Gardening for a Lifetime by Sydney Eddison

Let me begin by saying I read "Gardening for a Lifetime" by Sydney Eddison in 2 days. Yes, we are snowed in and there isn't much to do but read, work in the shed, go to the gym and clean out closets - but, still - it is a lovely read.

Eddison is an east coast gardener, at least 78 years old, and this, her 7th book is a summary of her garden helpers, her helpmate hubby, and her many garden transitions. They lived on the same property for 50 years, a property that fronted public lands, affording them considerable privacy.

The subtitle of the book is, "How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older" and Eddison talks about reducing the number of perennials and replacing them with shrubs and small trees.

It is indeed a lovely read for those of us who can no longer put 16 hours a day into the garden. Our garden work days end long before that.

Here's what Timber Press has to say about the book -
"The garden has been an everyday part of Sydney Eddison's life for over forty years. It has witnessed the changing of seasons, her greatest joys, and her deepest sorrows. The garden and the gardener have aged and changed together. Gardening for a Lifetime is a touching memoir about having to scale back after widowhood and painful joints made it impossible to keep up with a large country garden.

Intermixing personal experience with practical gardening tips, Eddison has written an encouraging road map for accepting and embracing a new and simpler way of gardening. Elegant black and white illustrations evoke Eddison's everyday joy, sorrow, and contentment in the garden. Gentle, personable, and practical, Gardening for a Lifetime helps transform gardening from a list of daunting chores into the rewarding, joy-filled activity it was meant to be."

There is also an interview with Eddison here

May 21, 2010

"Everything in my landscape has changed all around me in 49 years," garden designer and writer Sydney Eddison said last week.

And that includes herself.

Speaking at a meeting of the Connecticut Horticultural Society, Eddison joked that she had a new "bionic hip," a new "bionic eye" and another bionic eye coming up.

"This is my first fling since I really started falling apart," she laughed.

Eddison's seventh book came out this month. Titled "Gardening for a Lifetime: How To Garden Wiser as You Grow Older" [Timber Press, 204 pages, $19.95], it chronicles how she has come to terms with the passage of time. As she grew older, she wasn't as able to do as much in her renowned garden in Newtown. She needed more help. She needed to simplify. She took out many perennials and replaced them with shrubs and grasses, which require less maintenance.

Her book is packed with insights — she calls them "gleanings" — that readers will find helpful, whether they're nearing a certain age or simply trying to plan their gardens well.

In her book, she also delves deeply into her personal sorrows, particularly the loss of her husband, Martin, and how the garden reflects that.

But her talk last week was downright merry.

She reminisced about what she and Martin found when they first moved to Newtown: High brush grew right up to the door.
"I had no idea I was making a garden, but I knew one thing, and it was that all that raggedy stuff had to go."

Though Martin was a non-gardener — he didn't like the labor, the climate, the bugs or the snakes (and there were a lot of them) — he climbed on their Gravely tractor and "bravely charged into the bush," helping her clear the land for what would become a breath-stopping showpiece.

"I simply loved digging," she said. "I like getting sweaty and dirty." And once the land was clear, she went "mad."

Showing slides that chronicled the progression of changes in the garden — from decade to decade, from year to year and from season to season — Eddison wove in numerous amusing anecdotes and asides.

In the garden's island bed, Eddison had planted a beautiful cherry tree — Prunus Hally Jolivette — in 1976, in memory of her mother. It was at the peak of bloom about 15 years later when "crusty" Harvard horticulturist Joseph Hudak came for a visit.

"Please let him say something really nice about the garden," Eddison recalled wishing.

Anyone know the significance of this clock - with two 12s and two 6s?


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