2. The Roses at the End of the Road
by Pat Leuchtman
My blogging friend, Pat sent me an email a while ago asking if I'd like a copy of her new book, and I wrote back with resounding 'yes!' From the very first sentence, I knew this was a book I was going to love. It is one of my favorite kinds of books, those about gardening lives. Though her book isn't a month-by-month account, it is in the same category as those I highlighted in this posting almost five years ago. I've also written about two specifically: Dear Friend & Gardener by Beth Chatto & Christopher Lloyd and Tottering in My Garden by Midge Ellis Keeble. And now The Roses At The End Of The Road becomes a welcome, and loved addition to my collection.
This is the perfect book to read in January when spring in our neck of the woods seems very far off. I read it in a chair by the woodstove with outdoor temperatures in the twenties.
My first experience with gardening was not following my mother or grandmother around a garden. I didn't know anyone who had a flower garden when I was growing up. Oh, everyone had a few flowers, usually growing up against the house, but they weren't passionate about their gardens. As a young city dweller with hippie dreams of living in the country, my first teacher was the marvelous Thalassa Cruso.
She had a sense of humor and a no-nonsense approach to gardening. I think I've modeled myself pretty well after her, and all these years later it is her voice I hear in my head as I go about my gardening life. Her obituary in the New York Times does a great job in explaining this woman to those who may not have ever seen her on Public Television or read her books. I used her words as a quote du jour last year. There's a lovely piece about her here.
In Pat Leuchtman, I have found another Thalassa - a Thalassa of roses! Pat is also a cheerful, no-nonsense kind of gardener. Hers is not a stuffy gardening book which makes the reader feel hopeless to even begin. No, Pat is a woman like us. She may have eighty roses, but
I have probably killed at least half that many.When she writes of her perennial (flowers which come up each year) bed, she says that
it was never weeded sufficiently, partly because I often had trouble telling the difference between real weeds and the plants that self-seeded with abandon.I love her take on the short season of roses.
The rugosas begin blooming at the beginning of June, but by mid-July most of the roses, including the albas and gallicas, are done. Some consider this a flaw; I like to look at it like eating strawberries in season. The brevity of the season makes their loveliness and perfume that much more precious.This is an example of what I think of as the gardener philosopher. It seems to me that working alone amongst the flowers and vegetables gives one the quiet time necessary to think about life. Her daughter's wedding, which takes place in Pat's garden, inspires the author to make connections between the garden and marriage.
Gardens don't always turn out as expected. There are inexplicable failures. … Fortunately there are also those unexpected joys and bonuses. … Sun and rain. Brilliant day and darkest night. All inevitable. All necessary.What I want from a book about gardens is a belief that I can achieve what the author has done. Pat Leuchtman inspires. And encourages. With her down-to-earth approach and her generously offered information, I'm going to look into planting a couple roses next spring, and maybe some delphiniums, and maybe a new lilac. I shall be referring to this lovely little book for as long as I have a garden.
You may purchase your own copy here.