The December selection for the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club is My Favorite Plant, edited by Jamaica Kinkaid. I had hoped to have more time to read this excellent anthology of writers ruminating on plants, but a busy and complicated December made me glad that this is a book one can dip in and out of, sort of like when you only have enough time to run outside and check on one thing in your garden, rather than doing an entire pass-through to see how every plant is doing.
Once again, this is a book that focuses strongly on flowers. I’m still at the stage where I had to use Google Images to find out what Hellebore and Cyclamen actually look like, so I could figure out whether I agreed with the authors of pieces about those respective blossoms.
But I found myself particularly taken with Czech playwright Karel Capek’s short treatise on buds. “I tell you, buds are as strange and varied as leaves and flowers,” he writes. “There will be no end to your discoveries.” It made me think back to last spring and early summer, as the seedlings we’d put in the ground began to show signs of life, and how exciting it was to see anything unfurl. This is why my iPhoto files are swollen with hundreds of pictures of various buds in various stages of bursting open—if I could see it, I’d photograph it, collecting them relentlessly so I wouldn’t miss anything along the way.
My other favorite piece was a short essay by Maxine Kumin called “Beans.” She writes of her love affair with all kinds of beans: bush beans, pole beans, runner beans. “Once I didn’t know beans about beans,” Kumin writes. “Now I am a bean counter and proud of it.”
What I liked best about Kumin’s essay was the way it traced the beans through the year, including their stint in glass jars on her kitchen pantry shelves until the dried beans are put to use as a delicious bean soup. She talks about vegetable gardeners and their inveterate need to store their produce for winter use, and while we didn’t quite grow enough this summer for any major storage effort, I’ll admit that I have an eye toward at least freezing more from the farmer’s market next year, even if I don’t yield enough for that from the back yard.
I’m looking forward to the next book in the series – we’ll be taking a look at the soil web, which is something I feel like I owe it to the garden to learn more about. More on that in January…