At the Agricultural College I attended in Quebec, the students from the Maritimes were nicknamed Swampies)

I found the chapter on fuchsias hilarious and read a good deal of it to DH! I was wondering what Deannes reaction to that chapter would be it was inevitable that it would bring you to mind Deanne:-) DH is moderately good at remembering common names of plants but rolls his eyes at the latin ones usually! DH is good at things like deadheading hes a detail-oriented sort of person and also likes things to look tidy so he never objects too much when I rope him into deadheading.

I had a hard time visualizing the path a grass path through the woods sounded wrong to me somehow. I would have expected packed dirt or pine needle/bark mulch, something that would have eventually (if the trees hadnt come down) turned into a mossy path. I think I was visualizing the old logging roads on our place and thats what they looked like.

Wait to January for a new book?! Thats too long

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 5:18PM
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Deanne, interesting that you bring up the never-used benches, seldom used garden seats- I have a gazebo in the middle of my back yard that I rarely use (It was here when we bought the house) -I guess mostly because the table and chairs I have in there are not in the least comfortable.The cats however love it ! It is at least 20years old and starting to fall apart-I could never afford to replace it (It is custom built, not a kit.) So in the next one or two years I am going to demolish it and replace it wih a pergola. I have two creaky redwood club chairs that I sit in most often. I guess we create vignettes in our gardens and like to view them instead of occupy them !

You think there is a "guy thing" about fuchsias?? My dad was an obsessive fuchsia grower, the house I grew up in in the 50's- early 60's LA had them all over the place.He would compete with our neighbor across the street who had a lathe house full of them. I loved popping the buds and often got in trouble for it ! My husband also loved fuchsias-the only nursery he would ever enthusiatically acompany me to was FuchsiaRama , and while famously thrifty (he was an accountant) never objected to any fuchsia purchase.
I'm sure some of you have seen the clear-cut areas in our northwest forests. This is a very contraversial issue out here. I remember in particular driving through Olympic National Park in Washington and viewing the clear cut areas. Very ugly ! At the same time I appreciate the fact that I live in a house that is made out of wood, and the wood has to come from somewhere. I have also seen a transformation in the lumber/building trades in the last five years - engineered wood products, composite decking, lamintates, all trying to re-use and re-cycle.

See you all tommorow ! Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 11:36PM
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I will try to play "catch up". First of all my book finally came; I read it in an evening and
a day. You must understand that I know longer have a Real Job and my time is pretty much my own which means if I want to read all day and night, I do. DH doesnt care as
long as he is fed!

Thank you Kathy for choosing this book. It has opened up new horizons of reading for
me. I loved it. I hadnt read many pages when I realized I knew this woman......and she is
me! Not in the financial ways which were obvious in her hired help and the buying of a
second home and her traveling, but in the way she looks at things and her attitudes about
so many things that I share.

I will try to comment in the order you all have:

1. The Stream; I didnt care that she didnt touch it; I think she was very practical to
realize it was more than she cared to tackle. I personally would have just loved the natural
look of it which pretty much reflects my tastes in all gardening. I dont have edged,
shaped beds, garden rooms etc. I pretty much just have beds where the trees dont
interfere or I can get a shovel in the rocky Ozarks ground. No big granite boulders here;
just tons and tons of field stones of various sizes. Our top soil is pretty shallow.

2. Adele as her influence, I guess I would have to say my dear father was mine for the
vegetable gardening. We were forced to work in the garden as children with him in
charge of directing the troops. He did not do ornamentals. When I began gardening back
in the 60s, I had a vegetable garden. We would have a contest to see who could grow
the largest, first ripe tomato or the longest Missouri Wonder Pole Beans. I still think of
Dad when I garden each spring, especially when I pull a handful of pole beans.

Probably his mother (I hesitate to call her my Grandmother) who had lots of ornamentals
was my influence for perennials and annuals. She was really not a lovely person and I
remember her saying to me "dont pull Grandmas flowers". When our first
granddaughter came along, she could walk through, pick or pull anything she wanted to!
that is what they are for.

