Have you ever been out with a friend, and another person joins you, who is a good friend of your friend, but you don’t know them? And the two of them start talking about people you don’t know, and even though the conversation is mildly interesting (this one had a baby, that one has a new job), after a while you feel bored and a little left out.
I’m sorry to say that’s how I felt reading Beautiful at All Seasons by Elizabeth Lawrence, the April/May selection of the Garden Bloggers Book Club. It kind of surprised me, as I believe I’d already read all her other books, including Two Gardeners (her correspondence with Katharine White), and No One Gardens Alone (her biography)–and enjoyed them all.
I particularly enjoyed The Little Bulbs: A Tale of Two Gardens, which compared the bulbs blooming in her garden with those of Mr. Krippendorf, her northern gardening friend. Carl Krippendorf planted thousands of daffodils at Lob Woods, and it was very interesting to read about the differences in the two gardens.
And I found Gardening for Love: The Market Bulletins fascinating. As best I can tell, market bulletins were a kind of newspaper farmers subscribed to. Many farmers’ wives sold plants in the ad section, and Lawrence not only purchased plants from them, but corresponded with many. These women were often dirt poor, living isolated lives way out in the sticks, but loved plants and went through great trouble to preserve their passalongs. This book is as much social history as horticultural adventure.
Beautiful at All Seasons just didn’t hold my attention the way so many of her other books did. I hope that doesn’t stop you from reading it, because I’m sure any Southerner would get a lot out of it, or anyone who hadn’t yet read much of Lawrence’s writing.