Monday, July 12, 2010

My Day Off

I took a day off for myself these school holidays, and what would a gardening-and-book nut do on her day off? She would visit a place that has been on the to-visit list for quite a while: Florilegium. A whole shop, just for gardening books... what might I grab?

Florilegium isn't far from the cafes of Glebe Point Road, where I had lunch (and afternoon tea afterwards). It's in a tiny corner shop which was once the Demeter Bakery, but now has warm white walls, polished concrete flooring, and a stairway to heaven more books downstairs, including some antiquarian treasures. I loved the feel of the shop and of course the titles!

Perhaps naively, I had thought that the obsessives restricted themselves to cultivation of roses, bromeliads and orchids. You expect to see books on those genera. But a whole book on the genus Sorbus? Yes, you'll find one. But then, surely every genus deserves some obsessive person to write about it...

I whiled away at least an hour exploring this cornucopia of gardening books! But in the end, I settled on four titles:
  • Edna Walling's The Happiest Days of my Life ($18), a memoir of her time building a holiday shack near the Great Ocean Road.
  • Helen Proudfoot's Gardens in Bloom: Jocelyn Brown and her Sydney Gardens of the '30s and '40s ($30). Brown and Walling were active in the same period and as I have a 1940s house, I am interested in how to bring something of that time into my own garden.
  • Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury, Designing With Plants ($35). I was introduced to Piet Oudolf by the blogosphere and find his work fascinating. Again, it will be interesting to see how I can translate his ideas to Sydney, where the seasons are far less distinct than in the Netherlands, and where the native plant material is vastly different. I asked Gil, the proprietor, whether anyone was working in a similar style here and he was able to point out one or two designers to me in Contemporary Australian Garden Design by John Patrick & Jenny Wade... but I didn't buy that book!
  • After the glowing review at May Dreams Gardens, I couldn't pass up Rick Darke's expanded edition of William Robinson's classic The Wild Garden ($39.95). Looks like I have a bit of reading to do.
I felt the prices were very reasonable, and of course was very impressed by Gil's immediate grasp of what I meant and what I wanted to see. He travels to all sorts of gardening shows, and if you aren't able to come to Sydney, you can order by e-mail. But I know I'll be visiting the bookshop again.


Jamie said...

Gosh that's a wonderfully dangerous place to visit, isn't it, Chookie?

And when Pam blithely tells me that she's planning on visiting Florilegium I know that she'll come home proudly announcing, like you, that she ONLY bought four books this time, and they were all bargains.

Love that shop, and Gil is a very nice man.

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

A lovely day off, sure I would have spent mine in a different sort of shop but pretty much the same.


Gardenista said...

Wow. I have never heard of such a store. You are a lucky human being to be near such a place!