Garden Diary - May 2022

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Gardens of the Garden State by Nancy Berner and Susan Lowry
photographs by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls
a book review
Saturday, 7 May 2022

The Garden Conservancy's Open Gardens for 2022 is about to start up, presenting the opportunity to visit delightful gardens across the country. Each garden has a descriptive paragraph written by its owner. Having been garden visiting for several years some of the gardens are familiar (and well worth a return visit.)

The price of gasoline fluctuating upwards suggests a prudent itinerary, selecting gardens reasonably close to home. For me, this means New Jersey and that portion of Pennsylvania just across the Delaware River. I was delighted to come across

Gardens of the Garden State

which offers multi-page descriptions and generous photography of 29 gardens both private and public. It matters not that it was published several years ago - as long as the gardens are still extant. And still participating in the Open Days program. A good book may stay in print well beyond its release date.

Of course an easy (and simple) way to evaluate the book is to compare the authors' presentation, garden descriptions, and their photographs with what I recall.

There's an opportunity to visit Bird Haven Farm tomorrow, Sunday May 8 2022. I have previously been there twice before, both times in autumn, 2017 and 2019. Wonderful! The book provides a history, a background, the foundation for what I have seen, will see such as

old apple orchard

goose foot garden beds

sitting area in grassy meadow greensward

We're in sync. What the authors describe and what I recall are in harmony. What they provide
is background that allows me understand how this garden was developed, how it came to be.

The public gardens presented in Gardens of the Garden State - Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, Van Vleck House and Gardens, Reeves-Reed Arboretum, Willowwood Arboretum and a handful more are places to visit perhaps even on the spur of the moment. Arboreta are wonderful at any time of year, but timing can be everything for some gardens.

May is when you want to visit

the Presby Iris Gardens and enjoy the rainbow of flowers

or go to enjoy the luxuriant wisteria at Van Vleck

The real value of this book comes with the ability to look up unfamiliar, new and unknown gardens one is thinking of visiting. Granted that any day in a garden is better than a day elsewhere, some gardens are more entertaining than others- new plants, familiar plants combined in new and interesting ways. Perhaps I shall carry the book along with me as I visit gardens it describes, and seek an autograph upon the proper page(s.)

Gardens of the Garden State Nancy Berner and Susan Lowry
photographs by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls
published by The Monacelli Press
Hardcover, ISBN: 978-158093-3742
published 2014, $50

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

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