Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Jamaica in winter

That's Jamaica Kincaid, author of My Garden (Book), published a decade ago. Her thoughts on winter in the garden: "It is winter and so my garden does not exist; in its place are these mounds of white, the raised beds covered with snow, like a graveyard ... The snow covers the ground in the garden with the determination of death, an unyielding grip, and the whiteness of it is an eraser, so that I am almost in a state of disbelief." Kincaid grew up in Antigua, so, as they say, she's entitled. She lives in Vermont now, and she hates the chill, the snow, the - as she puts it - erasing of winter, though how could she not love this hydrangea in December? Reading her book last week, I was impressed - if that's the word - by Kincaid's rambunctious spending. The woman's appetite for buying plants knows few boundaries. She orders with impunity from catalogues. She scours local and faraway nurseries. She even goes on plant-finding expeditions to China - and she doesn't do this for a living! All I can say is, she must have a lot of property and a big bank account. Still, she's restless: "I shall never have the garden I have in my mind, but that for me is the joy of it; certain things can never be realized and so all the more reason to attempt them. A garden, no matter how good it is, must never completely satisfy. The world as we know it, after all, began in a very good garden, a completely satisfying garden - Paradise - but after a while, the owner and the occupants wanted more." So there you have it. Permission to obsess.

Jamaica in winter

Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)
Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)

That's Jamaica Kincaid, author of My Garden (Book), published a decade ago. Her thoughts on winter in the garden: "It is winter and so my garden does not exist; in its place are these mounds of white, the raised beds covered with snow, like a graveyard ... The snow covers the ground in the garden with the determination of death, an unyielding grip, and the whiteness of it is an eraser, so that I am almost in a state of disbelief." Kincaid grew up in Antigua, so, as they say, she's entitled. She lives in Vermont now, and she hates the chill, the snow, the - as she puts it - erasing of winter, though how could she not love this hydrangea in December? Reading her book last week, I was impressed - if that's the word - by Kincaid's rambunctious spending. The woman's appetite for buying plants knows few boundaries. She orders with impunity from catalogues. She scours local and faraway nurseries. She even goes on plant-finding expeditions to China - and she doesn't do this for a living! All I can say is, she must have a lot of property and a big bank account. Still, she's restless: "I shall never have the garden I have in my mind, but that for me is the joy of it; certain things can never be realized and so all the more reason to attempt them. A garden, no matter how good it is, must never completely satisfy. The world as we know it, after all, began in a very good garden, a completely satisfying garden - Paradise - but after a while, the owner and the occupants wanted more." So there you have it. Permission to obsess.

About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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