books: “Gardening Grief and Glory” and “The Apple: A History of Canada’s Perfect Fruit”

After waiting for ages to plant bulbs it turned so nasty over the weekend, bulb planting was turning into being no fun at all so I read instead. There’ve been a raft of new books coming in (three). One was given to me by Ed Laurence ?his book called Gardening Grief and Glory (Tatlock Woods, $26) and it’s a charmer, just like Ed. There are questions with the usual detailed and very good answers Laurence gives on CBC’s Radio Noon phone-in (in Eastern Canada). The information is terrific. It’s a great little reference book but you have to go at it from the index forward. The organization is confusing almost as though it was the order in which the questions came in on the radio show rather than anything intuitive. I hope it goes into a second edition and a rigorous editor gets her hands on it and does it by categories. I want to know everything he has to say about roses in one spot. But good on Ed -?he’s got such a wealth of knowledge it would be nice to be able to retain it all just as he does. Lovely man.

The other is a terrific looking book called The Apple: A History of Canada’s Perfect Fruit. It’s by Carol Martin published by McArthur & Co $24.95. It looks great and Ms. Martin did A History of Canadian Gardening which is a book I really like. This one is as good if not better. This is a social history of Canada through the apple and it is fascinating.

Champlain and the early settlers brought eating apples to Canada (the only natives were tiny crabapples). Because water was so polluted in the parts of England and France where our settlers came from (eco-migration started very early), and drinking cider was standard so they needed their apples. There were some doubt as the the actual date of the first apple trees but she cites about 1610 which sounds right. No doubt they brought the seeds earlier and within a few deades orchards were established around settlements.

Have a look at both of these books, you’ll like them.