Between Gardens

April 22nd, 2009  |  Published in Book Reviews

Observations on Gardening, Friendship and Disability
by Carol Graham Chudley and Dorothy Field
Polestar Book Publishers,
S.C.. $24.95, 240 pp.

The letters capture ephemeral moments and chronicle a special time in the women’s lives while also giving the reader insights into gardening and nature.

Although they were neighbours, Carol’s idea to share observations, perceptions and gardening hints the old-fashioned way, on paper, proved to be inspirational. This is made poignant by the fact that one of the gardeners dies before the book is published, heightening the readers’ awareness of the fleeting bloom of life and the need to make every moment, and every season, count.

If Dorothy’s name sounds familiar, it may be because she was one of the six poets I reviewed in Threshold, Six Women, Six Poets, edited by Rona Murray, in November, 1999. A traveler, paper maker, and teacher as well as a gardener and writer, Dorothy delights in combining several of her passions into one venture: friendship, paper making, photography, gardening, and writing are all blended in this book. Carol, also living in Sidney, created gardens and galleries that were well frequented by friends, artists and guests especially before her debilitating illness. She was a potter and teacher as well, also drawing many visitors to her studio.

In addition to their letters and observations, selections from a journal that Carol kept, documenting her illness and her feelings toward it, have been inserted into the book in order to give the reader more insight. Without these journal selections you would hardly be aware that Carol’s life had been so drastically altered and restricted, as her letters to Dorothy are always insightful, sensitive and full of the joy of life. The addition of these journal entries provides another level to the book.

I can think of several friends whom I’ll be buying and sharing this book with.

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