Top of The Reading Stack: Rhapsody in Green

What’s on the top of your reading stack?

I keep a stack of gardening books on my nightstand. Doesn’t every gardener? And on the floor nearby is a basket of seed catalogs and garden magazines. If it isn’t by your bed, maybe your book stack is next to your favorite chair? Regardless of where it is, if you are a gardener, you have one.

I love to dip in and out of these books late in the evening, even at the risk of getting overly excited about some new garden idea or thought and not being able to fall asleep.

On the top of the stack right now is Rhapsody in Green: The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverley Nichols edited by Roy C. Dicks sent to me by Timber Press

Beverley Nichols wrote eight books about gardening and gardens, in addition to many other types of books, and we have Roy Dicks to thank for making them accessible to us today. Dicks has selected bits and pieces of the best of Nichols' garden writings and put them all together in Rhapsody in Green, giving those of us who haven’t read any of Nichols' books a good taste of his writings on all things gardening.

Dicks arranged his selections of Nichols' writing by topic, giving us chapters such as ‘A Cultivated Climate’, ‘Secrets of Success’, and ‘In the Beginning'.

In the chapter 'Who Does Your Garden Grow', I found this quote:

“Every gardener has a strange and romantic tale to tell, if you can worm it out of him – of blue flowers that came up yellow, or of a white lily that sinned in the night and greeted the dawn with crimson cheeks. In the strong heart of every gardener, some wild secret stirs.”

“Wild secrets stir” in every chapter, making Rhapsody in Green a good read, perfect for dipping in and out of, in the waning hours of a day or anytime.

I wonder what gardening books are on other gardeners’ nightstands? My stack varies with the seasons and includes a variety of compilations from several garden writers. For now, though, I think I’ll keep Rhapsody in Green on top. It’s a good addition to my reading world, and has finally introduced me to Beverley Nichols, whose books are now considered classics in garden writing.


  1. Isn't this a lovely book? I had two of Nichols' books about life with cats, but I was delighted to actually win a copy of this book via The Rant. It's perfect bedside reading (which is where mine is, along with two new organic-gardening books written by so-called Canadian icons of gardening. I'll have more to say about them later this spring, I suspect. (not finished them yet.)

  2. Great review. It makes me wanting to read this book too.

  3. I love his writing. Now look what you've done. I have to go buy another book. Great review.

  4. I don't have any books on my nightstand any more! I can't read in bed because of my bifocal condition. But my favorite gardening book and the one I read over and over is "How to Grow More Vegetables than you ever thoght possible on less land than you can imagine" by John Jeavons. I find this to be an indispensible reference.

  5. I own three Beverly Nichols books. He is one of my favorite garden writers. I love his dry humor.

  6. I am so glad you have discovered Beverly Nichols. I haven't read the book you have but I have four others. I have reread a couple of them. All good though. Right now I just finished reading _Bringing Nature Home_ by Douglas W. Tallamy. While I am not a 100% native plant gardener I do think it best to use as many natives in the garden that you can. I can't resist many of the big flowered dazzlers though. I feel I have a good mix. I at least try not to have invasives

  7. I have one of Mary Oliver's collections of poetry. It makes me dream sweet dreams at night.

  8. I heard Roy Dicks speak about Beverley Nichols at the SF Flower & Garden Show last week. It was great to listen to someone who has such a great appreciation for Nichols' wit and turn of phrase. I'm looking forward to delving into more of Nichols writing.

  9. Sounds like a good read. I can't seem to find the time to read right now, when I stop at night, it's fast asleep I go!

  10. What's on my shelf~~I'm presently reading a mystery...nothing to do with gardening. Books like that help me sleep...gardening books jazz me up...I save them for day reading. I have been meaning to get this author's books...all the quotes are wonderful. gail

  11. Nice review. I just finished Philippa Gregory's Earthly Joys, which is a gardening novel (not for the faint of heart though) and now I'm starting The Backyard Homestead, edited by Carleen Madigan. I'll let you know how I like it.

    As to garden books by the bed, on the shelves, by the chair, next to the computer, . . . well you get the idea.~~Dee

  12. I have a Sunset book on PATIOS AND STONE on my bedroom ottoman, the one I prop my feet on while I watch TV, leaf through garden books/catalogs/magazines and consider new ways to spend the Executive Producer's wages!

  13. I think we should thank Timber Press, too, who has over the past 10 years or so released beautiful new additions of all of Nichols' gardening books. I love them and have read most.

    Right now, I've been dipping into Amy Stewart's Wicked Plants, but reading fiction most of the time.

  14. Carol, Thank you for the introduction to a new gardening author. I have worn poor Henry Mitchell and Eleanor Perenyi out--they deserve a rest. As for the garden books on the nightstand--absolutely! That was in the first post I wrote on my blog! What better kind of book to soothe the troubled mind?

  15. Too many books to name but I'm with Town Mouse at the moment. Just bought another Mary Oliver — Red Bird. Her garden/nature poetry always surprises (and delights) me.

  16. Love your article, great blog!!

  17. I have every one of his books except this ONE!!!
    I need to order it today!
    I am also rereading all of my Peter Mayle books...
    All about Provence and alot of gardening talk!
    I have listed 3/4 of my gardening books so far on the bottom of my blog in a program called shelfari (Free)

    From there I have found gardening books that never get any press... xoxo

    The Rhinestone Contessa

  18. I am so glad to see Beverly Nichols come back into favour! The new Timber Press editions are lovely, and should bring BN lots of new readers.

    One of my favourite books currently is Dominique Browning's "Paths of Desire: The Passions of a Suburban Gardener". Amusing reading.


Post a Comment

Comments are to a blog what flowers are to a garden. Sow your thoughts here and may all your comments multiply as blooms in your garden.

Though there is never enough time to respond to each comment individually these days, please know that I do read and love each one and will try to reciprocate on your blog.

By the way, if you are leaving a comment just so you can include a link to your business site, the garden fairies will find it and compost it!