4 out of 5 stars
For the past two decades, Marc Hamer has cared for a twelve-acre garden. It is not his, rather it is owned by a lady called Dorothy Cashmere who lives alone on this vast property. They have a strange relationship, they are formal and polite with each other and yet there is an intimacy there that comes from knowing each other for a long time and sharing this garden.
The book follows his work and musings about life and the universe seem through this garden. There are the mundane elements of gardening such as cutting the grass and deadheading, as it is about finding the joy in the way that the garden changes every single day. He sees beauty in all parts of the growing process, from the unfurling of a leaf in the spring, the hum of bees around a proliferation of flowers in the summer and the gentle decay of a dahlia flower in the autumn.
I wake to the applause of rain and wonder for a moment…
As he explains in the book, he has had a tough life has been a vagrant, homeless and had stood at the very edge of the abyss at times. That has all changed now and one of the things that come across in his writing is that he is immensely happy with his lot now. He has learnt from his life that he wants for little apart from his books and a dram of whisky on a regular basis.
This garden is my temple. I come here and expect to feed and taste the world. I make it lovely for the pleasure of it being so, for the labour that is good for my body and my mind.
Hamer’s writing has a wistful melancholy about it and it is often quite beautiful. It is basically a collection of essays, some less than a page and others that are much longer. The essays are loosely pulled together in some order, but there are some that don’t quite fit the month that he has grouped them into. The book also feels a bit like I imagine the gardens he creates, not formal, more arranged in a way that there is beauty in the disorder, surprises as he changes the subject depending on what he wants to write about at the time. It might not be for everyone, but I really like it.