still more winter

Greetings and salutations, everyone; once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to bring you the latest news from our snow-covered garden. You may remember me from such outstanding, and –dare I say it?–brilliant posts like “Out Came The Sun” and “Invasion Of The Pods”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. I’m telling the guy I live with to stop trying to take my picture and get on with our walk, which we did right after that, so I think my impatience bore fruit. 010501It’s still really snowy outside, as you can see from this picture taken from the upstairs bedroom window. Those two dark things in upper left center, in the Wasatch maples (Acer grandidentatum) are squirrels, huddling against the cold, which it is. 010502Even though our walk this morning, in the snow, was completely excellent, it’s pretty boring right now. There are only so many places you can find in the house that are perfect for just lying around and being in the way, and I’ve found most of them. I lie on the kitchen floor, or rather, on the rug on the kitchen floor, a lot now, so I can both be close to the guy I live with, and in the way at the same time. This is what I understand they call multitasking.

Well, so, being bored and all, there isn’t much to talk about, and the guy I live with suggested I show some pictures of some of his favorite books. He and my mommy loved books, and the house is full of them. Here are some of his. Let’s start with the books on rock gardening first. With at least one of these, he just looks at the pictures.

This first one is pretty incredible, he says.rock gardens and their construction

rock gardens and their construction
plants for the alpine house

plants for the alpine house

rock gardens. ideas, possibilities, construction

rock gardens. ideas, possibilities, construction

010511And a three volume book on cactus. It took him a long time to find all three volumes.010512He says this one by Graham Stuart Thomas is delightful. It tell you how to use a besom in the garden. Standing at right angles, with back bent, that is. And “on a windless day, with supple back, merrily go the leaves”. It doesn’t say merrily go the pods, though.010514This is a besom, if you didn’t know. It’s really a Japanese broom, but same idea.010517Here’s one by G.S.T. that you don’t often see available. 010519Some other books.  He told me that when he and my mommy first started living together (like, the week after they met, or something), they would go on dates to Tattered Cover and buy books. Most of the books in the house were hers; after she died, he gave away his library of “serious literature” figuring he’d gotten all he could out of the books, but kept the gardening books. He says the old ones are fun to collect. He says he just learned that this is called a “shelfie”. 010523The guy I live with says this is the hardest to find of the three volumes of E.A. Bowles’s “My Garden” series, and he found it. This is the first American edition, printed in England.010504A first, or maybe second edition. (The guy I live with doesn’t care that much.)010510

010508Not a first edition. Horrors.010509


A couple of firsts by “easily” his favorite garden writer.

010520Among the Hills might be a second edition, or impression. “It matters not a whit” says the guy I live with. I don’t think I know what a whit is. He forgot to take a picture of Rainbow Bridge, which he just found a copy of, but a second impression. 010521


010522The Dolomites. (Well, it says “Dolomites” right there on the cover, doesn’t it?)010505


010507And lastly, his all time favorite gardening book. He says it’s so funny he read passages out loud to my mommy and the two of them collapsed with laughter. You know, like when something is so funny it hurts. I don’t laugh that much, because, well, because there isn’t that much funny stuff around here. Not funny ha-ha anyway. 010516Well, um, this took a lot of time to do, and wasn’t that interesting to me, so I don’t really know what to say. It’s snowing outside, or no, maybe it stopped, but it’s really white and bright, and so we’re staying inside, doing pretty much nothing. I’m very good at that, too, so I’ll close with a picture of me doing next to nothing.010518


Until next time, then.

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16 Responses to still more winter

  1. Deborah S. Farrell says:

    Lots of blue in this entry (making My Garden in Autumn and Winter seem out of place) — a nice counterpoint to the red of yesterday’s entry. The temp should drop here sometime soon, changing the rain to snow; but the Weather Channel is reporting from central Indiana, where it’s been snowing hard all day. As long as the power doesn’t go out, I see this cold as a good thing for killing some of the pests (e.g., mosquitoes) that didn’t die back the way they should have the last couple years due to unseasonably mild winters. I find your snow scenes very soothing. I like the snow brightness. Imagine in-the-way-ness times 3. It’s a veritable obstacle course here. Yet I admire the skill of maximizing being in the way at the same time as I’m annoyed by it, when it comes to dogs. With shoppers & their shopping carts, I’m just annoyed by it. Always.

    • paridevita says:

      He just wanted to show the Bowles because it’s so hard to find. Lying in the way is what we dogs like to do best, after walks and food, of course. The guy I live with can barely get the refrigerator door open most of the time, which I maintain is good for his waistline. Warm air blows out the bottom of the refrigerator, which is nice. He almost never gets mad at me, though, because I was my mommy’s dog, and we’re buddies anyway. He was somewhat disturbed by the flatus last night, but I think it’s due to the goofballs, because it began after I started taking them. “Just what I need for a good night’s sleep”, he said, “loud snoring and the bedroom filling up with gas.” He also objects, mildly I must say, to having to sleep on my paws, which he says is a sure sign of hogging the bed. Snow is okay, he says, if it knows enough to go away after a while. “And by ‘a while’, I don’t mean three months.” I like it.

