Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

“Beautiful At All Seasons: Southern Gardening and Beyond,” by Elizabeth Lawrence. Duke University Press. 2007. 238 pp. $24.95.By Mary Rice Patterson
For the Salisbury Post
We all love beautiful gardens, from the large, very formal ones to the small corner lot.
Elizabeth Lawrence began a weekly column blending gardening lore and horticultural expertise from her own gardens in Charlotte and Raleigh. “Beautiful At All Seasons: Southern Gardening and Beyond,” contains 132 of her columns. You will recognize many of the plants: sweet peas, peonies and bulbs which grew outside her window.
Many times she will include poetry as she describes her flowers. She talks of borders of daylilies and phlox that take care of themselves. She also advises what to plant for early spring such as Florentine iris and cherry-colored tulips and a dear shrub that flowers along with the almond, such as the Peruvian lilac.She advises having paths for walking broad enough for two people to walk abreast. The walkway doesn’t need to be paved but she liked to have steps for different levels. She suggested they should be in odd numbers three better than two and five better than four; if there is a long flight, it should be broken with a landing.
This book is filled with unusual facts. If you’re not even a gardener, you will enjoy reading about these plants and herbs. The author visited a woman who had the biggest and most floriferous dandelions she had ever seen, grown from Burpee’s seed, grown to be used in salads. French country people eat the roots, and when dried, the roots can be made into a substitute for coffee or can be made into tea or wine.
In writing about trees, she tells of many myths about the ash, called the World Tree. In Scandinavian mythology, it is the symbol of existence, the origin of fate and the source of knowledge. She also talks of the tale of the magical hawthorne tree which dates back to the age of Chaucer when men worshiped trees and believed in tree spirits. She compares many pagan beliefs and customs to the way they were related and changed as Christianity spread through England.”Tennyson wrote of the Lenten Lily but the earlier poets Spenser, Shakespeare and Herrick called the trumpet narcissus the daffodil. It is also called the Lenten rose.”
For the most part this book is for the real, avid gardener The author includes the Latin names for all the flowers and trees and has done great research to document her material.
Elizabeth Lawrence was the author of “A Southern Garden” and several other books as well as many other writings for newspapers, magazines and gardening bulletins.
A graduate of Barnard College, she was the first woman to receive a degree in landscape architecture from North Carolina State College (now N.C. State University). Lawrence was awarded the Herbert Medal of the American Plant Life Society in 1943 and was honored by the Horticultural Society and the National Council of State Garden Clubs for her writing.
This book is a real treasure.
Mary Rice Patterson reads and writes in China Grove.