"...gardeners are all a little like that."

A flight, for any length of time, is a rare opportunity to read without feeling guilty about weeding, watering or wasted windows of opportunity to work in the garden. Or if you are more inclined - dirty dishes, dusty floors, or any other distractions that might keep you from reading a good book.

For my flight to and from Dallas to attend the Garden Writers Association symposium, I took along Old Herbaceous by Reginald Arkell. I had just enough time to get a good start on this book on the flight to Dallas and then finish it on the flight back.

Old Herbaceous is the story of the fictional Herbert Pinnegar who starts out life as an orphan and goes on to become the head gardener of an English country manor. He is a self-made gardener, who lives and works in the manor gardens through both world wars until the manor is sold. Without spoiling the ending, I’ll just say it concludes with these thoughts from the ailing, slightly senile former lady of the manor for whom he worked:

     “You were very fond of Pinnegar, weren’t you?” said the nurse.
     “Not always,” replied the old lady. “Sometimes, when he was being difficult, I could have smacked him.”
     “Oh, dear,” smiled the nurse. “I hope you never did.”
     “Of course not. That was only my fun. But he was a little trying. One minute he would exasperate you, because he would do things his way, and then he would be so sweet you almost wanted to cry.”
     “How very odd.”
     “Odd? Not at all,” said Mrs. Charteris. “Pinnegar was a gardener… just a gardener… and gardeners are all a little like that.”

“… gardeners are all a little like that.”

I like that sentiment.

“… gardeners are all a little like that.”

We can indeed exasperate others.

We can rattle off our Latin plant names, pronouncing them any way we want to and people just look at us because “gardeners are all a little like that.”

We can show up with a bit of mud around the hem of our pants, a grass stain on one knee and hands that are still slightly dirty looking, even after scrubbing, because “gardeners are all a little like that.”

We can buy yet another plant, even if we have no idea where we will plant it because “gardeners are all a little like that.”

And we can be so sweet, too.

We can give someone an unexpected bouquet of flowers or a basket of tomatoes from our own garden because “gardeners are all a little like that.”

We can dig and divide our most favorite plant and explain to a new gardener how to plant it in their garden because “gardeners are all a little like that.”

We can share our secrets of gardening with anyone who asks or even looks like they would like to ask because “gardeners are all a little like that.”

There is no end to what we can get away with as gardeners, from exasperating to sweet and everything in between, because after all, “gardeners are all a little like that.”


  1. Good thoughts here.
    Thanks for blogging about gardeners and their idiosyncrasies. I am thinking of all the times I was extremely exasperating and annoying.

    I think this book looks very interesting.


  2. Ahhh.....so I am not alone in my quirkiness.....good to know....

  3. Carol - I like this post! :) It's nice to know I have an excuse now for my quirks! :)

  4. Carol, The books sounds delightful~and I agree, most gardeners I know are "a little like that." gail

  5. I love the book's title and cover art. It might catch my eye in the bookstore for those reasons alone. It sounds like an interesting read.

  6. My non-gardening friends and family know better than to mention something about gardens, because soon I start talking nonstop and their eyes begin to glaze over:) But let me just add, Carol, that having spent a few days this week with three great gardening pals that gardeners are also the nicest, friendliest people ever!

    I didn't realize you'd been to Texas. Sounds like a wonderful time, except for the heat. I'm really appreciating the cooler temperatures here, but still no rain...sigh.

  7. We're in good company. I will have to track that book down and read it. It sounds delightful.

  8. Recently a friend of mine introduced me to a friend of hers as, "This is Byddi. She's a gardener." The person replied,"That' nice. I've never met a gardener whose mean!" We became instant friends!

  9. Ahhh...next to gardening my passion is reading...another book to put on my list! Thank you so much.


  10. Dear Carol, I really love this post! Like you, I read on flights, and as I have another trip to England coming up, I will buy this book ... it sounds delightful. Thank you. Pam x

  11. "gardeners are a little like that" sounds like a good title for a new book. And it makes for a good start for thought on the writing too.

  12. Nice. I'll have to check out the book.

  13. I have to go find that book. Can't wait to read the ending. And the lady who does my fingernail has given up telling me to use gloves. She said last week, the garden is almost done and your nails will look better soon. Gardners are like that.

  14. oh that's wonderful - I need to make a sign with that. Then when dad wants to tell me I'm doing something wrong with my plants I shall point to the sign :D

  15. This is the sweetest thing you've written in a long time, but you are just a little bit like that.~~Dee

  16. I read this when it was first reprinted and loved it. Haven't met anyone else who'd read it, so glad to know I am not alone in being "like that."


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