Having seen some of Laura Stoddart’s distinctive illustrations on pinterest, I reserved this book of hers from my local library. It is, as it says on the cover, a little anthology. It includes some of the more obscure and antiquated quotations, proverbs and tidbits from famous literary works. All on the subject of house and garden. But the best thing about it is undoubtedly the illustrations.
I loved the little houses, the towering flowers, the quirky characters, and the illustrated inventory of ‘Garden Gear at Holkham, 1761′ which apparently included ’11 Scythes’ and ’91 Frames Glazed for Melons Pines and Cucumbers’ and ‘A Number of Old Mats’!
Here are a few of my favourite quotations from the book:
Some ladies asked me why their plant had died. They had got it from the very best place, and they were sure they had done their very best for it… They had made a nice hole with their new trowel, and for its sole benefit they had bought a tin of Concentrated Fertilizer. This they had emptied into the hole, put in the plant, and covered it up and given it lots of water, and – it had died! And yet these were the best and kindest of women, who would never have dreamed of feeding a new-born infant on beefsteaks and raw brandy.
~ Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) from Wood and Garden
A modest garden contains, for those who know how to look and to wait, more instruction than a library.
~ Henri Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881)
What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) from Fortune of the Republic
Great Mother, let Me Once be able
To have a Garden, House and Stable;
That I may Read, and Ride, and Plant,
Superior to Desire, or Want;
And as Health fails, and Years increase,
Sit down, and think, and die in peace.
~ Matthew Prior (1664-1721)
Laura’s illustrations have graced the pages of many books and magazines, and her designs can be found on the packaging of crabtree and Evelyn products and Portmeirion pottery. Her website is here if you would like to explore her work further.