"From the very fist, Sarah and I have built our lives based upon our home and garden," writes Monty Don in "The Ivington Diaries" (Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 2009). And in this diary-like journal spanning a decade of gardening, Don tells an intimate story of weather, plants, and his love for the land.
Monty Don is a garden writer, speaker and the star of BBC's Gardener's World. How such a busy, multi-talented guy has time to tend his own two acre garden, let alone resurrect a 16th century timber-framed Tudor house and outbuildings, I don't know, but the book convinces you of his day-to-day involvement. Don evokes the rhythms of the season, and the dailiness of gardening in the village of Ivington, which is in Herefordshire.
I'm enjoyng this satisfyingly fat book more than any gardening book for quite awhile. I haven't read it straight through, but pick it up week to week to dip into the weather, disappointments and seasonal triumphs Don so eloquently and personally portrays. He has a gift not unlike May Sarton's for the transcendent details of life and gardening. I love that he shares wisdom and opinions rather than instructs.
Don's jottings like "What happens here in the confines of the garden is my base reality and, when it happens, my only seasonal yardstick," reminds us of the bedrock localness of gardening, the great pleasure of being rooted in place and time.
Then on October 25, 2002: "There are times when I seem to lose the gardening habit....I know the motions, but the I get outside and flounder." Don't we all know that feeling??
And I love this from October 2005: "I have been assured by a number of people that it is going to be a hard winter because the squirrels have been exceptionally active hoarding nuts. I want to believe this kind of observation because I want to tap into a knowledge that transcends and subverts the stultifying logic of measurement and science." Doesn't that speak to a gardener's heart? And haven't you been watching the squirrels and the spiders to discern what's in store for us this winter?