Autumn is here with its golden days and crisp evenings. The sun sets earlier and there’s time to curl up with a cup of tea and books like Susan Southam’s Velvet Pears (Murdoch Books, 2009).
As a young bride, Susan moved into a little weatherboard cottage sheltered by huge Norfolk pines at the foot of a purple mountain. Over the next twenty-five years, she created her enchanted garden at Foxglove Spires on the land of an old dairy paddock in the Tilba Valley, New South Wales. She lives there now, with her family, in harmony with the seasons: cooking, eating, celebrating and decorating with her garden’s bounty.
Velvet Pears is a journal, a garden lover’s delight, a story of the making of a garden, a tapestry of dreams. It is elegantly illustrated with photographs of Susan’s house and garden and includes suggestions for planting schemes and favourite seasonal recipes – hearty minestrone, magic chocolate cake, elderberry and blackcurrant jam, and velvet pears – using produce from the garden.
About autumn, Susan writes:
“I love this time of year. Working in the garden is an absolute pleasure. Soft woolly socks in boots, a thick warm jumper, and my favourite beanie pulled down. This is the season of seedlings and bulbs. Daffodils and snowflakes are pushing through the thick layers of autumn leaves.”
Whether you live in the southern or northern hemisphere, savour the changes the seasons bring.
“I learned to garden the way I learned to write – out of necessity. We needed vegetables and flowers, and I needed to tell myself a long story about life – I am still telling it – a kind of beanstalk that grows and grows, and I can climb it, both to escape the possibility of life at the bottom, and to find another world where giants and castles and harp-playing hens are still to be found.
Gardening, like story-telling, is a continuing narrative. One thing leads to another. Like stories, there is always something going on in the garden long after the gardener has gone to bed. The thing grows, unfolds, changes, develops a maddening life of its own. For me, as a writer, I go to sleep with an idea in my head, and it takes hold during the night. I open the back door in the morning, and the tulips that refused to look at me the night before, have opened in the sun.”
– Jeanette Winterson
Read the article here.