My first Garden Bloggers’ Book Club review

What a wonderful read Karel Capek’s The Gardening Year is! Although Mr. Capek’s book was first published in 1929, much of his writing is as pertinent today as it was nearly a century ago. We gardener types can all relate to his amusing anecdotes, such as knowing the exact moment when the first forsythia bud appeared in spring or railing against the weather.

While reading this book, I was struck by Capek’s instinctive understanding of the workings of a gardener’s mind. He is able to poke gentle fun at gardeners because he obviously experienced many of these foibles himself.

Capek’s approach in talking about what happens each month in a gardener’s year is an engaging one. Most gardeners would nod their heads in agreement as Capek outlines many a gardener’s thoughts and tasks during the gardening year. The accompanying caricatures, drawn by his brother, add much appeal to Capek’s words.

I had a nostalgic moment while reading a small chapter inserted between Capek’s discussion of a gardener’s life in July and August. Here we are treated to a lovely description of what Capek sees as “clearly distinguished botanical groups” at railway stations and at butcher shops. With the disappearance of most passenger railway stations and independent butcher shops here, I could only reflect on what I remember of that time long ago as we waited on the station platform for a train’s arrival.

If you are a cacti lover, then you will enjoy Capek’s musings on the cult of the mysterious cacti. In his words, “ there are profound mysteries in a Real Cactus Soil which no cactus maniac would betray, even if you broke him on the wheel.” I suppose it was a reflection of his times too, that Capek compared a cacti collection to a “camp of war-like pygmies” and then declared that “life is war”. Some things never change, do they?

While reading Capek, I had a sense that the autumn season was his favourite time of year. He closes the month of October with this beautiful statement:

A garden is never finished. In that sense it is like the human world and all human undertakings.

No truer words have ever been spoken.

12 thoughts on “My first Garden Bloggers’ Book Club review

  1. Annie in Austin says:

    Kate, we should all be glad that you found out about the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club, so we can read posts like these.I don’t remember any train stations, so the only ‘signature’ plants of business locations that came to mind were the yard-long Sanserveria/mother-in-law tongues and enormous woody bedding geraniums in the window of Illinois drycleaners. The garden may never be finished, but it’s still time to get off the computer and spend time with the tools.Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  2. Carol says:

    Kate, Thanks for joining in with the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club. I enjoyed your review, and agree that the quote you pulled out is so true! I’ll be posting a blog entry with links to all the reviews, yours included, on March 31st.

  3. Naturegirl says:

    I AM THRILLED THAT YOU INTRODUCED YOURSELF TO ME!I shall try and get a copy of this book because you should see my kitchen french doors right now…all my outdoor cacti are thriving along the doors and very much a hazard for my 3 kittys!Soon they will be moved outdoors into the garden.Oh NO I could NEVER part with my book ~Night Gardening~ I reread it every June..I just love the story and reference to the plants and love story ..sigh..at their age too! Carol from Germany? I can’t remmber what I said. hugs NG

  4. jodi says:

    Hi Kate, Not sure which link isn’t working, bu you can order the book directly from me if you’d like. email me; jodi at saltscapes.com (you know what to do to make it work) and I’ll send you the snailmail coordinates and all that. cheers, jodiI can’t figure out if I have your email address or not, so if you don’t want to publish this comment, that’s fine with me.

  5. Thalia says:

    Dear Kate,Thanks for your comments on my blog. You have a lovely garden and a very interesting blog here. I enjoyed reading it. So, shall keep checking in everyday. 🙂

  6. Kate says:

    Annie, I wonder why it is that big pots of geraniums seem to be a favourite of drycleaners… I am so looking forward to getting outside and digging again. Carol, I am looking forward to reading all of the book reviews. I’ve come across a few and have enjoyed them. Naturegirl, I’d love to see all your cacti.My collection has dwindled somewhat because of an early frost last year. I’m slowly building it up again. Your cats will be relieved when the cacti are moved outdoors. Larry, I was glad to see that I’m on the Sask. blogs aggregator. Yay!Jodi, your book will be a treat to read … it will be interesting to compare the differences in what we are able to grow here with you in the maritimes. Hi Thalia – thank you for stopping by. I will check your blog regularly too!

  7. Yolanda Elizabet says:

    Excellent review Kate. Have you considered emigrating because over here we have both railway stations and butcher shops. :-)BTW Loved the quote!

  8. Genie says:

    Kate, the caricatures definitely cracked me up…I enjoyed them. And you know, for all that I’ve been discussing cacti on my blog lately, I somehow skimmed over the cactus musings without really absorbing them. Thanks for pointing me back in that direction.Welcome to the book club!:-) Genie

  9. Gotta Garden says:

    What an asset you are to the club (spoken as one who still hasn’t done a single review…although I mean to!)! If I wasn’t already reading the book (I know, I haven’t finished it!), your review would inspire me to!Btw, I am reading The Red Queen! (That must be why I haven’t finished the other one…lol!)

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