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Minding The Garden cover

  • Paperback Edition
    • 978-1-5255-5536-7
    • 8.0 x 10.0 inches
    • Standard Color interior
    • 244 pages
  • Keywords
    • Gardening,
    • Garden History,
    • Metaphorical Garden,
    • Garden Creation,
    • 'Artful' Gardening,
    • Lilactree Farm,
    • Garden Photography

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Minding The Garden
Lilactree Farm
by Brian Bixley

What can a gardener learn from Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony? Are perennial plants symbols of friendship? Is gardening in the Whig tradition? Are ‘non-native’ plants ‘aliens’? Can the art of writing a novel be compared to gardening? Is Monty Don right about the presence of flowers in the great Renaissance Italian gardens? Do gardens exhibit Late Style? Can mowing be a creative activity? Why is the creation of a new path such a delightful experience? Should gardens open to the public be ‘reviewed’ in the same way as exhibitions of paintings and newly-published books? Minding The Garden: Lilactree Farm combines brief commentaries on garden history, on rare and familiar plants, on the tantalizing connections between the garden as art form and the other arts, on the pleasures and follies of gardening, in a collection of 125 ‘Notes’ presented in the context of a composite gardening year. Discover how Lilactree Farm evolved over the years, through six retrospective ‘plans,’ spaced sequentially throughout the text, and through Des Townshend’s spell-casting photographs. Minding The Garden: Lilactree Farm is sure to captivate gardeners, both armchair and active, in the English-speaking world and perhaps beyond.

“For fifty years, Maureen and Brian Bixley have brought a deeply cultured sensibility to the making of an abundantly romantic garden in minus 20C Ontario. It shimmers here, in Brian’s elegantly layered, witty prose, a life-work with all the reach of a true classic.” —Robin Magowan, New Mexico, poet, travel writer, gardener. “The range of Brian Bixley’s thought and the dry subtlety of his wit…go beyond the confines of one region or climate…The arts are never far from Brian’s musings: he draws upon literature and music to understand his garden and to better examine the broader issues of garden design and history…I don’t know why Brian Bixley is not as well known as Eleanor Perényi and Henry Mitchell.” —Kathy Purdy, New York, “An extraordinary range of trees and shrubs (many raised from seed), herbaceous perennials and a few esoteric alpines give interest throughout the year. It has not been an easy road: Ontario gardening on this scale, like old age, is not for sissies. Minding The Garden: Lilactree Farm is rich with literary allusions, philosophy and, obviously, thought on which this Elysian is based.” —Allen Paterson, Dumfriesshire, former Curator, Chelsea Physic Garden; Director, 1981-1993, Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, Ontario.

Brian and Maureen Bixley have been gardeners for fifty years. Lilactree Farm, their 2.5 acre (1 ha) garden, has been featured in local and international books and articles. Brian has organized major gardening conferences and written many articles for gardening publications in England, Scotland, the United States, and Canada, as well as The Canadian Gardeners’ Journal and The American Gardeners’ Journal. His writing experience also includes Essays on Gardening in a Cold Climate and Ten New Snowdrops with Hallie Watson. He and his wife live in rural Ontario. Photographer Des Townshend graduated in digital photography from the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts in 2009. Projects include work for a travel magazine, photo essays on artisans in Ireland and Canada’s First Nations, together with industrial photography for web-sites. He divides his time between Canada and his native Ireland.


Brian Bixley
Des Townshend

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