Saturday 26 February 2011

Twenty-five years of inspiration

Needing to look something up, I brought a selection of books and the teapot back to bed with me this morning. Among the books was my working copy of E.A. Bowles's My Garden in Spring, first published in 1913 but reprinted on three occasions since. This is the Theophrastus facsimile edition of 1971. On the fly leaf is this inscription:
indicating that I've had this book exactly twenty-five years today (also showing how much later the RHS February show was in those days, and proving that I did once have legible handwriting).

I first met Bowles's My Garden trilogy in the public library near my school in about 1983. It inspired me to see plants as personalities, and to delve into the realm of plantsmanship. 'Come into Mr Bowles's garden and learn what true gardening is, and what is the real beauty of plants, and what the nature of their display' wrote Reginald Farrer in his preface, and this is indeed what these books do. One is gently led through the author's well-stocked garden, and the plants are described with charm and humour, such that one wants to go out and grow them for oneself. I cannot recommend the trilogy too highly to those have not read it, and to those who have, it constantly repays perusal.


  1. I was given E A Bowles' 'My Garden in Summer' and 'My Garden in Autumn amd Winter'last year and intended getting his 'Spring' book to read first. You have spurred me on to search for it now so I can read them all.

  2. I was just re-reading A Bouquet of Garden Writing: Selected from the Five Grand Masters edited by Ursula Buchan, which includes E.A. Bowles. If you can't find his books, this book really gives you the flavor.

  3. Ditto, John. Excellent books.

    Graham Thomas in his 90s was still rereading them and still finding new things. He thought it one of the most remarkable pieces of horticultural writing.

    Bowles writes so simply and elegantly that you can only say "of course."


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