At the end of one of the hottest April days we can remember we rounded off the day listening to Katherine Swift talking about gardening. Perfect.
Author of ‘The Morville Hours’ and ‘The Moville Year’, we at Mostly Books are certainly not the only ones who think Katherine’s views of all things gardening are a pleasure to hear about – she kindly came to give a talk in our shop shortly after a sell-out session at the Oxford Literary Festival.
Katherine took us on a ramble from spring through to winter in her garden – through the long journey from planning and imagining to finding that her books about her garden were becoming popular and how everyone has been captivated by the Morville story.
The simple joys of gardening and her particular style of gardening – finding historic plants in keeping with a particular style or era – all were conveyed, by Katherine, with enormous joy and an infectious enthusiasm.
Her writing is all about ‘looking at things we don’t normally look at’, she explained, which is why she can see so much beauty in a frost-covered garden, and appreciate the satisfaction of late evening watering, or the pleasure from the calm rhythm of mowing.
Her garden (or a series of interlocking gardens) has grown out of the research she has done of the Dower House, Shropshire. The gardens reflect the ever-changing history of the house. Open to the public, you can enjoy the formal patterns of a cloister garden (inspired from when there were monks in the thirteenth century), or the fragrant beauty of a Victorian rose garden.
We can all learn a lot, she says, through the history of gardening and there are many benefits from exploring the past, rather than constantly reaching out for the new.
Each plant has a story, and it is these stories which are part of the engrossing nature of her writing. Each plant was first spotted by someone, brought back by someone and first loved by someone, and her knowledge and research of how these plants have either become firm favourites, or lost through changes in fashion, makes a fascinating journey.
But on a peaceful spring evening the thing we will all take away is how worthwhile it is to create something both lasting and beautiful.