Classic Pleasures: The Gardening Catalogue

It was Agatha Christie who first introduced me to the gardening catalogue. Being Agatha Christie, she naturally made it a harbinger of sudden and mysterious death (you’ll have to read The Thirteen Problems to find out how).

Of course, gardening catalogues were nothing new in 1932, when the book came out. The first ever was, according to Wikipedia, produced by an Englishman in 1667, back when Charles II was ruling Britain, Louis “l’etat c’est moi” XIV ruling France, and the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (son of Mumtaz Mahal, as in Taj Mahal) ruling the Indian subcontinent.

Sweerts florilegium
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How To Live In Your Favourite Book

Not, I hasten to add, in a cheesy cheap merchandise kind of way, but in a altogether richer, more creative and satisfying way.


“We don’t just read a great book, we inhabit it.” So begins Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired By Literature, by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti. She identifies six sorts of literary decor:
cottage cosy (Austen, Dickens, Alcott…),
classic elegance (Thackeray, Waugh, Wharton…),
earthy & natural (Brontë, L. M. Montgomery, Thoreau…),
modern glamour (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Maugham…),
bohemian chaos (Durrells, Mansfield, Woolf…)
and fantasticated (Colette, Proust, Wilde…).

But what if your style doesn’t fall neatly into one of those mentioned – or any of them at all? Fear not: there is a way.

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