I popped over to the Rant the other day and found this link about an interview with Amy Stewart who, among other things, is the woman who's entirely to blame that I'm a garden blogger today. If you have the time, do pop over and read the interview, it's fun and Amy's vid about her new book is quite amusing. In the interview Amy was asked what her very first garden book was and that got me thinking about my first garden book and how big it's influence has been on me as a gardener. I still have it, even though it's ever so slightly the worse for wear.
What's that you mumble? There's a cat on the front cover? Well hello, this is Bliss you know, where cats and gardens go paw in leaf. For those of you who can't read Dutch its title is Mimi, the Little Cat. I got this book as a present from friends of my parents when I was 3 years old and unable to read. I distinctly remember pestering all and sundry to read this book to me as I was dead keen on it. Once they had finished reading it to me I charmed them into reading it all over again, which they did, bless them. BTW did I mention the keen thingy? To this day I know the first page of this book by heart.
The book is about a little kitten that's playing outside in a very tiny courtyard garden surrounded by a very high wall. Mimi is chasing a fly but as there is so little space, not a lot of fun is to be had.
So she decides to climb that wall to see what's on the other side. But she loses her balance and lands on a clump of lovely daffodils and Primulas.
Guess what my favourite spring flowers are?
Remember, I even took the dafs to the Desert Island with me (among other things, which we won't mention now) and every year I buy lots of Primulas in February and March to brighten up my living room and kitchen and once they've finished flowering, I pop them in my kitchen garden.
After she recovers from the shock Mimi finds herself in a wonderful garden and she starts to explore it. While happily walking around, she stumbles upon some pretty flowers and has a very nice chat with them. To this day I'm ever so slightly disappointed that my flowers don't talk to me.
I remember impressing the heck out of many a gardener when 3 year old mini me was able to tell them the name of these flowers. In Dutch it's Oost-Indische Kers, a very long name, especially for a 3 year old. Nowadays I have my own version of Mimi with nasturtiums. My Mimi is called Dolly Daisy.
Mimi also has a meet and greet with a talking apple tree with pretty red apples.
And what does Yolanda grow at Bliss today?
And they are bright red, just like the ones in the book!!!
Then Mimi gets to meet a little doggy in the garden, its name is Puck, and a very cute doggy it is too. Together they have oodles of fun.
No guesses as to what Yolanda has running around in her garden.
Her very own version of Puck, better known as Tara.
In the garden in the book there is also a lovely pond filled with waterlilies, frogs and goldfishes, exactly what I had in my old garden and hope to have again this year (keeping fingers and toes firmly crossed that this will finally happen) in the Bliss garden.
So yes, this book about a kitten and a garden has had a big influence on me, and not only as a gardener. What it has taught me most is that a garden should be fun and shared with many creatures so that it becomes a truly magical place in real life, not just in children's books.
And now the 64,000 dollar question: what was your first garden book and what was its influence on you, gentle reader? One enquiring mind really would like to know.
copyright, the drawings not included, 2009: Y.E.W. Heuzen
Gardening, like living, should be fun. It can't be much of the time, but we can do our best to make it so. It is that intangible something which immediately proclaims that behind the scenes there is an original whose guiding hand has created something ephemeral, yes, but with the magic of a sunset.