Tovah Martin sets the scene for The Garden in Every Sense and Season with this opening statement “I have learned that unless you consciously experience your garden, you might be blind to its beauty. And if you don’t listen, it will remain mute.” She spends the book teaching the reader amazing things about our gardens, things we can experience with no more than observation.
Broken into each season, she describes beautifully how each of the five senses takes them in. For example: “Spring is no season for the faint of heart, on any level. It bursts. It throbs. It reverberates with the affirmation of life. It’s all about purposeful excess. If we’re going to have a growing season, spring has to hit the ground running. So it makes perfect sense that yellow predominates in spring.” and “True blue isn’t often found in the garden. In the natural realm, cobalt blossoms are scarce. Instead, we usually get purples and mauves. But not in spring. This is the season when all the azure, indigo, cerulean, and sailor shades come out of the closet.”
It is jam-packed full of gardening wisdom, so much I couldn’t include all of my favourite lines, they are too numerous! I loved every minute of this book and spent time digesting each segment and going out and experiencing my own garden afresh. Here are five of my favourites:
“The intensity of their fragrance is affects by whether you grow your daffodils in full sun or partial shade. The soil in which your daffodils are anchored can also make a difference. Even the temperatures can affect how much aroma each flower pumps out. Those inputs often sway scent and its production. Just like we are what we eat, flowers are the sum total of their incoming data. So visit lots of daffodils at all times of day, and be inquisitive.”
“But when working with nature, chilling out leads to incredible collaborations. You have to leave openings to let the unexpected happen…The foxgloves went wild long ago, much to everyone’s delight. Again, that began intentionally with some foxglove purchases, but seedlings took the invitation and ran with it into all the right places.”
“Any garden is best framed by some sky. For those of us with fanatical collecting tendencies, this becomes critical. You need some opportunities to catch your breath in a garden. Pathways and brief expanses of lawn or stonework help to define negative space, but if all else fails, the sky can form a border. Factor it in when you’re designing a garden. Think about it when you’re pruning up trees and shrubs. Send the eye up there and let it dwell on silhouettes. Reflect the azure breathing space down to your feet with shallow pools, rills and ponds.”
“Dragonflies and damselflies do a whole different zoom. They sound like little sports cards revving their engines as they dart around. They need a nearby body of water (my swampy pond is their ideal) in which to rear a family. Preferably, it should have shelves of soil and upright aquatic plants standing along the edges for egg-laying and resting purposes. And another plus is that dragonflies and damselflies consume quantities of mosquitoes. Meanwhile, these helicopter impersonators are a riot to watch.”
“A straightforward grassy path sends a walk-this-way message for a quit gait. Stepping stones would slow the pace.”
The book is also full of beautiful imagery – I just love the goats, they have big characters!
Wrapping up, Tovah concludes “This book is about how you come to link with you lands on all levels, however you can make that happen. It is very individual, it is very deep, and it can mean the world.” I highly recommend this book, it is by far the best gardening book I’ve read. Five out of five, I’d give more if I could! If you love poetic descriptions and gardens, read it now!
From the back cover:
So much of gardening is focused on the monthly checklists, seasonal to-do lists, and daily upkeep—weed this area, plant these seeds, prune this tree, rake these leaves, dig this hole—frantically done all year long. But what about taking the time to truly enjoy the garden in every sense? In The Garden in Every Sense and Season does just that. Beginning the heady blooms of spring and closing with putting the garden to bed in winter, Tovah Martin mindfully explores her garden through sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste. She sees the bright yellow daffodils of spring, smells summer’s pungent roses, hears the crows in autumn, and tastes winter’s juicy citrus. In 100 evocative essays, Martin shares sage garden advice and intimate reflections on her own garden. The Garden in Every Sense and Season, from one of the greatest garden writers of our time, urges gardeners to inhale, savor, and become more attuned with their gardens.
With thanks to NetGalley and Timber Press for this advanced copy