A large rabbit hole showed up on my porch...

A large rabbit hole showed up on my porch Tuesday evening.

Summer is so busy, this is no time for large rabbit holes. There are weeds to pull, gardens to water, and vegetables to harvest. The house needs to be cleaned, again, even though I swear I cleaned it right before Easter. There is a loose brick on the porch that needs to be glued back into place. There is mulch to spread.

There are work, writing, and family obligations a-plenty.

But rabbit holes have their own ways and timing and forms. This new rabbit hole of mine is in the form of a 14 volume set of The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Gardening, published in 1960.

I have a recent commenter, Mary C. from Mary's Gardening Endeavors, to thank for leaving me a comment a few weeks ago about these encyclopedias that she found for sale on Etsy.  Old gardening books apparently remind her of me. Thank you, Mary C.!

Now, lest anyone think that I'll buy just about any old gardening book, let it be known that I did make myself think about these 14 volumes for five or six days. I decided if still remembered them and they were still there after that amount of time, I would buy them. That would be the rule I'd live by.

Those five or six days just flew by but I remembered these books and they were still there for sale when I looked again, so now they are mine. I like to follow rules, even those I make up for myself.

Someone asked me where I was going to put these 14 lovely volumes that all have a cover that looks like this:

I don't quite know yet. It seems (um) that my bookshelves are fairly full already.

But full bookcases won't stop me from buying old gardening books as I find them.

These particular books are from 1960. At first I thought, "Oh, those aren't very old", because after all, I was alive in 1960, my younger sister was born that year. Then I realized these were over fifty years, and it is a complete set and where would anyone find something like this anytime soon?

There is much to explore down this rabbit hole.
For starters, who is T. H. Everett? Who were these "twenty horticulturists and authorities in the United States and Canada" who contributed to these encyclopedias? What's on some of the little slips of paper left by some previous owner, including a shopping list with just two items on it -- canned milk and Calgon? Was the person who left that note planning a milk bath? Is there any significance to the page she left the note on or was she just using it for a general bookmark? What can we learn from 50 plus year old gardening encyclopedias?

Oh my, this is going to be a deep rabbit hole. Too deep for now. I'll save it for a winter's day.

In the meantime, one other unrelated rabbit hole book came today... a treasure from 1906.
Surely there is a time now for this tiny little rabbit hole of a book with this very pretty cover?

(Readers, should you ever see, online, an old gardening book that you think I'd surely like to have, please feel free to leave me a link to it, like Mary C. did. You just never know... I might decide that I must have it after making up and following whatever rule helps me justify getting it.)


  1. You're perfectly right not to buy just any old gardening book. Any book (apart from those filled with hatred and evil, I guess, though those are subjective values and not perhaps very prevalent in gardening books) deserve a good home, and I'm sure the encyclopedia will be very happy on your shelves.

    Find it a nice spot near a comfy chair so you can reach out for it when you have a quiet moment for perusing it!

  2. Have you thought about writing a book? It would have a place of honor on my shelves. Thanks for your creativity! Sue

  3. I cannot resist gardening books either and applaud you for jumping into that 'rabbit hole'. Winter reading for sure.

  4. My father believed that answers were found in books and this encyclopedia of gardening was where he "looked things up" when I was a child. I recently gave up the set after having it on the book shelf for years, giving it to a library book sale. I hope that it found a good home like the one you bought on Ebay.

  5. You need some face out shelving, like they have in bookstores, to show off some of your beautiful antique books. That 1906 book is so pretty, you could frame it & hang it on the wall.

  6. I also frequent the Half-Price and used bookstores for these treasures. One never knows where the wisdom is to be gained.

    And Teagarden, you never know, Carol may have ended up with YOUR set. Our local library has an annual sale too and the first people there are always the local used book sellers; they snatch up the good stuff for resale! I once donated a hardback copy of my own book to our library, thinking they'd like a local author on their shelves. It promptly went unrecognized that I was a local author and I found out later that my brand new hardback had been sold for $2.00 at the annual sale.

  7. hehe, I'm glad I was able to refer some winter fun your way! Who knows what forgotten methods and varieties you'll learn about?

  8. Out of shelf space? Do what I always do and buy more bookshelves! :D

  9. Carol I love your rules for justifying these wonderful books. I will keep my eyes peeled for the right book that is looking for you!!

  10. That was my mother's rule about "buying" something (a needed item) and "purchasing" something (a non-essentia)l.

    If after a week you still remembered the possible purchase you probably really wanted it and should get it----unless it was wildly expensive!

    I thought the picture of the encyclopedia set looked terribly familiar. My husband bought me the entire set at an auction a number of years ago. I particularly like the pictures of people working. One on page 1691 of volume 10 of a man using a pole saw wearing nice pants, a suit coat and tie! I had no idea we were still so formal in the early 60's!

  11. I am not into gardening before but I began to love it as I saw my mother who's very happy watering and cleaning her flower garden. The joy that it brings to my heart is superb specially when I see a flower blooms.

    Cassy from Acoustic Guitar Lessons


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