3. Are women victims of fear? I am more so now than when I was younger. I have a deep
worry of how I will face being alone if it should happen that way. Dark is my fear. I have
never feared woods. I would not shop alone at night unless I was forced to, but I feel I
could conquer what ever I had to and cope.

Dorothys area of Vermont and all east coast areas is very foreign to me. I have lived for
a bit in California while a child and the rest has been spent in the Midwest. I would love
for you to take pictures of your area, Deanne. I loved the pic of you and Doug. We do
not have those kinds of rocks here.

4. Caretakers Guilt. Once again I can identify. I apologize about everything in the garden
and it follows through to my house and cooking. My daughter once told me if I wouldnt
point out the flaws, no one would be aware. What would we do without our brilliant

5.Things we keep trying (and failing at). For me it is delphiniums. They are not the best
plant for my area of the country but they are so gorgeous. What I would give for a large
bed of them! I succeeded with a few plants a couple of years ago that returned for me and
even re bloomed in the fall...............but not that huge bed or plot of them you all can
grow. I threatened to absolutely stop trying, but my sis brought me a few of hers and I
was off and running again. You cant keep a good gardener down.

6.The Pond Dorothy Built. I am so farm oriented that I cant imagine spending good
resources for something that doesnt water livestock! If I had unlimited funds, who
knows what I could get up to.

7.Gardening as we get older....I cant remember who mentioned that at age 50. Well, I am
67 and I am definitely thinking of more shrubs, and grasses. I have never planted
high maintenance plants. I know me too well. Thankfully, I can still bend and crawl and
do most things......except in shorter spurts.

8. Straight line winds and the loss of her woods:

We do have them here, but our serious damage comes from tornadoes. We have never
had a direct hit, but did have one come through the back of the farm. The house caught
the edges of it and the dirt and gravel hit the house at a 45° angle. It was something to
behold and hear. The house has steel siding .... I will say no more.
We were milking then and DH and a helper had run to the cellar and a very large ash tree
toppled across the entrance to the cellar and they had to crawl under it get out. That storm
caused us to loose several trees from the yard.

Loss of other trees.....once again practicality in the life of farms took over. We had new
fencing put in (field fencing) and they had to doze our the fence row. I asked them to go
around a monster Sycamore and hedge apple tree. Such was not to now I can no
longer look out the west window and see those beautiful things. I do have pictures of them,
but it makes me too sad to look at them and everytime I see a Sycamore I think of that tree.

9. The Path. I am not big on paths....too much maintenance. I just garden the yard and my
paths have to allow my riding mower access....thats it for paths. I love the way they
look, but too much maintenance for my world. I do think it is very typical that she didnt
use it. I dont know any gardeners who sit still for very long. I look at something and
think...that needs water or that needs deadheading or I see something across the way I
dont recognize and I am off. Now DH can sit for hours....I think that is a great quality,
wish I had it. I can read, I can knit, I can watch some TV, but that is the extent of my
sitting. I know that so I dont create those charming little areas that everyone talks so
much about.

10. What have I done that failed? Since I dont do many large projects, nothing comes to

11. Wildflower Garden. I love the idea of them and seeing them, but when I read that the land
must be cleared, smoothed, fertilized, planted, rolled, and then mowed on a regular basis,
I thought that wasnt for me. Silly me....I thought you just tossed out seeds and let
mother nature have her way.

I do have areas in the pastures that some years will have beautiful wild flowers; here
mostly asclepias, daisies, ironweed, asters, and the odd sunflower (from birds). I have
even mowed in zig zags around them with the brush hog! DH thinks I am crazy. When we
quit having cattle, I have a faint hint of an idea to pick a small, 7-acre field and let mother
nature have her way and see what develops. Of course, you would still have to cut thorn
tree and hedge tree sprouts on a regular who knows.

