Saturday, March 17, 2012

Valerie Easton

Valerie Easton is professional librarian and a garden columnist for the Sunday magazine of the Seattle Times. She writes about gardens and the people who make them for numerous publications, including Garden Design and Organic Gardening magazines.

Easton is the author of five gardening books; the latest is Petal & Twig, a personal approach to making bouquets from the garden. Other recent books are The New Low Maintenance Garden which was chosen by Amazon as one of the Ten Best Home and Garden Books for 2009, and A Pattern Garden.

A couple of weeks ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I always have a stack of books going at once, no doubt a hangover from working in public libraries. Right now I’m re-reading The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and enjoying it thoroughly. When I read it twenty years ago, Gertrude Stein’s language annoyed me, but now I’m more patient with her word play.

I just finished Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice by Janet Malcolm, which I read because my son recommended it, and he’s the best-read person I know. And I found that a play I’d just seen called Gertrude Stein and a Companion was largely taken from Malcolm’s book, as so much of the material was the same, down to the very words. I love the synchronicity of one art form leading to another, one good book to the next…

I love Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder – I think it’s the best novel I’ve read in ages. Patchett leads you deeper and deeper into the exotic world of the Amazon and an incredulous research project going on there to develop a new drug that...well, there’s the story. The project is led by a tough female researcher who is one of my favorite characters ever…the minute she says a word you know just who is talking, and everyone, believe me everyone, listens. The story gets stranger and stranger, yet you believe every word because the main character is a down-to-earth scientist from Minnesota – you totally believe in her as you are led ever more deeply into the Amazonian forest and this atmospheric tale.

A page at a time, early every morning, I’m reading The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh…. I’m probably on my third reading, and every time I understand more...Hanh makes Buddhism comprehensible to the Western mind, especially in his most beautiful chapter “Stopping, Calming, Resting, Healing” – the title itself is a mantra.

For inspiration and pure pleasure, the latest issue of the British Gardens Illustrated is always on my coffee table so I can dip into this most gorgeous of gardening mags whenever I have a few moments. And I’m paging through and admiring, if not reading every word, of an unusual new design book called Nomad: A Global Approach to Interior Style by Sibella Court and Chris Court. If you like the eclectic décor at Anthropologie stores, you’ll love this book; Sibella Court travels the world for the popular chain looking for cool stuff, often recycled and repurposed, then pulls it together in her own unique, lo-fi style.
Visit Valerie Easton's "Plant Talk" blog.

--Marshal Zeringue