      • Deborah S. Farrell says:

        Even though none of the dogs I live with is on goof balls, there’s a gas issue X 3 at night. They aren’t allowed on the bed, but they sleep on the floor next to my side of the bed. The gas emissions were so bad a couple of nights ago I couldn’t stand it. I got up to sleep on the couch, being careful not to step on Sammy, who had very artfully placed himself exactly where I would put my feet to get out of bed. Of course they followed me into the living room.

        At least they don’t snore. Jake, my black and white terrier mix dog, used to sleep under the bed, right under my head, and he snored. It was a very odd sensation. I still miss that little dog.

        Even with the snoring and farting, the dogs I have had the privilege of living with have made me feel more deeply rooted in the world. Same with gardening, but if I had to rank-order, I’d say dogs are #1.

      • paridevita says:

        I agree. Dogs are excellent. My buddy Slipper never slept on the bed, except during the day, and when the guy I live with went to bed, Slipper would sleep at the foot of the bed, “snoring like a cartoon dog”. He whistled sometimes, even.

  2. Kim Bone says:

    I didn’t even bother to read this. But, feel overwhelmed by the beauty of those book…

  3. Janet in Virginia says:

    Your books are beautiful. I will check at my library to see if we have any of these. I am the librarian at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond VA.

  4. I love old garden books, and their covers are usually gorgeous and deliver me into another age. Chess, the guy you live with has a fine collection. I shall have to hunt the Graham Stuart Thomas books, thanks for the photos.
    You have revealed a truth I have long suspected: getting in the way is the aim of some dogs. Dogs with that aim I have lived with in the past, and I always considered the sticking close a compliment: something fun might break out at any moment. Our current dog set are too jaded to share that belief and stay out of the way. The dog beds, however, are traps scattered everywhere especially placed to snare my feet.
    Chess, you are a dog of such character. Impossible to take a bad or inappropriate photo of you, you sweet dog. Also impossible to believe you might emit, uh, flatus, but I have my own dogs to go by, so I’m persuaded you might be so indelicate.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with’s grandfather had a lot of old books and he gets a warm fuzzy feeling with old-book smell. My mommy collected books, too; lots of illustrated children’s books, things like that, and books on bugs. The G.S.T. books are kind of delightfully quaint, according to the guy I live with. Cuttings includes memories of gardeners, and the one of A.T. Johnson is particularly delightful. It makes him sad, too. Oh, the gas. That’s not my fault. The guy I live with occasionally wonders what happens to the oxygen in the house …… but he reminded me that my grandpa Flurry used to sleep in the bed too, when he was really, really old (which the guy I live with hopes I’ll become eventually) …he lived to be 17…..and he was really smelly among other things, and sometimes had to be helped into bed. And he had gas.

  5. Vivian Swift says:

    Oooooooo…thank you for taking the time to photograph these lovely old books. That triptych of covers for that series on Mexican cactus is wonderful, just wonderful, a delightful theme and variation: same composition of text and illustration and white space, but the huge difference in scale makes each book look individualistic yet gives the whole set coherence. That’s what I call great art direction.

    I want to steal that subtitle, A Book of Joy in High Places, and do naughty things with it (in book form). It sounds like a great title for Christian erotica (a big seller these days).

    I must check out your Reginald Farrer. I’ve read a lot of garden books in the past two years and not one has ever, ever come close to making me laugh out loud. The only gardening-related book that makes me smile is the one I bought second-hand in a thrift shop in Pennsylvania called “The Flower Arranger’s Year” (1981) because it is, hands down, the dullest book I’ve ever come across. Driftwood, light-hearted sprays of ivy, and more driftwood…oh, the sins of 1970s gardeners.

    • paridevita says:

      “[Primula allionii] inhabits small shallow grottoes, or outlines the minute crevices of hard rock with its irresistible little tight cushions of ovate leaves, gray-green with the sticky exudation of its glands. Upon these cushions appear for months altogether, on scapes so short as to be imperceptible, glorious great rose-pale flowers, in number from one to six on each rosette. In the shady caves, where neither sun nor rain can penetrate, P. allionii forms enormous cushions a yard and more across, the leaves never dropping, but drying into withered tags along the perpetually elongating trunks, that push out at the end of the current year, while further down their length still linger the capsules of summers bygone and forgotten. In such situations the growth is more luxuriant, and the masses larger; but on the open rock, exposed to some hours of the grilling sunshine of Provence, the serried tight tufts of the Primula are no less thriving and prosperous, though far harder to acquire [i.e., collect by digging up] than in the grottoes, where each trunk plunked away from some pendant hassock may have watched Napoleon pass, will come away with promising white points of new rootage at the base.” From The English Rock Garden by Farrer (1880-1920).

      “Some readers, I know, think this kind of torrent is uncomfortably over-written, but others, and especially the enthusiastic plantsmen among us, revel in Farrer’s evocative range that so successfully conveys his enthusiasm and echoes (or is echoed by) our own. The stunted imaginations of the majority of gardening writers are only too familiar and abundant.” (Christopher Lloyd, The Adventurous Gardener.)

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