The fuchsias was a very funny story. I absolutely love her relationship with her husband.
They seem to be polar opposites in many things yet they are sustaining a very good
marriage. That, too, reminds me of my own. We have been married 45 years and he
couldnt identify a single plant....well, maybe a ripe tomato.
I once had him use the scythe around the edge of the garden and when I checked later, he
had cut down a young nectarine tree. Needless to say, I do not ask him to help anymore.
He might water OK......but I am not real sure. What he does is give me my space....I dont
call to his attention when I spend money for plants....but then he doesnt ask either. We
each do our own thing.....nor does he ask that I be in the same room with him at all times
as does my FIL. Great Gods, I would choke to death. He watches television in the lr and
I read in the kitchen in my "nook".

Another thought on the path and resting areas. I think that is what is a very common
quality in gardeners and that is why we like is never finished, so your mind
and heart is always leaping ahead to the next thing...the next season. We can never be
bored. We dont have time to least during daylight hours.

12. Her mothers stroke. Deja vu. My mother had several mini strokes before she had her
massive one. What a nightmare. We were still milking (if you have never dairied, you
cant appreciate what a time-consuming thing it is). My sis came down from Ia and
insisted we put her in a nursing home. Mother had always said never, never did she want
to be in one, but then, who would. I just knew I could find a way to care for her, but it
never happened. Then our government would not pay for any at home help for a relative.
What a short-sighted idea!! I was always thankful that she just lasted a few months. I did
insist she be put in the small town one near the farm and I visited her everyday and
sometimes twice. That experience was a nightmare that I dont want to get into. I was
like Dorothy and her "way" with her mothers doctors. I periodically would let off steam
and put my foot down in a very firm manner with the administration. Probably didnt help,
but I felt better.

Loss of woods vs. loss of farmland. This comment came from woodyoak. That is my
feeling exactly. In Iowa where my sis lives some of the best farms are being taken over by
developments. Near us there is land that no one ever has reverted to thorn trees,
hedge apples and multiflora rose (thank you, extension people). The next step will be a
bulldozer. It makes me crazy. About the only thing you can neglect like that is woods,
deep woods.

I did see a piece on PBS about pioneer women of Canada and was so impressed with
them. One woman moved to her land with only an ax and her dogs. She could only get
to it via a small hydro-plane or boat. I cant imagine that isolation, but I do admire their

Sorry to ramble on, but wanted to catch up.

You can just ignore this long thing if you want. I hesitated to post at all because I usually
dont look for hidden meanings when I read. I never was good at poetry, because if the
author said he was a tree; to me he was a tree. I just take things pretty much literally. It
has been very interesting to me to hear how others have interpreted this book. It gave me
insight. Thank you.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 8:55AM
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Gldno, Happy you joined us, and hope that Mary is inspired by your arrival !

Just wanted to comment on your remarks about your DH and the TV room versus reading room. This is exactly how my DH and I conducted our evenings- He watched TV in the family room and I had my stereo and books in the living room. We would "visit" each other periodically

I am always a little envious of those of you who have land. We have a loss of farmland out here too, but in Napa County there are very tight growth restrictions because our economy IS wine , and has to be protected. Unfortunately the by-product of this is ungodly expensive land prices.

Delphiniums ! What I go through for them ! Our climate serves them well , but the snails just love them.. I do whatever I need to do, because I would not like to be without delphiniums. Many a snail has met its demise by being thrown out into the middle of the street or dashed against the fence.

Will check in again later !

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 8:44PM
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vtskiers(z6a CentralCT)

" I hesitated to post at all because I usually
dont look for hidden meanings when I read. I never was good at poetry, because if the
author said he was a tree; to me he was a tree. I just take things pretty much literally."

Gldno1, you are a woman after my own


    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 8:48PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Gldno1, almost everything you posted could have been posted by me. I am amazed that we have so much in common, and I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that we now live in similar conditions. I am basically a northwesterner, having grew up in Idaho .... and spent over half of my life there.

I haven't read this book, but did attempt to get it from the local libraries. The library in Harrison wanted 25 dollars for the renewal of my card, since I live in a differant county( it is a new policy). The small library in Jasper doesn't have it. But I am learning so very much about you all from these reports, and enjoying all the wisdom shared here.

