Jamaica in winter

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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.

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