Before reading Down the Garden Path by Beverley Nichols, I quickly scanned Old Herbaceous and The Gardener’s Year, two old books on gardening that aren’t really about gardening, but more like old-timey, self-deprecating insights on the human condition.
I, however, am in the mood to read gardening books, and so I settled on Nichols’ book because, while there was a lot of inappropriate humor (jokes at the expense of everyone besides wealthy white males), it was also about gardening. Nichols is clearly obsessed with every detail of the garden. I enjoyed reading about the painstaking work that went into his seeds and sprouts. I liked reading about the close relationship he had with his parents and their shared interest in gardening. The competitive relationship he has with the neighbor, Mrs. M, is enviable.
Here are some of the lines I liked:
-“I believe in doing things too soon. In striking before the iron is hot, in leaping before one has looked, in loving before one has been introduced” (9).
-“There are certain very definite rules to be observed when you are Making The Tour. The chief rule is that you must never take anything out of order” (39).
-“And yet, not quite silence. For if you hold your breath, and listen, you can hear the plants growing…” (211).
-“It took a few million years to make a snowdrop. Surely one is justified in spending a few hours in studying the results?” (265).
and the words I liked:
-Elysian fields (173)
-“[S]imple, hardy flowers…forget-me-nots, schizanthus, nemesia, and sweet peas” (212).
-“I would suggest the little purple vetch, the ragged robin, the scarlet pimpernel, and the speedwell” (222).