I might have been able to find it in a book store, but am rather busy with Nolon's health problems now.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 9:12PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

What hidden meanings? Are we talking about the same book? I missed them all....

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 11:39PM
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Terra Firma at last. Finished the book this afternoon and remember what I read.

It's been amazing reading and rereading along with all of you.

I'm somewhere between literal and figuritive, but the thing I carried away from this book is: None of Us Are Alone. She bought the house to provide a place of peace for "her." But "we" could've been in her shoes at any point. It is a comfort to me to know that this passion I have and foster isn't exclusive.

My Dad lived in the Pittsfield, MA area during his youth and every summer our family would descend on the Berkshires for a quick tour of his family's homes. My Grandfather wasn't much into staying in one place for long, so they lived in several different towns in several different venues.

The one constant for my Dad growing up was the mountain just between Pittsfield and the northern border. It was hit by a tornado and/or straight line depending on who you listen to -- it was probably both -- and it took out the forested southern side of the mountain. Narrowly missing a fairgrounds, it bounced around and finally disappeared from radar at the New York line.

The first time my father saw the damage, he stopped cold and said "I'm glad it wasn't a human that did that or they'd be in some serious trouble around here." That about summed it up for me. There are things we can't control and nature is one of them.

Dorothy's money was apparent from the start. It's something I don't have and I've often wondered how much money I could really spend on gardening without buying new land. Part of the charm is sharing plants and Dorothy enjoys that as well, but where those plants go was basically built for her. The jury is still out on this one -- ask me again when I turn 50. LOL

And the obvious (stop reading here, Sue ;-) I will forever associate this book with a surgery that is already having a positive effect on my outlook and physical well-being. Dorothy put a lot into perspective for me, but Most Importantly reminded me that things take time. On to Year 3 of our park!


    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 6:33PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

The Little Houses chapter was very pertinent at the moment given that Im in the process of having a little house of my own built (i.e. the new shed!) I suspect the little girl next door to us will find it attractive if it turns out as nice as I hope it will. I know that her parents would like to replace their rather unattractive metal shed so maybe our new shed will prompt them to upgrade theirs too. This fall they have built a new big bed along the fence to match the one on our side it makes both beds look bigger! Becky is very interested in gardening and has gradually been increasing the size of the beds in their yard. Since there is only a chain link fence between the two gardens, they merge quite nicely together. We get to view their shed so I wouldnt mind a bit if my new little house prompts a similar one in their yard!

I found that the book when downhill at the Fred chapter. There is clearly a lot of unresolved animosity between mother and daughter. Given that the author is a psychologist, I did wonder why she would have included this chapter. You could feel all the prickly emotions on both sides and it seemed inappropriate to air them in the book. I doubt that the relationship improved any after the daughter read that chapter! Combined with the end of The Spring chapter, the end of the book seemed like a bid for sympathy [Pity me Im getting old and heavy and my daughter is being difficult] and, while we all feel in need of sympathy at times, it seemed jarring in the context of an otherwise enjoyable book about making a garden. Im being a little harsh in my comments I know, but I really did feel that the final chapters spoiled the mood of the rest of the book. I may look for some of her other books though.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 11:38AM
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Hello Idyll Book Club

Kathy this was an absorbing read, and reading everyones responses to the book has been an additional treat. Coming from a psychotherapy background I enjoyed the authors gentle insight into her own experiences, relationships and garden, and it was certainly a book that made me think. I couldnt say I was looking for hidden meaning, but my thoughts were often sent off in new directions, for me always an indication of a rewarding book. I also ended up with a great liking for the author, and couldnt help thinking how much fun it would be if she joined in our conversations. Many of her observations and experiences rang so true I felt as if she were talking about aspects of my life, but I felt one great difference, more of which later.

