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The Morville Hours


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Beautifully written by one of the most admired garden writers of her generation. Beautifully illustrated, too, with eight chapter openers and more than twenty incidental drawings throughout.

About the Author

Katherine Swift lives at The Dower House, Morville Hall in Shropshire. She worked as a rare book librarian in Oxford and Dublin before becoming a full-time gardener and writer in 1988. She was for four years gardening columnist of The Times, and has written widely in the gardening press, including an acclaimed series on the gardens and landscapes of Orkney for Hortus. She is the author of Preserving Our Printed Heritage: Long Room Project at Trinity College Dublin with Anthony Cains and Pergolas, Arbours and Arches: Their History and How to Make Them with Paul Edwards and Jessica Smith. The Morville Hours is her third book.


In 1988, the author and her husband obtained a 20-year lease at Dower House, Morville, Shropshire, England, from the National Trust and with their permission set about creating a garden. Despite the subtitle, her book is about neither the garden nor the task of gardening; it is a collection of thoughts and passages on various subjects, from hay making and sheep shearing to church history and astronomy. The chapters are titled by the hours of the Divine Office, the daily routine of worship practiced by the monks. Like the medieval Book of Hours, Swift takes her readers through the seasons of her garden year, exploring the histories of the families who once lived there as well as occasional muses of her own personal autobiography. Eloquently written but hard to categorize, the book may appeal more to history enthusiasts rather than gardeners. Recommended for public libraries.-Phillip Oliver, Univ. of North Alabama Lib., Florence Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Swift, a former London Times gardening columnist, invites readers to slow down, taste the fresh fruit and sniff the blooming flowers. Entwining gardening with natural and local history, family memories, garden visitors like insects, animals and people, and religious traditions, Swift explores the cycles of the seasons and life while providing a fresh breath of country air. Was quince responsible for the Trojan War as well as Adam and Eve's fall from Paradise? Garden tidbits, such as pear trees living for 250 years and damson plums having provided the dye for British military uniforms, are abundant. But more so, Swift offers an exploration of the world as seen through the eyes of a longtime gardener. The months in the garden are explored alongside the medieval Catholic book of hours; days and seasons cycle with Swift's narratives of garden design, Roman history, astronomy and brain chemistry. Swift's meditative prose should appeal to gardeners (armchair or soil-based) and nature lovers alike with its invitation to pause for reflection. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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