Friday, August 22, 2014

Virginia Woolf's Garden

“Our garden is a perfect variegated chintz…asters, plumasters, zinnas, geums, nasturtiums…all bright, stiff, upstanding, cut from brightly coloured paper as flowers should be.” ~~Virginia Woolf

This is just my kind of book. English garden, literary references, gorgeous photographs...Virginia Woolf. This is a  book about Monk's House, the Sussex garden that inspired Virginia Woolf,  and where she lived with her husband Leonard (of Bloomsbury fame) from 1919 until their deaths (Virginia's suicide in 1941 and Leonard's death in 1969).  Author Carolyn Zoob had a unique perspective as she and her husband lived at Monk’s House for ten years beginning in 2000 and helped to restore the garden as tenants under the National Trust, as well as welcoming visitors to the house and garden twice a week.

Virginia in the garden

 Unlike her close friend Vita Sackville-West, Virginia was not a gardener. The garden was a pleasure and an inspiration for her, but Leonard was the gardener,  designing and executing detailed garden plans, building brick pathways and borders and stone walls, planting yew hedges,  grafting fruit trees, and working into the garden well into his eighties.

Zoob shares Leonard's garden plans, as well as anecdotes about the daily life of Virginia and Leonard. Virginia's favorite color was green and she liked to paint her rooms green.  They loved having breakfast in the small kitchen with the door open to a brick terrace. They argued about Leonard building a greenhouse. In photographs, passages from Virginia's diaries and letters, and in embroidered pictures of the garden she created while living in the house, the author brings to life the garden so lovingly created and tended by Leonard, and enjoyed by Virginia.

'L is doing the rhododendrons' ~~ was the last diary entry Virginia made before putting stones in her pockets and jumping into the nearby river Ouse.

The view from the kitchen, oh for a view like this every morning!

These embroideries done by the author are just amazing.

Detail of embroidered garden 

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