What I’m Reading!


Mrs. Whaley and her Charleston Garden is a delightful, page-turning book. All gardeners should read this book. If you’re not a gardener, then buy it for a gardening friend.

Published in 1997, it’s charming and extremely entertaining. It’s one of those books that I wish would never end. I’ve actually forced myself to set it down knowing that if I keep reading it will turn into a “quick read.”

Charleston is my favorite southern city, and for those of you who have visited there or live there or near there, you’ll revel in Mrs. Whaley’s southern charm narrative.

There are 24 used on Amazon ($2.50 & up and 18 new). Click here to see.

Just a sprinkling from the book flap:

Emily Whaley’s garden measures only 30 feet by 110 feet. It seems to hide behind her eighteenth-century clapboard house, but it’s ancient wrought-iron gate pushes open easily–if with a barely audible moan–to allow the visitor access. From there, a brick alleyway leads to what The New York Times  has described as “peaceful, understated series of outdoor rooms with an oval of grass as simple as a haiku.”

Join eighty-six year old Mrs. Whaley as she takes you on a magical guided tour of her pride and joy: one of the most visited private gardens in America.



3 thoughts on “What I’m Reading!

  1. You may also like Paradise Under Glass: An Amateur Creates a Conservatory Garden by Ruth Kassinger. I read it earlier this year and couldn’t put it down.

  2. That’s what I’ve designed for my (smaller than hers) back yard. Brick and a series of rooms.

    I have a brick path from the side gate with the first room being to the right under my bay dining room window. I call it “Caesar’s Garden” because that is where my dog loved to lie, under the window in the shade on the cool dirt. It’s shady and I put some annuals in there.

    Then I have a round brick patio with a fountain in the middle and three curved concrete benches. By the kitchen there is a rosemary bush a few roses, a Bay tree (from which I harvest bay) and areas for a small vegetable garden and herbs. On the other side of the circle areas for more roses.

    There is a lemon tree by the garage and a small, short path leading to the back area that has a large oval brick patio. Eventually I’ll have a fire pit with some chairs and an umbrella in this area. Or maybe an outdoor dining table. On the north side I plan to espalier fruit trees along the garage between the lemon tree and an apricot tree I have on the other corner of the garage. That corner also has a small fountain, currently taken down as I need the fence in that corner rebuilt. The south side has a bench and two columnar apple trees in very large pots. There is some wild grass there not but it has to come out. It’s too big for the space. There’s only about 18-24 inches between the patio and fence so I need to plant something else.

    At the very back I have a small pergola against the fence at the alley with a raised patio area. I have a hammock there. Caesar used to sleep under the hammock when I was in it.

    Between the garage and the house north of the circular patio I have another pergola with hanging pots. The dog house is there and I’ll put some outdoor furniture there eventually too, some chairs and couches.

    So three patio areas plus the pathway surrounded by plantings. I think of them as rooms.

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