Cover image for Time and the gardener : writings on a lifelong passion
Time and the gardener : writings on a lifelong passion
Sheldon, Elisabeth.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Beacon Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
viii, 276 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
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SB455 .S437 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A new collection of essays by one of America"s premier garden writers From her vantage point as an octogenarian gardener, Elisabeth Sheldon knows that one of the most important elements in the making of a garden is the passage of time. This is true in the making of a gardener as well; no great gardener is young. Now, in Time and the Gardener, Sheldon brings this perspective to bear on the process of gardening, in discussions of her favorite plants, and in a handful of portraits of some gardeners of yore. Sheldon"s long life in gardening has yielded a plethora of lessons-for instance, novice gardeners should not take gardening books too seriously, gardeners should never berate themselves over plants that die, and gardening in deep woods can be remarkably satisfying. Sheldon is a plantswoman par excellence, and in Time and the Gardener she writes delightfully about many of her favorite plants-columbines, lysimachias, clematis, and astilbes. Even gardeners in other times have inspired Sheldon, and in this book she gives us colorful portraits of Jane Loudon, Gertrude Jekyll, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and others. Marvelously written yet intensely opinionated, witty, and wise, Time and the Gardener is vintage Sheldon and will appeal to her legions of fans. Praise for Elisabeth Sheldon: "Elisabeth Sheldon is one of the few writers whose work I clip and file. Some garden writers inform, some inspire; she does both." -Pamela J. Harper, author of Designing with Perennials "Elisabeth Sheldon is one of America"s great garden inspirations." -Holly Shimizu, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Elisabeth Sheldon studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago. She is the author of two books, The Flamboyant Garden and The Proper Garden, which won two awards from the Garden Writers of America Association. Her writings have appeared in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, and other magazines. She lives and gardens in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. "Passionate articulate gardeners make the best teachers, and Elisabeth Sheldon's many years on her hands and knees in the garden have given her a perspective on gardening and plants that is both inspiring and instructive. Wisdom is a commodity in short supply these days and Sheldon has it along with courage and a sense of humor." -Lynden B. Miller, public garden designer "Elisabeth Sheldon's collection of essays in Time and the Gardener are no-nonsense, honestly frank, yet warmly passionate in this retrospective look at her decades-long love affair with flowers and gardening." -Bobby J. Ward, author of A Contemplation Upon Plants "Elisabeth Sheldon is an extraordinary gardener, writer, and designer. This book reveals her humor, honesty, and intense curiosity about plants, gardens, and some of the people who share her passion. Reading her collection of essays is the next best thing to having a leisurely tour through her garden with time for reflections on her life and the garden"s place in it. Time and the Gardener is a beautifully written treasure." -Nancy Goodwin, co-author of A Year in Our Gardens "Elisabeth Sheldon offers everything one could want in a garden writer. Her fine prose achieves poignant lyricism on one page, and mordant humor on the next. Her scholar¹s mind presents information with lucidity, but every fact and opinion is tested against her own vast experience. She never scolds or intimidates - or worse - talks down to her readers. That is the loveliest compliment. For who, really, can match her in experience, or in her passion for gardening? Readers of her previous books should be very glad for this one, which she is publishing at the age of 85, and which is as good as it gets." -Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd, authors of A Year at North Hi

Author Notes

Elisabeth Sheldon studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago. She is also the author of The Flamboyant Garden and A Proper Garden, which won two awards from the Garden Writers Association of America. Her writings have appeared in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, The Herb Companion, and other magazines. She lives and gardens in the Finger Lakes region of New York State

