Always a red-letter day when a book shows up in my mailbox. Today, Four Hedges: A Gardener's Chronicle (1935) arrived from the kind folks at Luminaria Books. The book is much larger than I expected, and it is in perfect condition. It was carefully and neatly wrapped in brown paper with 'Fragile' marked on both sides of the package. Aren't all books fragile?
The book covers a year in the author's garden in Monks Risborough in the Chiltern Hills of England. Simon at Stuck in a Book recently reviewed it and it immediately appealed to me. I ordered it that day. Four Hedges also contains 80 engravings or woodcuts by its author, Clare Leighton.
The chronicle is broken down month by month starting with April, so I am not too far behind.
Here is how it begins:
Ours is an ordinary garden. It is perched on a slope of the Chiltern Hills, exposed to every wind that blows. Its soil is chalk; its flower beds are pale grey. Dig into it just one spit, and you reach, as it were a solid cement foundation. One might be hacking at the white cliffs of Dover. Only when it is wet from heavy rain does our soil darken and look normal. It is a new garden. In it there are none of the great trees that spread their shade over stretches of lawn, none of the mellow, age-silvered bricks that shelter a walled-in fruit garden, not a hint of a crazy paving patterned with moss, or a sundial with edges blunted by time.
In other words, a blank slate. Lots to do, oh, lots to do.
I love reading personal experiences about gardens and gardening although you won't ever find me digging in the dirt. I wonder if Ms. Leighton and Beverley Nichols, another great gardener, author, and a favorite of mine, were acquainted?
Here is a close-up of the book's amusing endpapers.