Ive been thinking a lot these past days about my own invisible garden and hadnt realized till now just how rich it is. I grew up in a family of avid gardeners, my mother a Botanist and father a Plant Pathologist. My earliest memories center around our time in the garden. The French windows from our living room opened out into the enclosed back garden which was always my favorite place to be. I played outside with my 3 siblings just about every day (gum boots and rain jackets were at the ready for the more frequent than not rain). One of my strongest memories is of my sisters and my attempts to make perfume. We just couldnt understand why mashing flower petals into water resulted in a fetid brown concoction rather than the delightful scents we were trying to recreate from my mothers dresser. Ive brought seed over from many of the plants in our family garden, and seeing them take on a new life over here gives me enormous pleasure and a constant reminder of the home and people I love.

In the Invisible Garden I enjoyed the passages about Dorothys Grandfather, which in turn brought up many memories of my own maternal Grandpa. Grandad was born to a very poor family in Kent, England. Life was harsh his 3 sisters died of TB at a time when it considered a disease of poverty and shame, and something he was never able to talk about. In the autumn he was woken at dawn and sent out into the woods to search for mushrooms, which he sold in the village before school. At 11 he left school and was sent to work cleaning boots and helping in the garden at the large manor house in the village. One of his jobs was to place canvas covers over the horses hooves and lead them to pull the lawn mower. The hoof covers prevented leaving hoof prints in the pristine lawn. There was little warmth and affection in his early life, but what did develop was a love of nature and plants. He also met the love of his life, my Grandmother, who as a young girl had been sent into service in a nearby grand house.

My Grandparents moved to London where they lived in a tiny house with a tiny square of concrete and outside toilet instead of a back yard. My Grandfather gardened on an allotment, providing much needed food especially during the shortages of food and rationing during WW2. When we were growing up my Grandparents were regular visitors and we adored seeing them. Grandad was never idle, there was always a row of beans he wanted to put in, or a little pruning that needed doing in our garden. At times a quiet man, my mother said her best conversations with him when they were outside, digging side by side. As children we used to love to run our fingers over his calloused hands.

Grandad was in his 80s when my Grandmother passed away. He moved from the house they had raised their children to a small ground floor flat with its own garden. For the first time in his life Grandad had his own space to garden, and he loved every inch of it. He won a prize for the Best New Garden in London, something that gave him enormous pride. Despite being nearly crippled by arthritis in his later years his tiny garden remained his pride and joy. There were times when he trimmed the minute lawn with scissors. I think of him often as I dig in the garden, imagining how much he would enjoy seeing the variety of plants growing there. And I know that within an hour of a visit he would have a fork in hand, helping out and sharing the joys of gardening.

Well, rather than babble on endlessly, Ill come back in another post with some of my other thoughts on the book. Woody - I had quite a bit to add on the "Fred" chapter.

To be continued.....


    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 11:57AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

I have more I'd like to add as well but not much time.

I agree Woody, that the later chapters were very different from the early ones, but I do not feel they were any the less interesting for being less obviously about gardening. I agree too that publishing about her daughter was an unusual thing to do, but she did do it... If you consider that the book really is about the author's growth as a result of her action of buying the property, the daughter's situation and progress does become a filling out of the author's more extended life. That section adds to the workings of her mind, like it or not. I must say that I read this book at a time when my own very difficult son was surfacing from some pretty dark stuff and so I found the blending of child rearing with gardening a very pertinent combination and topic... as I did comments on her mother's death. Even the author's husband bore resemblances to my own. I also drew parallels (right or wrong) between her work as a psychotherapist with my work as an adult literacy teacher and ESL teacher. I was certainly in no position to be critical of her doings, just a very curious observer. And so I was quite content with that change in mood the end of the book brought, but I can easily see that others who expected it to be strictly on gardening would find it tedious. I don't know what I will feel when I finally get the chance to read it again because I am no longer the same person or at the same stage of life.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 1:30PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

This is such an interesting thread.I am so thankful that it was started.(Thank you Kathy.) I must try to find this book.
I look forward to future reports, and hope the interest doesn't wane.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 1:56PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I think what grated on me in the Fred chapter was that her tone seemed very negative with respect to her daughter. The quote she included from her daughter was a pretty clear statement in my mind at least that her daughter objected to her story being included. While the story is also her mothers, there is a definite power imbalance that the mother has a platform to tell her version of the story while the daughter doesnt. Clearly the daughter must have gone through some sort of trauma as well as had unresolved relationship issues with the mother/author.

