Why I Adore Garden Books

Or, How a Tree has a Spell Over Me

I want to share with you why I adore books and all things 'garden.' I began reading Restoring American Gardens, An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants 1640-1940 by Denise Wiles Adams and as I skimmed the pages, I saw an entry for Magnolia grandiflora, one of my favorite trees (Ginkgo being the top pick in my book), but I digress. I was struck by this because a Magnolia shades the steps leading to my gardens at Ault Park- a lovely sight that makes me smile. It is my portal to my garden life. Work and house chores are on one side of the tree and as I pass underneath, I enter my garden world- gardens, weeds to pull and relaxation (isn’t weeding and relaxation one in the same?). According to the book, the earliest American citation for the tree was made by botanist and nurseryman, John Bartrum, ca.1760.

I was introduced to John, and his son William Bartram while studying early American history, another interest of mine. I was researching a paper, Jefferson's Gardens, or, what my classmates referred to as the shrubbery paper, when I read about Jefferson visiting Bartram’s nursery.

Another rabbit trail. A Magnolia grandiflora also shades the parking area of my 1940s condo in Hyde Park. When I was searching for a new home, one to replace the house infused with bad vibes, I saw this beautiful building with its southern magnolia which conjured up memories of my trips to Savannah and Charleston- nice. I was quite smitten with the place already. Then, I climbed the steps to the slate walkway to find myself in a charming courtyard garden complete with a fountain. In an instant, I felt at home.

So you can see, this tree has a bit of a spell over me!


  1. Great post,Karen!I have a Magnolia grandiflora in my yard which I adore. I float the blossoms in a large bowl of water and it fills the room with it's sweet yet citrus fragrance. In the winter I use the glossy leaves to decorate during the holiday season. And, as child it was a great climbing tree at my great aunt's home in Alabama. William Bartrum made his way to the Gulf Coast where we have a park named for him in Pensacola.

  2. Sorry, Jennifer- I called you Karen in my comment! I had just posted a comment on a friend's blog whose name happens to be "Karen". The heat down here must be getting to me!

  3. The leaves are great for holiday decore! I have done that as well. There is a park there for him? I used to go to Pensacola each year with my family--- now I have another reason, besides the beaches and shrimp (yummy!!!) to head back down. Thanks for that bite of info.