Now I'm not normally a slow reader but it was about a year ago that Garden Monkey sent me a book all about benches, The Garden Bench by Mirabel Osler and I've just realised I haven't posted about it. S/he'd lightly mocked the idea that anyone could be interested in a whole book about benches, but having kept it close to hand for months now, I think it could even be a series. Forget about the other Pavilion ones, The Garden Path by Patrick Taylor or even The Garden Gate by Rosemary Verey. WE WANT MORE BENCHES.
(The one in the top left-hand corner of the rather blurry photograph above is made of stocks, btw. Anyone any idea where that could be?)
I've been trying to find out a bit about the author, Mirabel Osler, but even her Wikipedia page is brief. I do have her book, Secret Gardens of France hiding away on my bookshelves though (and I'm excited to see from Amazon that it is now worth over £100. Garden Monkey won't be getting that one back in a reciprocal swop.)
Anyway there's something about this little bench book that makes me think of secrets too, and perhaps that's why I love benches - they're public and yet become remarkably intimate. How many people always refer to a certain bench as 'ours' or 'mine' for instance?
This paragraph about a living bench makes me wish I had a big enough garden to play:
For years I have longed to make a 'living' seat. Willow would be best - the common crack willow (Salix fragilis) which strikes so easily. Pieces pushed into the ground at strategic places would take root in a flash and be pliable enough to be plaited. The back and seat could be woven into a kind of lattice work. Leafless in winter, how pretty in spring to see one's garden seat coming alive with slender leaves and catkins. But even more daring would be to try to make a living seat from wisteria, where a high back would curve over, absolutely sagging with flowers and scent. That vision is wildly heady - pruning would be a nightmare. More enterprise, gusto, daring and imagination should go into the planning, designing and siting of seats from the moment that the first border is planted.
Oh how much I would like to sit on a wisteria bench...