Saturday, 8 November 2014

Digging Up Paradise

I have finally got round to reading from start to finish Sarah Salway's Digging Up Paradise: Potatoes, People and Poetry in the Garden of England (I've been dipping into it up to this point). If you live in Kent you will read about garden treasures that you didn't know about; and if you are thinking of visiting Kent you will discover delights to add to your itinerary; and if you aren't thinking of visiting Kent, this book will make you want to.

It's a charming scrapbook of essays, poetry and writing prompts that drew me in and sent me wandering down green paths that refresh and comfort and inspire -- so for me it was a lot like a walk in a real live garden.

There are plenty of ways to understand a garden and plenty of ways for a visitor to communicate their experience -- you can list the plants and seethe because you can't get them to take in your own garden. You can slip in at dawn to take photographs. You can sketch the designs or the plants themselves. You can use what you've seen to re-create the experience in your own garden. You can examine the layers of history, write the stories of the owners, their staff and their influences. Lots of different ways to respond, and most of them done and done again. But Sarah's meditative walks and patient observations have produced something fresh and fascinating that will continue to delight me for a long time to come.

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