During the summer I would wake up to clusters of dark pink on the crape myrtle outside my bedroom window. Because my house is above the ground I get the birds’ perspective up in the branches. It’s my favorite thing about the house. The first time I walked into the room I knew that my bed would face that window.
Recently we woke up to fluttering shadows from the west-facing window (there is a double window and a single in our room). When we opened the curtain there were migrating monarchs outside feeding on my neighbor’s loquat tree. One by one they came soaring in from the nearby oak trees. We watched until they all left to continue their journey.
Currently the main attraction has been the changing foliage of the crape myrtle. It is spectacular. Every picture I try to take does not capture the glow of the intense orange. At this time of year I tend to hear the complaints that in Northwest Florida we do not have any fall foliage to be seen (My crape myrtle’s lovely foliage begs to differ). They say we do not have “seasons” here. These seeming “distinctive” seasons are found in only certain areas of the world. Places located in the tropics do not have snow-covered hills, but there are still changes in the weather and flora at certain times of the year. It may be a lot of rain, wind coming from a different direction for a time period; nonetheless there are changes, which classify it as a season.
This Floridian can definitely feel the seasons changing. The cooler weather has led me to many cups of hot tea and reading novels on these cooler nights. Lately I have been reading a novel from my “garden books” list. I am weird about how I choose what books I would like to read. I tend to fall in love with an author’s style of writing, then read everything they have ever written, and then I’m forced to find someone else to obsess about. I usually read more non-fiction, mostly about gardening or yoga, but every now and again I like a good fiction novel. Although, I still want the setting to be in the garden and I couldn’t really find a “garden fiction” section at any book store I’ve ever visited or on Amazon. I did some searching through trusty Google and found someone who was kind enough to share their favorite garden writing books (instead of the typical how-to stuff) on a garden forum.
It was a long list. I was so excited about finding this list I was giddy. I looked up every single book and made myself a consolidated list of books that I MUST read. So far I’ve read “The Lost Garden” by Helen Humphreys,“Merry Hall” by Beverley Nichols, “Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden” by Eleanor Perenyi, and now I am reading “Night Gardening” by E.L. Swann. Don’t worry, I plan on sharing each book with you (if it’s worth reading) as I read them. The list I just gave you should keep you busy for a while.
“Night Gardening” is a short fiction novel about a sixty-one year old woman recovering from a stroke and her neighbor’s very handsome also in his sixties landscape architect. Most of the book takes place in the garden at night. I won’t lie to you. This book is every woman gardener’s fantasy. “Fifty Shades of Grey” for the gardener you could say, but written with an elegance and an emphasis on the connection of two people passionate about gardening.
While I do enjoy a good love story that has not been the thing that lingers in my mind after I have closed the book for the evening. When I read about them walking through the garden in the moonlight I am envious. My garden is not accessible at night. Being new homeowners it tends to be more of a construction zone rather than a place for strolling along pathways. It made me realize that I have not done much gardening in the last six months. My greenhouse is rather empty. I have seeds still in packets waiting to be sown. I stopped making time for my garden other than to water. This book has made me want to get my hands dirty once again.
Another something I have been lacking that this book has brought to my attention is that I don’t have a favorite area of my garden. In the novel it reads:
Tristan had sensed that the step gardens, for one reason or another, were to Maggie the heart of the garden. He wasn’t sure why. Perhaps there was no specific reason. With real gardeners—and he had no doubt after these past hours with Maggie that she was anything but just that—there was usually one place where their soul and that of the garden’s met. The step gardens were that place for her.
I know that it will come to me in time. But doesn’t this passage make you just stop and think, “Where is that place for me?” Obviously for me the place closest to my heart in the house is my bedroom. But what about in the garden? Something to ponder…
Working in my field you tend to spend more time thinking about your client’s gardens rather than your own. However, the other night I did something I surprisingly have not done in a couple of years. As I was lying in bed, instead of trying to sleep, my thoughts were in the garden. I was fantasizing about how I hope it to look someday when its construction finally comes to an end. I used to do this a lot. When I knew we were going to buy this house I went to bed every night beginning at one point in the yard and along the way imagining what I would put there. I never could get to the end of the pathway. By then I was in a garden slumber.
It feels good to be dreaming about my garden again. This book has reminded me that even though my career is within the gardening world, I still need to remember myself the gardener who should always be fantasizing about what to grow in the garden.