Elizabeth and Her German Garden.

By alison April 16, 2007 10 Comments 4 Min Read

Springgg

Oh my Darling, Darling Housekeepers, have you read it?

You know I sometimes think that that finding books that make your heart dance with joy is part of a scrumptious little treasure hunt the world conspires to create for you. While rooting through somebody elses junk the other day, I came across Elizabeth Von Armin’s (She of Enchanted April fame) gorgeous little ode to a year in her garden, "Elizabeth and Her German Garden" and oh my,  after  cleaning down the rather manky cover with a dab of fairy liquid and  fluffing the  pages with lily of the valley talc, I settled down to read it on Saturday and lost a century in an afternoon…

Occasionally in the pages of a book you find a friend. A woman  who makes you laugh out loud and draw emphatic breath at descriptions of things you frequently fail to notice. So it is with Elizabeth.

"How happy I was! I don’t remember anytime quite so perfect since the days when I was too little to do lessons and was turned out with sugar on my eleven o’clock bread and butter on to a lawn strewn with dandelions and daisies. the sugar ahs lost it’s charm , but I love the dandelions  and daisies even more passionately now than then and never would endure to see them all mown away if I were not certain that in a day or two they would be pushing up their little faces again as jauntily as ever…"

She hilariousily refers to her husband as the "Man of Wrath" and her constant exasperation with all her aquaintances and staff (look out for the day her gardener goes loopy and has to be certified!) forms the most amusing part of a book where rather deliciously, almost nothing happens. But it is in her sheer joie de vivre, and her appreciation of the everyday that we will find a woman we long to share rosehip tea and a cucumber sandwich with…

"To most German Hausfraus the dinner and the puddings are of paramount importance, and they pride themselves on keeping those parts of their houses that are seen in spotless perfection and this is exceedingly praiseworthy;  but,  I would  humbly inquire , are there  not other things  even more important?  And is not plain living and high thinking better than the other  way about?  And all too careful making of dinners and dusting of furniture takes a terrible  amount of  precious time, and-  and with shame I confess that  my sympathies are all with the  pudding and the grammar. it cannot be right to  be the slaves of ones  household gods and I protest that if my furniture  ever annoyed me by wanting to be dusted when I wanted to be doing something else , and there was no one to do  the dusting for me, I should cast it all into the nearest bonfire and sit and warm my toes at the flames with great contentment, triumphantly selling my dusters to the next pedlar who was weak enough to buy them."

and…

" On some  very special divine days , like today, I  have actually longed for some one else to be here to enjoy the beauty with me. There has been rain  in the night, and the whole garden seems to be singing- not the untiring  birds only, but the vigorous plants, the happy grass and trees, the lilac bushes- oh those lilac bushes! They are all out to-day, and the garden is drenched with the scent. I have bought in armfuls, the picking is such a delight, and every pot and bowl and tub in the house is filled with purple glory, and the servants think there is going to be a party and are extra nimble, and I go from room to room gazing at the sweetness, and the windows are all flung open so as to join the scent within to the scent without; and the servants gradually discover that there is no party, and wonder why the house should be filled with flowers for one woman by herself, and I long more and more for a kindred spirit- it seems so greedy to have so much loveliness to oneself- but kindred spirits are so very rare;  I might almost as well cry for the moon."

Oh my, but she is wonderful. And even more wonderful than her wonderfulness, is the fact that there are so many other books by our darling new friend to give up lots of other blissful Saturday afternoons to…

Kindred spirits are rare, but Elizabeth is my Monday morning gift to you…

Other Things To Do At BrocanteHome

10 Comments

  1. Gena says:

    Yes! Yes! I have read this and was totally enchanted too! I loved her honesty throughout, the guilt she felt for wanting to spend her days in the garden! I am so glad I have found someone else who loves this book!

  2. Kim says:

    I will have to check this out! I read "Diary of a Provincial Lady" on your reccomendation & loved it…sounds similar in feeling…

  3. mimi xxx says:

    Another treasure you gave us was project guttenburg – and several of darling Elizabeth's books are there for the reading, for anyone not lucky enough to have stumbled upon their own copies yet!
    You know that is EXACTLY how I feel about discovering special books- it is a magical kind of treasure hunt!

  4. mimi xxx says:

    Another treasure you gave us was project guttenburg – and several of darling Elizabeth's books are there for the reading, for anyone not lucky enough to have stumbled upon their own copies yet!
    You know that is EXACTLY how I feel about discovering special books- it is a magical kind of treasure hunt!

  5. Marina says:

    Have you seen the video (available still from Amazon.co.uk) called Enchanted April?
    You MUST get it, unfortunately not on DVD as yet, but written by the same author…it is a real treat, so pretty and lush with Italian scenes, beautiful acting and vintage details.

  6. Marina says:

    Forgot to say…do you or any of your visitors have any good DVD or video recommendations, anything 'vintagey'
    Mine would be the previous one in my last post, Enchanted April…plus
    A Good Woman
    The White Countess
    Howard's End
    How to make An American Quilt (brilliant, multi stories,delicious!)
    Inventing the Abbots
    The Notebook
    Mona Lisa Smile
    Love in a Cold Climate (recent BBC production)
    Ya Ya Sisterhood
    Being Julia
    Phew!

  7. Natalie says:

    Wow! You like this book? I thought I was the only one. It is wonderful! I had to comment, I generally lurk, but I had to (ahem) expose myself to comment on this one. Aah, domestic, German bliss. Did you know that German women were renouned for their intelligence and their housekeeping the in the 19th century?

  8. Natalie says:

    Wow! You like this book? I thought I was the only one. It is wonderful! I had to comment, I generally lurk, but I had to (ahem) expose myself to comment on this one. Aah, domestic, German bliss. Did you know that German women were renouned for their intelligence and their housekeeping the in the 19th century?

  9. Alison, I just order a 1901 copy of this book on Ebay based on the excerpts you shared alone – this is just my kind of book. I prefer (gently) reading the very old books so I can imagine all the women who held and read the book before me…can't wait to get it! Thank you SO much!

  10. Don't know how I missed this post before…
    I have this book and have been waiting for the right time to read it (Springtime)–I'm now halfway through and am loving it!

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