Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Pretty Garden Books

Hello friends! It's been a long while between posts for me here. I have been folded up into my own snug cocoon for the long winter months and feel like spring has finally awakened me a little. I have needed the rest and haven't minded the general isolation of our times. 

The light and warmth has given me a subtle lift. Do you feel the same? I am slowly gathering up to something nameless, like the deep stretch of a dumb creature emerging from the depths. The bright morning of this room always calls to me, and I have spread out a few things to feed the spirit.  

I have been working up to messing with watercolors. It's all process, and I have been looking to favorite artists for inspiration. I have a decent collection of pretty books to guide me: some old, some new, all garden and nature themed. I have pulled together just a few for you.

Some of you may remember IN AND OUT OF THE GARDEN. My edition is from 1981.  There are still a lot of used versions floating around. I recently got one on Ebay to give away. The Country Diary Herbal is in the back, which has Edith Holden's illustrations, and others, alongside the text. A beautiful book.

I have tucked in a sprig between pages of the HERBAL for you to see.

The second-hand "In And Out" had an inscription, as used books often do, that looked artful enough to me too. It adds a bit of mystery and character. Otherwise it was apparent that the original owner had hardly cracked the book.

But I have always been enchanted with the art and drawings on its pages. I am giving the merest sample of what you find. It's lush and highly detailed in miniature, and a wonderful way to get lost in garden lore.

I pulled it out again to get me stoked on painting techniques. Every day or so I put a few dabs on paper. 

I am trying to do lilacs. (These are mine.) (You can tell. 😊)

Even if you only peruse a page or two a day, you will be delighted!

On my field walk yesterday I saw someone at a distance that looked exactly like this as he worked with a hoe in the vast public gardens, alone with his thoughts.

I have a freebie day book that I got as a giveaway from B&N during the holidays that I jot in everyday. It is not carefully kept. It is mostly full of reminders and notes to do since my short term memory is shot lately. Now and then I write down a quote from something I have read. And now I will pepper the pages with little drawings. A little dabbling makes me feel as cheery as a grade schooler! 

This is my new portable paint box from Winsor & Newton.

I have a couple of new titles that I discovered on IG from a British blogger, Miranda Mills Bookcase. I found The Cottage Book there, and Old Herbaceous.

The Cottage Book is from the diary of an Edwardian gentleman who wrote about his English country house with his wife. It is illustrated by Philip Snow whose wildlife art and writing are also found on his website here.  It's a very nice collaboration from 1999.

Old Herbaceous is suited for those who admire the written word as much as they admire gardens. Originally printed in 1951, it is now a part of the Modern Library Garden Series. I have enjoyed meandering through its pages as much as a wander through my local fields. 

"Young Herbert sat down on the bank with his bucket and, as many a gardener has done, mourned that he couldn't pack all summer into one August afternoon."

I love the cover art too!

The Hedgerow Handbook was recommended by Marian of Miss Mustard Seed. The introduction gives a delightful history of hedgerows in which the author states," I want this book to be a trigger for memories: of a summer filled with hot sunny days; or of the time you got drenched in a sudden rain shower miles away from the warmth and dryness of your car or home, which made that hard-earned blackberry pie even more enjoyable."

The book has wonderful drawings and lots of information about the uses of plants.

I had pulled a few things out for Easter, but I might use this cheery casserole dish as a catchall for awhile. The bunny ear lid feels nice in the hand.

My poor Oxalis has seen better days, but she is an old faithful and will spring back soon with a little better care and feeding.

As pretty from the back as the front!

This is an especially soothing basket of stone eggs left out from Easter that are hefty and smooth with a bit of a flat side so that they don't roll. They make a great worry stone at your work table!

The paper cover...

And the cloth binding in white.

The new used one is a lovely sage green. (I may need them both! haha!)

I found an old tissue from Crabtree & Evelyn tucked into my own old copy.

Another of my heroes is Susan Branch, the illustrator, who has a wonderful blog you may already know about here. Her most recent post is about dealing with her own recent "black cloud" that kept her away from blogging for a time. But she writes such an enjoyable blog all of the time!

I hope you are enjoying the fullness of the season in your own way wherever you are. . . .

