With the very hot temperatures that we are having in Canterbury this week, you might be, like me, watering plants in the cool of the evening and early morning, and reading during the hot part of the day.
A book which I am thrilled to have on my shelf, and which also sits on my niece’s shelf in France, is the story of a New Zealand family man and his garden, the renowned Gordon Collier.
When I have been talking about Gordon’s book, “Bell’s Junction Where’s That?” to friends and family, I have said that I think this is an important book which should be read by many generations of New Zealanders, both gardeners and non gardeners to come.
In her review of Gordon’s book, the well known Irish gardener, Helen Dillon, said: (and I couldn’t think of a better way to sum up my thoughts)
“... I must congratulate you on your wonderful book. It is a very happy book – a lovely combination of plants and people and stories and beautiful landscapes and happy smiles and beautiful children. Love the picture of you and the enormous myosotidium, the picture of you getting the Associate of Honour, you in Western Australia – the Auckland Islands – gosh how thrilling – the picture of the native plants mostly from the Chatham Islands and especially the Mount Ruapehu picture – so beautifully serene, and ‘the girl in the blue velvet coat’ and the Clydesdale horses...
I think it is a wonderful book for recording a happy family, the land, gardens, clothes, many countries and primarily, it records you as the wonderful gardener and person you are.”
Although written primarily for his grandchildren, retelling stories from his schooling at tiny and remote Bell’s Junction school, his year working in one of New Zealand’s most beautiful private gardens, and his horticultural training at Massey College, it is in the later chapters that Gordon “digs the dirt”, lifting some “horticultural lids”, and discusses the merits of garden design versus plantsmanship. Gordon doesn’t think that gardens should have all the charm of a dentist’s waiting room.
Illustrated with talent, this book retails at $50.00, making it a very attractive gift for oneself or a friend or family member. I am hoping that my grandchildren will read this book in years to come.Photo 1: The cover is the Karl Maughan painting of Titoki Point.
(Click the images to enlarge or view the gallery)