Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mirabel, a memoir and a wonderful surprise

I got home from work this evening to the usual paraphernalia of home life - pile of mail (hmm), delivery of plants (oooh!), various school communications which demanded my immediate attention (aargh). I'm sure you know the sort of thing.
I admired my plants (Euphorbia characias 'Portuguese Velvet', since you ask) and turned to the mail. In the pile was a package which looked as if it contained books. Goodness, plants and books. How lovely! Could life get any better? Yes, it could.
In the package was a copy of The Rain Tree, the memoir by Mirabel Osler which has just been published by Bloomsbury. With it was a paperback edition of A Gentle Plea for Chaos, which Bloomsbury have simultaneously republished (it's been out of print for years).
Many of you will know the work of Mirabel Osler, a writer who could make a shopping list seem lyrical. If you don't know it, here's your chance to be totally beguiled by someone who speaks to - and for - the silent poet that lurks in every gardening soul.
In the way of a taster, I offer you this extract from A Gentle Plea for Chaos:
"There are many ways of starting a garden. Abstract ideas may originate in the mind, and are then meticulously transferred to paper, when every bed is plotted for colour, shape and size before the first plant goes in. Another impetus may come from a cherished longing to have one area of your own, where no one can constrain you and where no conformity compromises your imagination.
"Or, after the culmination of years spent hoarding articles and seed catalogues, the gardener knows already what needs to be done. Yet others may be haunted by childhood memories of magic places of make-believe, of games, scents and secrets. Gardens may start from a bare piece of earth surrounding a newly built house, or from the sheer necessity of hiding some hideous building, or maybe from a desire for self-protection from sea and tempests. Others need a little space for sitting in the sun, for hanging out the washing, where children can play or just where the cat naps.
"Whatever it is, once started a garden holds you in its thrall. However irksome it becomes at times, who can go outside and kick a lily?"
Hope you enjoyed it. I'm off to read my book.