My best to you from the Land of Enchantment,

and wishing you still brighter days ahead,




  1. Those are lovely garden books. I love to look at similar books that I have here at home.

  2. Where to begin! Well, first, I am so glad you are "back" on blog -- I have missed you and worried a bit, knowing that it has been a very challenging year for you in ways beyond what some of us have experienced. And I'm thrilled to see you are picking up watercolor! You have picked some fine artists as inspirations -- I had several of Midda's books and you can't go wrong with Country Diary. I don't know the others but would like to --they look lovely. I'm glad you are using Windsor-Newton, a good company with quality paints and they do make a difference. Good paint and good paper is so important. You can perfect your drawing skills with anything but if you are going to spend the time to paint and do it well, I recommend good materials.

    Your world is looking brighter and that makes me very happy for you.

  3. How sweet are these books. I bet you are loving being creative and painting. I think we all feel we are emerging again from a long winter stuck inside. Glad to see a post pop up for you. I have missed seeing your pretties. Have a great rest of the week. xoxo

  4. What a lovely post. And, I totally understand the reluctance to try to cobble together an interior post. Winter is still hanging tight in Chicagoland with cold temps...and the lack of sunshine keeps one down for sure. Lovely books, and definitely get outside, I'm lucky I can spend a few hours in our greenhouse, with my veggie and flower starts. I will keep my eye out for those gorgeous books! Sandi

  5. We have spring weather on some days and a retreat back to cold on others. We are loving our tulips and daffodils. Your photos are so lovely and peaceful with all the shabby white items you surround yourself with - I especially love the Staffordshire dogs! All your displays are dreamy!

  6. Your painting is lovely. Worthy of framing. I always find your posts so relaxing to read. I thank you for that. Love your bunny and your books.

  7. Jacqueline, it is good to see you back. This has been a hard time, I get some comments that seem to say that I shouldn't feel this way, that I should be out shopping and wandering wherever without masks or such but I actually feel happier doing what I am doing. This thing that has happened to us is not a joke and I feel the sooner we all see that the better off we will all be. I love your sweet books and I will be perusing Amazon to see if I can't add them to my library as I have done, on your recommendations, in the past. I admire the little watercolor sketches in journals, such as Susan Branch (I love her) and have dabbled with doing them but have not had much luck. I have found some small paint by number cottage scenes that I will be trying next. It is fun to have little projects that are not really important but do fill up a day's time. Thank you for always reminding me of all the beauty that can be had while still tending to life as it should be..Stay well..xxoJudy

  8. Oh my gosh...I have those very same books and can't ever let them go !!! In and Out is a favorite and so charming, sweet, simple.... Good for you on trying the water colors, you are brave and gifted too.

    I also am content with the staying at home and have done numerous projects, such as cleaning the basement.....garage sales coming soon. I still love the other garden book diary, can't bring the name to mind right now, the one with every month listed out by day. Those are wonderful paintings. Susan Branch is also a fav as is Marjolijn Bastion. probably spelled that wrong too !!!

    Had a dr. appt. the other day and found myself being resentful that I had to go out and leave my home..... Happy Spring !!!

  9. Welcome back Jacqueline! Loved today’s post and you reminded me of my own copy of IN AND OUT OF THE GARDEN. I smiled as I realized I own that book and am anxiously looking forward to spending some time in it again. I must admit I had to remove the jacket to see what color I own and was delighted find the lovely sage green! πŸ’š

  10. Such a bright, pretty place. I think your lilac watercolors are beautiful!

  11. Such a lovely post, Jacqueline. I've been picking up some beginners water color books, so I am just starting out on this journey. It's been a fun, and interesting venue for me. I so enjoy your photos, and everything you write...your entries are always soothing to the soul. xo

  12. Beautiful post! I don't garden much -- I only have a small patio, so I just grow a few things in pots. But I adore trees, birds, and flowers, so your gardening books and lovely transferware appeal to me.

    I've never tried watercolor, but your lilacs are sweet. I hope you'll keep experimenting!

  13. I have an Oxalis in my garden that I thought was dead, but I think it is beginning to revive. Whew! I love them.
    I also love all the books you shared and wished I had them all. During this pandemic I picked up the watercolors too and have been painting on used teabags. I just feels good to hold the brush again and play a bit. Love your lilac.
    I have one vintage wildflower book that I am using for inspiration. Beatrix Potter also inspires me. And yes, I love Susan Branch too.

  14. Hi πŸ‘‹ I been following you for a long time I can’t remember when, I love your style, and you’re a great writer too!
    Love your books, I love books as well and I also paint.
    God bless you πŸ™.
    Blanca M.


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