Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Henry Mitchell
I have started re-reading one of my favorite garden writers, Henry Mitchell, who used to write for the Washington Post.  When I first moved to Washington, D.C. in the 1970s I started reading his "Earthman" column in the Post.  My best friend Patty and I used to love his columns so much and talked about them often, even after she moved to Portland in 1978. We would talk about and plan our gardens even before we had gardens. When his books came out we gave them to each other as gifts. I first heard of hyacinth beans from him, and how to plan a garden on paper. It was because of him that I started keeping records of when things bloom year to year. I think the first column I remember of his was about daffodils and it is because of him that I plant the daffodil "Cheerfulness" in my garden.  I learned about the  Bishop's Garden at the National Cathedral and Dumbarton Oaks from Henry Mitchell, and they are two of my very favorite places.  I haven't read him for awhile and it was such a pleasure to pick up The Essential Earthman again and rediscover all the gems inside. Here is a favorite passage:

"There are no green thumbs or black thumbs. There are only gardeners and non-gardeners. Gardeners are the ones who ruin after ruin get on with the high defiance of nature herself, creating, in the very face of her chaos and tornado, the bower of roses and the pride of irises. It sounds very well to garden a "natural way." You may see the natural way in any desert, any swamp, any leech-filled laurel hell. Defiance, on the other hand, is what makes gardeners."

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. Makes me want to read one of his books.