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A Gentle Plea for Chaos
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A Gentle Plea for Chaos

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  38 ratings  ·  10 reviews
In this book the author describes the way her garden evolved and how, without meaning to do so, she let it take over her life. She suggests moving away from planning, regimentation and gardening with the mentality of a stamp-collector. Frequently funny and always stimulating, she writes of the alchemy of gardens, of the 19th-century plant-collectors and plant illustrators ...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published August 31st 2012 by Bloomsbury Paperbacks (first published October 19th 1989)
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Bo Olsen
I just loved her flow, and her husband Michael added interest, with all their observations, and pairings of roses and clematis that worked well together, it just captured my imagination, and led me right to my nursery catalogs.
Osler describes the process of creating her own garden and how it turned her and her husband into gardeners - not full of specific plant advice, illustrations, or pictures; rather reflections on aspects of gardening, and as the title says, a plea for less tidiness and more disorder in the garden. A pleasant book, though perhaps not as good as A Breath from Elsewhere, which I enjoyed more for some reason that I can't pin down.
Troy Storm
For gardeners, or more appropriately attemptors at gardening, A Gentle Plea will be a godsend. Mirabel Osler, a discerning, clever and gentle English writer, basically tells us to cool it and not get so frantic about playing in the dirt. Enjoy it more. Sort of smell the roses and don't be too upset if the deer got most of them. It's a lovely, lovely book written by a lovely, lovely writer. Just the pick-me-up one needs after a hard day's grubbing about trying to foil the forces of nature.
Regarded in some gardening circles as a "must read."

A truly inspirational book.

The author and her husband create a garden on a scale that makes my own efforts seem miniature by comparison.

It is an adventure reminiscent of The Twelve Tasks of Hercules.

And it ends on a sad note when her husband passes on.

Funny, sad, wise, and more all rolled into one.

I want to read many more books like this.
This is a book about gardening, but the author seems to have applied the idea of chaos to her writing also. The book is divided into five chapters, one each about trees, water, stones/wall, roses and bulbs, but it seemed to me that the chapters didn’t necessarily stick exclusively to their theme, making the whole book a bit of a jumble. The more enjoyable parts of this book talk about Osler’s own garden (acres of land somewhere in England) and how it came into being, interdispersed with musings ...more
Grady McCallie
I have read Michael Pollan's comment that when this book was first published in 1989, it blew fresh air into the stuffy precincts of English garden writing. (The re-issuance was apparently timed to coincide with the 2011 publication of Osler's memoirs, The Rain Tree, which I hope to read). For an American gardener reading two decades later, much of that original context simply doesn't translate, but the book does offer points of interest. It's probably helpful to understand A Gentle Plea as a se ...more
This was a beautiful read, both as far as the written word and the photographs of the author's garden.

One of the comments Osler made that really hit home was her wistful dreaming about what American gardens were really like. She said that she loves to read about them, but doubts that she'll ever get to visit any. Here in the U.S., it seems like most of the gardeners I know dream about English country gardens and wish their garden was more like the gardens of England. It was a refreshing thought
The plea really is gentle in every good sense of the word. Far from being didactic, really just a straightforward account of building and more importantly loving a garden. Ultimately a little psalm to beauty.
Cathy Sorensen :
You truly have to be a gardener to enjoy this book which I am. Though wordy there are some remarkable insights and passages. Part memoir part history lesson there are moments where I glazed over. The water chapter was certainly chaos covering water, lawn mowing, grasses and then plant hunters. Stick with it and you will be pleased with an overall decent read. " there is no end to be written....a garden in always on the move. ".
Graham S
A rambling book like her roses. Often nicely constructed prose, but I just didn't see the point of the book. She's very opinionated and just a little smug leading to my not really expecting to like her, which lowers the tolerance level.
Katherine Swift's books of a similar genre have a better structure and enticed me to get to see her garden. Although Mirabel's garden is in the same county as I live, I don't think I'd bother.
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“Reading books about gardens is a potent pastime; books nourish a gardener's mind in the same way as manure nourishes plants.” 1 likes
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