Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Roses at the End of the Road by Pat Leuchtman

2. The Roses at the End of the Road
by Pat Leuchtman
nonfiction, 2011
finished, 1/12/12

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.


  1. How wonderful for you to have this author as a blogging friend -- she sounds like she could be your best friend "for real". (As usual, I am dreaming about a life I chose not to live -- but also as usual it is wonderful to read about yours!)

  2. Sallie, I think you'd enjoy this book. She hasn't lived in this place, or in this kind of life always. She talks about the many different places she's lived, including China!

  3. This sounds like a book right up my gardening alley, Nan.

    I had two rugosa roses in our other house and loved them. They spread and grew just like I wanted them to and were indestructible. I have one here, and it is doing so-so. I think it needs more sun and will be moving it come spring. The rugosas have such a wonderful scent and hips for the birds.

    Like I said, this sounds like my kind of book.

  4. I'm sure it is, Penny! You'll enjoy her warmth as well as the information. Lovely book, really.

  5. This sounds like my kind of book, books by gardening experts so often make you feel inadequate as they never seem to have failures or aching backs or not enough time or money. I love old shrub roses and absolutely agree that the short flowering season of some of them is more than compensated for by their scents and colours.

  6. I asked for Pat's book as a christmas present and received it. I think it is a good book, especially for this time of year. It made me want to try more roses.

  7. Rowan, I think you would find this most appealing.

    Lisa, that's great!

  8. Nan - thank you for the kind words.I hoped the book would let people know there are a lot of hardy roses out there that don't need cosseting. I also had hoped the book would be available on Amazon by now, but that hasn't happened. come visit the commonweeder!

  9. what a lovely gift and a great-looking book too!

  10. Pat, you certainly encouraged me!

    Marie, it's a little treasure.

  11. Sounds like an awesome book! Thanks for the review!

  12. It is a lovely little book, Sherri, and very encouraging if you've thought roses were just too hard to grow. They aren't!

  13. I've added Common Weeder to my Google Reader, and the book to my wish list. Thanks for the recommendation!

  14. She writes a delightful blog, Jenclair. And her book has the same conversational, intelligent style.

  15. This sounds like a delightful book, Nan. I popped over to her blog and read a few entries. Of course, now I've bookmarked it for future perusal. Thanks so much for the introduction. :)

  16. Pat's blog is great fun, Les. I'm glad you're visiting her.

  17. There truly is something about reading gardening books in the winter. This looks like a great addition to my list of gardening books to read. You recommend some great ones! Thanks Nan.

  18. This is a very rich post. Thanks for pointing out the book, which I've added to my list, and the parts about Thalassa Cruso. I also love the rhythm and music of plant/flower names: albas, gallicas, rugosas...

  19. Nan - have you ever read Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols? A lovely classic gardening book.

  20. Kiirstin, you will love this!

    HKatz, those are beautiful words, aren't they?!

    Kathie, I have, but it was a while ago. I'd like to read it again, along with Garden Open Today which I also have on the shelf. Thanks for the reminder.


I'll answer your comments as soon as I possibly can. Please do come back if you've asked a question.
Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.