One safe rule for gardeners

Once upon a time, I lost my footing near an old gardening book, fell in, and ever since then I have been making my way from one book to another, finding all kinds of nuggets of gardening wit and wisdom.

I am fascinated by the connections, the bridges between all these old gardening books.  One author mentions another, my ears perk up and I'm off in search of another writer, another book.

Lately Mrs. Francis King, whom I re-discovered in an antique store, has led me to Kate Brewster. Somewhere, in reading about these two garden writers, I figured out they were quite involved in the genesis of The Garden Club of America. This revelation led me to start looking through my review copy of a recently published history of The Garden Club of America,  The Garden Club of America: 100 Years of a Growing Legacy by William Seale (Smithsonian Books, 2012).

It's a gold mine of the connections of many gardeners and garden writers.

This led me to Google Books, where some of the earlier bulletins of The Garden Club of America can be read online.  In the November 1919 bulletin, I found an essay by the British garden writer Gertrude Jekyll, who turned out to be a friend of Mrs. Francis King. In the essay, titled "Some Aims of Gardening" (page 7),  Jekyll wrote about making a garden, "One safe rule is not to attempt too much at one time."

This reminds me of another quote from Kate Brewster who was the editor of the bulletins.  "...there is nothing stupider than to have so much garden that there is no time or energy left for enjoying it". ~ Kate L. Brewster, The Little Garden for Little Money, 1924.

In other words, "size your garden for the resources you have", my second secret to achieving happiness in your garden.

Can you imagine a dinner with the Gertrude Jekyll, Mrs. Francis King, and Kate Brewster, taking place in the late 1910's?  Can you imagine them discussing how much more enjoyable gardening is when you have a garden which is the right size for you to care for it and still leave time to enjoy it?  Is this where King came up with the idea for The Little Garden Series books?

I don't know if such a dinner ever occurred, but it is fun to imagine that it did.


  1. How fascinating! I often wonder what it would be like to participate in conversations with famous gardeners/writers. Sounds like some great reads!

  2. I learned the hard way about not biting off more than I could chew at my other house. I began a project that took me hours and hours everyday for the entire growing season to complete. Of course, I loved the results, but it was a job. I often wishfully think about that garden. Comparatively, I have a very small garden at my current home.Sigh~

  3. That really would be something! Thanks for the connections. I never knew about those.~~Dee

  4. A problem with that rule is time, what one can manage at one point in life may be severely challenged as one gets older. Another problem is outside forces in operation, like being compelled to spend the month of June away helping with births of 2 grandsons, then forever fighting all the weeds that set seed. Or taking vacation trips with the same result. Or weed seeds coming into your yard in some compost or ? and suddenly you have weeds you can't control.

    It is a lovely rule, though, I wish I was securely covered by it but am not. I would love to downsize from 2 acres but DH hates to move. So I seek to tame the monster weeds....

  5. These posts you've done on the old garden books are wonderful. I've never heard of the "Little Garden" series and will definitely be keeping my eyes out for them now.

    By the way, I'm in love with the way you opened this post!


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!