Garden Gifts – Books & A Movie

By Linda Wiggen Kraft

December is gift-giving season. There are new garden books and a movie that will delight gardeners and others with their beautiful photography and inspiring words.

The biggest and most beautiful book is by well-known gardener, photographer and garden writer Ken Druse. The work of flower photographer Ellen Hoverkamp also graces the cover and inside pages. The title is The Scentual Garden. It gives a missing language to the varied fragrances of garden plants. In the worlds of wine and perfumes there is a well-defined language to the smells and tastes nature’s diverse chemicals. The language of what flowers and foliage smell like is almost illiterate by comparison. This book gives a new vocabulary by borrowing language from perfumers to define twelve distinct categories of garden fragrance. Who knew that there was an animalic scent? Others may be more familiar including fruity, herbal green, medicinal and spice.

The two other books are Emily Dickinson’s Garden Life and On Flowers. The poet Emily Dickinson loved to garden and wrote: “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church, I keep it, staying at Home, With a Bobolink for a Chorister, And an Orchard, for a Dome.” Author Marta McDowell was the Gardener-In-Residence at the Emily Dickinson Museum. She shares Emily’s poems about her garden interspersed in McDowell’s prose about the actual gardens now grown at the museum. The book follows the garden year and includes a cross reference of all the flowers mentioned in Emily’s poems. The book On Flowers, is a fun photo journal of flower love by “accidental” florist Ann Merrick. There are photos and unique information about ways to love and arrange all kinds of flowers, from roadside weeds and grocery store flowers to high-end florist blooms. The author lived throughout the U.S. and in Japan and shares the beauty she found in each place. My favorite pages list the Japanese words and love for cherry blossom including Hanafubuki (a moment of cherry petals swirling in the breeze) and Yozakura (the experience of viewing cherry trees at night).

The 2019 movie, The Biggest Little Farm, was shown in theatres earlier this year and is now available on Netflix and other streaming links. It is a great family watch. Filmmaker John Chester and his chef wife Molly were living in a Los Angeles apartment. In 2011 they moved an hour’s drive away to a 213 acre desolate farm, that they named Apricot Lane Farms. John chronicled the eight year struggles and successes of transforming barren dirt into living verdant organic and biodynamic soil, gardens and orchards that are a thriving ecosystem of humans, plants, animals and nature. This is a beautifully filmed documentary full of farm action and details. The produce and food from these farms is highly sought after in farmers markets and restaurants in Los Angeles area. This inspiring story shows how working with nature, not against her, brings abundant life into being.

Share these gifts, or get them for yourself. They are a treat to all with their beauty, wisdom and inspiration.

Linda Wiggen Kraft is a landscape designer who creates holistic and organic gardens. She is also a mandala artist and creativity workshop leader. Her blog and website are: www.CreativityForTheSoul.com. Her phone number is (314) 504-4266.