Winter Reading - Colour in the Garden

 OK, but not so colourful...
My Winter Garden

Winter is a great time for me to catch up on garden reading in the public library. The shelves are full and colourful, but the emphasis in my library seems to be on small-scale gardening in small spaces - for small-minded gardeners? No, no, these books don't speak to me (I do try to listen, honestly).

It's funny reading gardening books when stuck in a library, anyway. Just one chapter is enough to recharge my batteries, and I want to zoom home, don my wet weather gear, then redesign and redig some unsuspecting border.

I'd Much Rather Be Gardening

The magazines are worse, because I'd much, much, much rather be gardening than reading a magazine (unless it's Fine Gardening, my favourite). I get fidgety immediately - and envious of all the latest plant releases (which I won't be able to source, will find far too dear, and probably wouldn't look after properly anyway). Hmm... How easy it is for a not-able-to-garden gardener to get just the tiniest bit grumpy.

 Val Bourne is a legend!
Colour in the Garden Book

Saved by a Book

But wait! A flash of golden light! It took the form of an unlikely gardening book, plucked nonchalantly from the library shelves, scarily called 'Colour in the Garden', by British writer Val Bourne. I'm not good with using and controlling colour, so this book could easily have seen me soaking and stewing in the Jacuzzi of Winter Gardening Gloom. But, my goodness, it had quite the opposite effect.

I read it thoroughly, pen in hand, furiously scribbling down quotes, advice, interesting titbits, and plant names. And then I read it again, and again, taking yet more notes. And I've re-read my notes several times since. I loved this writer! Rather than scaring me she shared her personal wisdom in small, bite-sized chunks - perfect to build up my confidence.

 Thanks, Dan!
Miscanthus Untrimmed

Wide Gardening Spectrum

The title may be 'Colour in the Garden', but writer Val Bourne is concerned with a much wider, deeper gardening spectrum. There's no showing off - or telling off, either. Phew! It's perfectly OK when I forget to winter-trim my Miscanthus. The designer Dan Pearson likes to do just this! Oooh - I am in good gardening company.

I've seen a lot of flowery plants that I like - Agastache 'Blue Fortune', for one - and there's a whole chapter on Euphorbias. Nice! I now know that Kordes roses are 'bred without the support of black-spot sprays' and I am inspired to get a bluer Nepeta, as well as taking cuttings of my tall Six Hills Giant variety. And I am now much, much better informed about daisy flowers.

This Book is Empowering

See - it wasn't all about colour, was it? Val Bourne's 'Colour in the Garden' is a wonderfully empowering, gardening-in-general book, and I'm so glad I found it. The organisation of the book into seasonal chapters gives a natural sequence to the narrative. If (like me) you've had even the slightest colour troubles, this book will restore your faith. Frustrated mid-winter gardeners, in particular, will dance for joy, inspired and determined to shine in the coming seasons.

Memo to self (continued)... Get more Salvias (including Piet Oudolf's handsome Salvia verticillata), investigate Geranium macrorrhizum 'White Ness' and viridiflora tulips 'Spring Green', find Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer' with its 'jumping gene', read more books by Val Bourne...

That's Quite Enough Name Dropping

'Colour in the Garden' by Val Bourne, with photography by Jonathan Buckley, is published by Merrell. Here's a great review of the book by Graham Rice. Now I think that's quite enough name-dropping of the gardening-famous for one gardening page...