The hollyhocks from Louise Beebe Wilder's garden at Balderbrae

In June She Reads Louise

“What a chaos of beauty there is upon a June morning! Standing in the midst of the garden one experiences a sort of breathlessness of soul.” (Louise Beebe Wilder, 1918)

This week I combined another botanical garden tour with a favorite gardening book. On this trip, I’ve brought along Adventures in My Garden and Rock Garden, by Louise Beebe Wilder.

garden books by Louise Beebe Wilder

A selection of garden books by Louise Beebe Wilder

The garden, Leach Botanical Gardens, introduces us to another grand old lady of gardens—Lilla Leach.

I just discovered ‘Lilla’ a couple of years ago, and have visited her garden now several times since, but ‘Louise’ has been my garden companion and mentor for over thirty years.

There are many pictures of Lilla to be had, but as for the authoress of my book–Louise Beebe Wilder–? I cannot tell you. Her likeness remains elusive. Not even Google has the power to conjure up her image. [update: I have unearthed some glimpses of her]

She was described by contemporaries as ‘contagiously charismatic’, with deep-set eyes in a round face.

Yet her words are with us. The image of her garden is with us. Her passion, vision and enthusiasm is still with us. Continue reading

Green Thoughts

The Garden at Bishop's Close

The botanical garden at Elk Rock, Dunthorpe

‘If you would be happy all your life, plant a garden.’ (Chinese Proverb)

If you love to wander through an old botanical garden, perhaps with a favorite book tucked under your arm, then I have a couple of recommendations for you.


First, the garden: Just outside of Portland there is a botanical garden of astonishing beauty. The historic Elk Rock Garden was the dream of Scottish gardener and entrepreneur, Peter Kerr. When he died in 1957, his daughters donated the house and grounds in trust, on the condition that it always be open to the public.

How incredibly, wonderfully generous of them.

‘If you would be happy…’

(For more about the history and care of this important legacy in the Pacific Northwest, read here ) Continue reading