One week into July and I’m already thinking about where to move things. Are you? Lots of plants have already done all they’re gonna do—except set seed—while others are approaching max size and about to bloom. If you too are making mental notes about what to change for next year, write them all down. Winter You will thank Summer You.
“We garden for tomorrow, and thereafter. […] Gardening, you are no longer stuck in the here and now; you think backward, and forward, you think of how this or that performed last year, you work out your hopes and plans for the next.”
How the garden is perceived by writers and painters is the topic of Penelope Lively’s first essay, "Reality and Metaphor," in her 2017 book, Life in the Garden. It was recently recommended by a friend (Hi, John), and so far I like Lively's concise style—this isn't a meandering garden memoir.
Another book I started this month isn’t about yards but it has its parallels. Dreyer’s English, by copy editor Benjamin Dreyer, is an entertaining cascade of useful rules. Gardens are "fertile material for the writer," as Lively writes, and Dreyer got me thinking about how they share an impulse with writing itself. When we garden, we edit; we watch plants grow, observe the overall tone, and decide what to remove. It is maybe not so different than correcting tense, adding commas, and clarifying ideas.
On the blog: The First Week of July 2021