One way to see Fred is as a symbol of the daughter. Fred is presented as a weak tree planted in an inappropriate spot that survives somewhat unexpectedly, partly due to lots of care by the author who then uproots it and moves it to a spot that the daughter had not chosen or approved of. Perhaps that is an accurate description of the daughter and the relationship to the mother, but its not one that one would expect the daughter to look favorably on would be unlikely to improve the relationship between them! And its not flattering to either of them.

I have no problem with a story of a garden including the story of the garden maker(s), but this particular aspect of the story seemed to be told with less compassion. I found myself going back and revising (negatively) my initial impressions of her relations with other family members in light of the Fred story, some of her comments about her husband seemed less amusing and more derogatory. The inclusion and tone of the Fred story suddenly made her sound manipulative to me and I found that jarring. I think she could have included the Fred story but told it in a much less slanted way. The Fred story introduced a new subtext to the whole book that changed my reaction to all that had gone previously. And, given the authors profession, I wondered why she included that story, told in such a way. (Perhaps my reaction reflects some psychological dirty laundry of my own:-)

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 2:46PM
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Greetings All!

Im so glad you all enjoyed reading this book together, a reading group of just regular non-gardening people may have not been able to identify so well with Dorothys triumphs and failures in the garden. Weve all been there one way or another.

Martie, you bring up an interesting point on the money issue. I know many gardeners here who have seemingly no budgetary constraints, and can basically do whatever they wish, whenever they wish..since my garden is small I have the ability to budget for it , but only so far. I often dream up very grandiose plans I would execute if I had the funds. Instead I modify these plans to fit in with my budget.

I was always a little envious of friends I knew as a child who had "playhouses". My vision of the perfect Little House now involves a porch-like Dorothys, windows, and a small greenhouse attached.

My initial reaction to the Fred chapter was a bit different from some of you---I found Norah to be a wholly unsympathetic character- self-absorbed and unfriendly. I would never let one of my children talk me into planting something in the wrong location , and in any case I think they would defer to my experience and not insist on a bad plant decision. I guess Dorothy did not want to rock the boat. Having said that, Dorothy wrote the Fred chapter and must know how unflattering it was to Norah. Is this why you found it manipulative Woody ?

One thing that I often lost sight of while reading is the fact that this garden was for the most part, a vacation home . This was not their primary residence , and this really makes Dorothy something of a part-time gardener. Could you ever envision yourself as apart-time gardener? Not me. If I had two houses, Id have two gardens.

Maryglad you posted ! And you story of your Grandfather was wonderful, thanks for sharing it with us.

As we continue to discuss this book I am pondering what we might like to read next. I have a couple of ideas, but am wondering if any of you would like to put forth a suggestion ? I am still favoring the idea of not starting our new book till after Christmas-I will have company and Im sure many of you will too-it gets pretty hectic and want this to be a leisurely read, not a stressful one .

Be back tomorrow !
Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 9:01PM
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See, this is exactly what I meant about you all opening up new perspectives and interpretations. How interesting.

Her daughter: I saw that she gave her daughter an opportunity to participate in the Fred story and her daughter was very negative about it. Of course it would have been interesting if Dorothy had let her write her own version of it for us to read, but I am betting it would have totally led us astray from the original intent of the book. Obviously they have "issues".

My own literalness (is that a word?) didn't see if there was a correlation between the difficult tree and the difficult daughter.

I found nothing disturbing about her including the remarks about her husband or daughter. I could make some pretty disparaging remarks about mine, but I love them completely.
I call that realism which is what really drew me to Dorothy.

Just my thoughts, not right or wrong, which what makes reading so wonderful.

