‘The Tillotson catalogues bring me great happiness. Here are the moss roses, the musk roses, the damasks and sweetbriers, the old-fashioned hybrid teas and hardy perpetuals of my childhood and my father’s childhood’
Katharine White, The New Yorker’s fiction editor from 1925 to 1960, was a garden catalogue addict and wrote about them in the pages of the magazine as though she were reviewing the latest novel. Like all great columnists, she could be bitingly opinionated: ‘To me a ruffled petunia is occasionally a delight but a ruffled snapdragon is an abomination’. Yet, as her husband E. B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web, observes in his introduction to this collection, ‘she held the whole world of flowers in a warm embrace’.
White’s first garden column appeared in 1958 and over the next 12 years they blossomed into this delightful collection. She plunges us into the world of the real gardener, thrilled at the discovery of new plants and despairing of the trend towards making flowers bigger, fluffier and fancier (Burpee’s Magical Marigolds bears her particular wrath).
Whether writing about flower arranging, fragrances (‘one gardener’s perfume is another gardener’s stink’), or pick-axing lily bulbs into the frozen ground of a New England garden, White offers a potpourri of pithy, well informed writing to dip into again and again.
Review by BetsyJune on 21st Jan 2013
"While reading this book, I felt like I was drinking coffee and pouring over the catalogs with Ms White. Delightful in everyway. The binding is one of my favorites of all the Folio books in my librar..." [read more]