Monday, February 18, 2013


This is the time of year when we all start to yearn for spring.  Recently I hosted a lunch for my garden group and the topic was roses.  The speaker was the rose expert at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens and in his excellent lecture he spoke about the best roses for Southern California.  But before we heard about roses, the topic we were all discussing was the flowering pear tree.  We walked around my garden before the lecture and admired the tree which has recently burst into blossom.  It really has been a glorious sight each day and there have been moments when I have walked out the back door to see it and wanted to do a little dance "for sheer joy" just like Elizabeth did in Elizabeth and Her German Garden:

"I am always happy (out of doors be it understood, for indoors there are servants and furniture), but in quite different ways, and my spring happiness bears no resemblance to my summer or autumn happiness, though it is not more intense, and there were days last winter when I danced for sheer joy out in my frost-bound garden in spite of my years and children.  But I did it behind a bush, having due regard for the decencies.

There are so many bird-cherries round me, great trees with branches sweeping the grass, and they are so wreathed just now with white blossoms and tenderest green that the garden looks like a wedding.  I never saw such masses of them; they seem to fill the place.  Even across a little stream that bounds the garden on the east, and right in the middle of the cornfield beyond, there is an immense one, a picture of grace and glory against the cold blue of the spring sky."  -- Elizabeth Von Arnim

Even though it is not yet spring, the sight of that tree can elicit a serious case of spring fever.  There is just something so hopeful about those white blossoms against the blue of the sky.  The wind shakes the branches and the ground is carpeted in white petals.      

The British playwright and novelist J.B. Priestley, who by his own admission was a grumbler by nature, waxed poetic at the sight of spring blossoms:

"Blossom--apple, pear, cherry, plum, almond blossom--in the sun...after fifty years this delight in the foaming branches is unchanged.  I believe that if I lived to be a thousand and were left with some glimmer of eyesight, this delight would remain...At least once every spring on a fine morning... we stare again at the blossom and are back in Eden."

 On a day like this, spring does not seem very far away and I have been dipping into some of my favorite garden books for inspiration.

 I can't get enough of these inspiring stories about gardens and garden dreamers

Beverley Nichols, Vita Sackville-West, and Elizabeth Von Arnim are three of my favorite garden writers.   I love learning how the garden becomes a metaphor for finding hope and meaning in their own lives.  I also love the inspirational and how-to books on creating a garden.  My copy of Martha Stewart's Gardening is tattered from so much use.  Gardeners are often bookish types who love reading books about their passion during the winter months.  My stack of garden books is growing all the time and dipping into them on a chilly February day is one way to bring spring just a little closer.


  1. My copy of Martha's Gardening looks very much the same.

  2. I do not own many gardening books but I do share your love of gardening and roses are my favourite all time blooms.
    The lecture at the Huntington must have been such a joy to attend...we visited The Huntington when we were on holiday and it was highlight on our trip.
    I love how you have designed your garden. It looks like you can reach the beds for weeding and planting without trampling the plants.
    Have a wonderful week!

  3. Beautiful! We're still a month or so away from the first flowering fruit trees here in Vancouver but there is nothing so delightfully spring-like as an avenue of trees in blossom. Also, I love your stack of gardening books. Some of those titles are already favourites (I love Garden People!) and others I can't wait to track down.

  4. Beautiful trees and a beautiful garden. No flowering trees yet here in the northwest, but my daffodils are beginning to open and they make me very happy. My Martha Stewart Gardening also looks very much the same. I love the look of a well used tattered book.

  5. Oh what a wonderful Von Arnim quote. I love that book & am waiting eagerly for the blossom to arrive here. Hope you're still dancing in sheer joy at your blossom.

  6. It's just been so glorious with the pear tree blossoms all around our neighborhood. I'm curious (besides the fact that they look beautiful) as to why you have your citrus trees in those large pots, rather than in the ground? Is it to keep them smaller? Do they produce well? Your garden is very beautiful.

    1. HI Kathy, those trees are dwarf citrus trees and so we wanted them in pots. The four blue pots and the fountain became a unifying theme and a focal point in the garden. And the citrus trees produce well.

  7. I would be dancing also if my pear tree was as stunning as your's,love your garden rooms you appear to be well into Spring.Still in the grip of Winter here with tufts of Snowdrops nodding in the icy sunlight.

    The only citrus I have grown is a Kumquat in a terracotta pot which has to over Winter in the garden room then out onto the terrace when the frosts are over.The turquoise pots add the extra dramatic touch.Thank you have enjoyed visiting.Ida

  8. quelle gorgeous post!

    we also have a fine collection of Vita Sackville-West's gardening columns from The Observer in our dark wood bookcase.

    lovely blog.

    will visit again.

    warmest wishes from west hollywood.


  9. Have you been to Sissinghurst? Have read almost every book about it and an dying to see it in person.
    Very welcome spring inspiration.

  10. Sounds like you met Tom Carruth at the Huntington. He retired from Weeks Roses- hybridized many of their favorites.

    Great blog, Certain to be back/