Green Thoughts: Garden Bloggers’ Book Club

– Posted in: Book reviews

I had read Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden a few years ago, and thought I might skip reading it for this book club, due to the press of other commitments. But I’m glad I didn’t.

No sooner did I crack the book open, than I came across this:

. . . a writer who gardens is sooner or later going to write a book about the subject–I take that as inevitable. One acquires one’s opinions and prejudices, picks up a trick or two, learns to question supposedly expert judgments, reads, saves clippings, and is eventually overtaken by the desire to pass it all on.

Ha! When that happened to me, I started a blog. And Perenyi’s essays are as opinionated as any blog post, and convey as much of her personality. I come away from her writing, as I do the best garden blogs, feeling that I know her, that she is, in fact, a far-away friend.

And having adopted organic gardening long before most of her contemporaries, she seems more current than her book’s 1981 copyright would have you believe. Even her whine about gardening, “I have reason to believe I belong to a vanishing species. Gardens like mine, which go by the unpleasing name of ‘labor intensive,’ are on their way out . . .” is very contemporary, though no truer today than when she wrote it. (Witness Garden Rant’s manifesto.)

I am so glad I decided to renew my acquaintance. Selfishly, I wondered why she didn’t write another one. After all, she was only 63 at the time. Surely she had more to say. I certainly wish there was more of her garden writing to read.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

Comments on this entry are closed.

CommonWeeder December 10, 2007, 10:17 am

I bought Green Thoughts when it first came out in 1981 and periodically dip into it. It is even good for reading in the summer because after just a heading or two like Lawns ro Seeing Eye I am newly inspired to dash outside and get to work

Diane M. Schuller December 4, 2007, 11:39 am

I’m so glad I read this post. I’ve seen that book, even cracked it open a time or two, but have always ended up with a different one under my arm as I head home from the store. From reading your perspective, I plan to write that down on my to-do list and finally add it to my collection. Thanks for sharing your perspective and for re-reading it!

Diane, Sand to Glass
& Dogs Naturally

Lise November 29, 2007, 2:00 pm

Hello to all you writers who garden and gardeners who write. I’d like to invite you to join in on a little holiday fun and submit an entry for the Holiday Crinkle-Crankle Writing Contest at Dry Ideas. It’s just one sentence using the term crinkle-crankle….
Hope to see you there!

Annie in Austin November 29, 2007, 11:23 am

Eleanor Perényi seems to have left many of us clapping and calling for an encore, hasn’t she!

How’s this for a theory, Kathy – she only does something one time? One semi-autobiographical book, one scholarly biography, one garden book?

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Kathy Purdy November 29, 2007, 7:57 am

Hi, Robin–
I also feel the same tension between writing and gardening. Often when I am gardening (especially weeding) I am writing in my head. I have occasionally taken a clipboard out to the garden with me to jot down my thoughts as they occur.

The quote was from the foreword, and the context was, “I’m no expert, so why am I writing a book on gardening? Because I’m a writer, and I love gardening.” I imagine she did most of the writing in winter, perhaps over a period of years.

Robin (Bumblebee) November 29, 2007, 7:29 am

Hi Kathy,

I may need to pick up the book to see the context of the connection between gardening and writing a book. It seems to me that there is a tension between the two. In the height of summer, I struggle to find time to write. When I am writing, I feel as if I should be gardening.

–Robin (Bumblebee)

Ellis Hollow November 28, 2007, 8:51 pm

Don’t wait until you’re 63 to write your first book, Kathy. You’ve got two or three in you, anyway.

Carol November 28, 2007, 6:48 pm

The sign of a classic book…it remains relevant years later. And a good book leaves the reader wanting more. I’m sensing that everyone would like a bit more of Eleanor’s thoughts on gardening!

Thanks for taking the time to particiate in the book club again!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Mr. McGregor's Daughter November 28, 2007, 2:23 pm

It’s interesting how your perspective changes when you re-read a book. You’re right, she’s as relevant today as when the book was published. It’s too bad there weren’t blogs back then – she would’ve have a great one!