Either before or after the Holidays is fine, but please post the name of the book as soon as possible so we will have time to locate it and have time for shipping. Thanks, this is lots of fun.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 6:46AM
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Fred. I needed to read that chapter a few times to be sure I was reading correctly. The correlation between the tree and daughter seemed to overwhelm Dorothy. My guess that she would've been willing to do most anything to keep the peace, but what about telling her mid-twenties daughter to grow up a bit? It made the read prickly, and while I understand her needing to include the story (don't we all have parts of the garden that we've done to relieve anxiety???) I wish it hadn't been the focus of an entire chapter. Too much information ....

Ah, the little house. My maternal grandfather was the fruit grower of the family and owned a large estate in New Jersey. He converted an old chicken coop into a jam making factory since my grandmother didn't want the steam taking the wallpaper off the kitchen walls. I hadn't thought about that coop in a long time, and it brought back a ton of great memories of learning to pit everything from cherries to peaches and learning to enjoy "exotic" fruit like fig at an early age.

Whatever is chosen next will be ordered, here. This is fun!


    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 7:05AM
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veronicastrum(z5 IL)

I had to stop reading the thread last night because I had just started reading the Fred chapter and didn't want to spoil it. While it does sound like Nora has issues, I think that Dorothy may have some control issues. After all, it was her idea in the first place that her daughter should plant a tree. Then she disagreed with the choice of tree and the placement of tree, was irritated that Nora was using "her good shovel" and seemed unhappy that she had to fuss over the tree for many years. And then she points out that the tree after all was in the wrong spot, because it was the only logical place to put a garage. Of course, when Nora planted the tree there was no plan to build a garage.

So while Nora may not be the best child in the world, I did not exude sympathy for Mom, either.

I did have to smile over her "Fred is dead" declaration. Back when I was in college, a friend and I went out with a group of her brother's friends, one of whom we dubbed "Dead Fred" becuase he was very quiet. I ended up dating Dead Fred for about six months. He was a nice guy, but then two stubborn wills clashed and I knew that there was no long term future in the relationship. Even when he tried to win me back with a Siberian huskie...

I still have more to say (can you believe it!) but I will post this and yak more later.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 4:02PM
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Hello friends,
Just wanted to pop in and say how much I have enjoyed reading everyones comments on the book.

Since I procrastinated to long on getting the book ordered (our library didn't have it) I couldn't read along. But hope to read it someday.

I have enjoyed everyones views, and especially enjoyed the relating of family and friends stories and backgrounds. I find it all interesting. Sincerely, Norma

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 8:14PM
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My book, ordered October 30th via Amazon's sellers still has not arrived which irks me to no end. I'm hoping that if another book is chosen, that there will be enough time between the listing of the title and media mail's slower than molasses delivery time (21 days---today is 20 days)..... :oP on the seller!! Not sure if the USPS needs a raspberry face too or not....... ;oP


    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 8:39PM
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Hi everyone, I am posting a couple of suggestions now for our next book, I'm thinking some of you had a hard time getting the last one so we should give ample time. I think we may have actually caused a run on the Invisible Garden at Amazon with so many of us ordering at once !

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. I read this a few years ago and absolutely loved it, would really enjoy reading it again. It takes place on Corfu and is memior .It's 288 pages, a little longer than our current book.

Growing Season-A Healing Journey into the Heart of Nature by
Arlene Bernstein. This book is only maybe 160 pages, and somewhat obscure, but I see that Amazon has it. You might like to go there and read the description. My concern is that it may be difficult to come by.

Second Nature by Micheal Pollan , 320 pages . This is Pollans story of his gardening education.

Some of you may have already read these , but might find it fun to re-read and discuss with other gardeners. any thoughts ???
Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 10:06PM
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veronicastrum(z5 IL)

Kathy, I've read Second Nature and would really enjoy discussing it with this group. That would be my vote!


    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 8:56AM
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david_5311(Z 5b/6a SE Mich)

Second Nature is a fabulous, funny, insightful book which every gardener and nature lover should read (especially those who believe that purple loosestrife and kudzu should be left to their own devices to take over the world, and that man should never intervene on behalf of gardeners do every day in their own plots). Beautifully written too. I'd participate in that one, though, maybe better to do something I haven't read.

Anyway, I know the group would love that book. Fast reading too.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 3:04PM
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