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Down the Garden Path (1932)

por Beverley Nichols

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

Séries: Allways Trilogy (#1)

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376869,525 (3.87)30
Down the Garden Path has stood the test of time as one of the world's best-loved and most-quoted gardening books. From a disaster building a rock garden, to further adventures with greenhouses, woodland gardens, not to mention cats and treacle, Nichols has left us a true gardening classic.
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I read this book as a result of hearing it discussed on the Tea or Books podcast. It's an interesting read, as it doesn't fit into one genre. I would say it comes closest to memoir, but in a very niche way. The author, Beverley Nichols, details his purchase of a cottage and garden, and his succeeding adventures in getting things to grow and interacting with the neighbors.

I would say that there's something a bit Wodehousian about his writing, except that I think he is sharper of tongue. He's clever, but sometimes he seems mean or superior about himself. While reading, I would just about decide that I didn't really like him, but then would come some poetic, fervent rhapsodies on his garden, and I would dither back toward liking him. I really wonder how he would have come across in real life.

At any rate, this was a relaxing, pleasant read that really did enhance my appreciation for the hobby of gardening and the delight it can bring people. ( )
  Alishadt | Feb 25, 2023 |
Dean Robert - in one of his last days as Dean of Canterbury Cathedral - mentions this book - as connecting the gardener w creation
Nb must edit this entry further: read it long before 2022 ... could check book itself for clues ( )
  Overgaard | May 15, 2022 |
Where can I access book for online read?
  clwh | Jul 19, 2020 |
Way back sometime in the 1970s – when I was a very little girl, but already in love with books I read a book called The Tree that Sat Down by Beverley Nichols. I loved every word of that little book and have remembered it ever since. I even remembered the author (as a child I thought Beverley Nichols was a woman, and it was many years before I discovered my mistake). I think we carry the books we loved as children with us somewhere – though I’m hopeless at remembering the titles of many of them now. That was pretty much my only experience of Beverley Nichols – until many years later – a few blogging friends began sharing their love of his adult books, their enthusiasm ensuring that I soon acquired some for myself.

Beverley Nichols was an enormously prolific writer – journalism, politics, autobiography and novels. Though some of his most popular works seem to have been his books of gardening and house restoration. Down the Garden Path is the first book in one of the two gardening trilogies that Nichols produced. A book about gardening restoration is not something I would usually read, but there was something very appealing about this trilogy. Having heard such wonderful things about Nichol’s warm witty writing from other readers, it seemed a good place to start. However, I think I probably have the best books still to read, as it seems some people believe the other gardening trilogy starting with Merry Hall is better than this one. Yet, I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

“I bought my cottage by sending a wireless to Timbuctoo from the Mauretania, at midnight, with a fierce storm lashing the decks.
It sounds rather vulgar, but it is true.”

In the early 1930’s Beverley Nichols was already a well-known writer – still quite a young man, he also had a passion for gardens, and it would seem, enough money to buy a cottage with large gardens in the country. This book tells the story of the garden (and cottage) he bought in Cambridgeshire. It and the two sequels which follow were illustrated by Rex Whistler – and were a huge success.

Having quite rashly bought his cottage – because of the gardens he knew came with it –Beverley hurried down to view his new house, hardly able to wait to see the garden. He is met by Arthur – a strange, oddly behaved servant who provides him with uneatable food and stays in bed all morning. The garden however, which Beverley remembered so well has been sadly neglected, and is nothing like it had been. He is devastated, but the immediately starts putting it to rights, planning how it will look, researching in detail winter flowers, so that there is always flowers in his garden. It is a labour of love.

“It was not till I experimented with seeds plucked straight from a growing plant that I had my first success…the first thrill of creation…the first taste of blood. This, surely, must be akin to the pride of paternity…indeed, many soured bachelors would wager that it must be almost as wonderful to see the first tiny crinkled leaves of one’s first plant as to see the tiny crinkled face of one’s first child.”

Nichols writes deliciously about his garden, his descriptions are glorious, his passion for his flowers is infectious. Despite not being a gardener – or even all that knowledgeable about flowers I found myself quite happily caught up in Nichol’s enthusiasm and as someone who has been known to push a few daff bulbs into my garden soil and sit in my zero-gravity chair with a cup of tea and book on a sunny day I found myself oddly able to fully appreciate the glory in the appearance of little garden miracles. Though even while he is describing the glories of nature and his simple, never ending joy in the miracle of mother-nature – he can’t resist a little cheeky humour on the side.

“The seed of a blue lupin will usually produce a blue lupin. But the seed of a blue-eyed man may produce a brown-eyed bore…especially if his wife has a taste for gigolos.”

However probably the best parts of this book are Nichol’s mischievous portraits of some of his neighbours. We never get to know these people as well as I would have liked but, he is rather funny about them all – Mrs M, Miss W, Miss X (we never learn their full names either). One of his visitor; hilariously described, an affected woman, who makes much of her apparent tininess and feminine weakness. Another neighbour, Mrs M becomes Nichols’s rival and nagging thorn in his side. She finds something to criticise in everything he does, and Beverley presumably makes himself feel better by writing about her with such scathingly sharp wit. We even meet his parents who visit him in his country home.

It is Beverley Nichols simple joy for life that is so adorable here. I am really looking forward to reading a lot by him now. ( )
1 vote Heaven-Ali | Apr 2, 2018 |
Kept having to remind myself to pick it up, got 1/2way, and gave up.  Of more interest to those who actually garden.  Characters are sketches, 'plot' is so very haphazard that it's easier to say it doesn't exist.  Also, even if I ever do have a garden, my emphasis will be on American vegetables, not snowdrops and saxifrage and mushrooms....
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
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Beverley Nicholsautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Rex WhistlerIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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I bought my cottage by sending a wireless to Timbuctoo from the Mauretania, at midnight, with a fierce storm lashing the decks.
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The best gardening books should be written by those who still have to search their brains for the honeysuckle's languid Latin name.
This is one of the delights of being a gardener. Whatever the weather, however sportive the elements, you can always console yourself by the thought that it is indeed an ill-wind that blows no plant any good.
I covered a wide shallow tin box, about 2 foot square, with a piece of wine-coloured velvet. Then I picked a mass of deep red carnations - the old-fashioned type with quantities of buds, and stalks only about 2 inches long. I pushed the stalks through the velvet, and long before the job was done I had to rush out and get people to look at it, because it was so beautiful. I put the finished box on a very low miniature gate-leg table. It was so ravishingly lovely that my week-end party grew quite hysterical, and everybody began to make good resolutions, and swear eternal friendship, and that sort of thing.
Every poor man's garden, in a city, is a sweet but pitiful illustration of some faint striving after beauty ... In these flowery prisons he finds release - sees visions in a window box ... This restless longing for a few green leaves, which lies always in the heart of very poor people ...
There, underneath a tangle of ivy, sweet-briar, honeysuckle and jasmine, was a little bunch of grapes. True,the grapes were green and not much larger than peas. But the bunch was perfectly formed, and it hung its head delicately, as though it were diffident that it had been discovered.
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Down the Garden Path has stood the test of time as one of the world's best-loved and most-quoted gardening books. From a disaster building a rock garden, to further adventures with greenhouses, woodland gardens, not to mention cats and treacle, Nichols has left us a true gardening classic.

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