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Kent Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 18 February 2014 by Tim Ingram

Pasque Flowers and Marsh Arabs

Pasque Flowers & Marsh Arabs

Sometimes something worthwhile comes through the letterbox. This morning there arrived Kit Grey-Wilson's long awaited book on Pasque Flowers and a catalogue from Eland publishing. Why should I relate these two you might ask? As a student in London I used to take the bus to Wisley on occasions, and one of the first books I bought (out of a fairly limited student grant) was Kit's AGS Guide to Dionysias. I have rarely grown these, and don't have the strength of botanical understanding of them that many AGS members will have, but I have always been drawn to that detailed exploration of plants that this book describes. The same is true of many of the AGS publications, especially those that are practically oriented such as Duncan Lowe's 'Growing Alpines in Raised Beds, Troughs and Tufa'. It is only now after forty years or more of growing alpines on and off that I am actually understanding what Duncan Lowe says - ie: I am a very slow learner.

So what about Eland publishing and 'A Reed Shaken by the Wind' by Gavin Maxwell? The film 'A Ring of Bright Water', based on another of his books, has equal wonder to the study of alpine plants, and captured my attention at the same time in my teens. And travel books by naturalists such as W. H. Hudson, Gerald Durrell, Kingdon Ward and Patrick Synge are what properly bring the world to life when you may have less ability yourself to discover the same things yourself. Eland publishing specialise in such books, and Maxwell's description of his time amongst the Marsh Arabs with Wilfred Thesinger is the most vivid account of people and a way of life I have ever read. Books like these really expand the mind and I hope Kit will allow me to relate the two even though I have hardly opened a page and read more of his book. I just very much look forward to doing so and learning about a genus of alpine plants which are so beautiful and so appealing to gardeners as well as those with strong botanical insights. Most of all I want to grow more species of pulsatilla in the garden and introduce them, amongst many other alpines, to gardeners who just don't realise the diversity and fascination of these plants (just as few people will ever take in the writing of naturalists such as Gavin Maxwell).

Pasque Flowers & Marsh Arabs
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