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Whether discussing preferred methods of seed germination or the merits of Aquilegia caerulea versus A. chrysantha, Sheldon's essays impart a wealth of sensible advice tempered with charming, wry wit. From the vantage point of a lifetime creating gardens in woodland glades and sun-drenched fields, Sheldon, now in the autumn of her life, dispenses her pearls of gardening wisdom like beads of morning dew. Through her eyes, we marvel at changes within the garden, as simple as the dropping of a single petal or as ambitious as the removal of ancient trees, and witness changes in interests: a passion for hosta one year, hothouse annuals the next. But it is through her droll, self-deprecating humor that we also reflect upon changes in the gardener herself--the failing eyesight, the creaking bones--that forecast the waning of her gardening days. There is, she cautions, no need to despair, "for . . . we know that out of all the people in the world, no one has had more fun." Readers will share her joy. --Carol Haggas

Publisher's Weekly Review

"I wonder," writes Sheldon, "is anything more fun than gardening?" If not, reading this collection of her essays certainly comes close. Like Katharine White, Sheldon is both a knowledgeable gardener and a fine writer. Each of her 33 "discussions" imparts solid information and advice without being prescriptive or didactic. Instead, the reader is treated to the very personal and frankly opinionated perspective of a hard-working gardener with a sparkling personality. Sheldon imparts wisdom from both her successes and her mistakes, such as the cylindrical rock garden she formed that ended up resembling "a sort of furry wishing well." From "The Anxieties of Spring-Growing Plants from Seed" to "Fall and Winter Color," her stories are as enlightening as they are entertaining. In "Timeless Plants-Some of My Favorites" she explores several important plant groups and types; and in "Gardeners of Other Times" Sheldon offers five incisive portraits of the creators of modern garden style, complete with a meditation on gardening and personality ("The Ill-Tempered Gardener"). A welcome relief from the glossy fluff so often passed off as gardening literature, this book will be a joy to readers with an interest in gardening, from neophytes to seasoned experts. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Though in her eighties, Sheldon (The Flamboyant Garden) still gardens in the Finger Lakes region of New York and shares a lifetime of knowledge and observations in a collection sure to please her fans. The short essays are divided into three sections: Part 1 covers general aspects of gardening such as shade gardening, mail-order plants, gathering seeds, combing colors, and so on; Part 2 is devoted to Sheldon's favorite plants, which include columbines, astilbes, gaura, chrysanthemums, variegated plants, and plants with purple foliage; and Part 3 profiles a few of the great British gardeners, including Gertrude Jekyll, Jane Loudon, and Lady Mary Wortley Montague, in fascinating detail. Sheldon writes engagingly, and, more important, her prose sparkles with common sense. Recommended for all libraries.-Phillip Oliver, Univ. of North Alabama Lib., Florence (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Time and the Gardenerp. 1
Part 1 What I've Learned over time
The Anxieties of Spring: Growing Plants from Seedp. 11
Gardening in the Woodsp. 16
Horticultural Discriminationp. 33
Tall Plantsp. 37
A New Home for Rock Plantsp. 45
Shrubs for the Mixed Borderp. 53
To the Plant Breeders--Thanks and No Thanksp. 62
Shade Garden Revolutionp. 68
Mail-order Plantsp. 71
Help!p. 78
Problems in the Tapestry Borderp. 84
Seed Gatheringp. 87
Augustp. 98
Autumnp. 105
Putting the Garden to Bedp. 108
Fall and Winter Colorp. 115
Part 2 Timeless Plants--Some of my Favorites
Columbinesp. 123
Lysimachiasp. 130
Some Border Clematisp. 137
Legumes for the Flower Borderp. 144
Astilbesp. 149
Gaurap. 156
Chrysanthemumsp. 159
Gardening with Purple Foliagep. 170
Nepetasp. 178
Two Small Plantsp. 185
Annuals for the Perennial Borderp. 188
Variegated Plantsp. 197
Part 3 Gardeners of Other Times
Miss Jekyllp. 215
First Lady of Gardening: Jane Loudonp. 223
Lady Mary's Gardenp. 240
Two More Eighteenth-Century Gardenersp. 248
The Ill-Tempered Gardenerp. 256
Plant Indexp. 261