Some books make us better gardeners by giving us knowledge.
Some books make us better gardeners by showing us love.
Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols is a favorite of mine for the latter reason.
What in the world do I mean by “showing us love”?
What I mean is this: gardening is an act of love. It is love–love for flowers, for fresh food, for the look of a path or the feel of dirt under our nails–that pushes us out the door.
But in the hurry and press of life, it can be easy to forget our own loves. It can be easy–especially when the weather is awful or the pests are merciless–to ask ourselves why do I bother?
Those are the days when we need writers like Nichols. Those are the days we need to step into some other gardener’s shoes and be reminded that, yes, we may be crazy to work as hard as we do, but it’s a good kind of crazy because it comes from love.
Merry Hall is a farcical, funny, exaggerated romp of a memoir from 1951.
In it, Nichols describes the restoration of an English Georgian house and garden. This is a book with a wicked sense of humor and a golden heart.
I read it regularly.
Merry Hall is the first in a trilogy. The recent hardcover editions by Timber Press of Nichols’ vintage books are worth seeking out. I have found all of mine at second-hand shops.