about this blog



I started this blog in 2008. It started mainly as a way of tracking the evolution of my dry garden, and that led to an interest in photography and in the creatures that live in the garden. It's still about the garden and wildlife, but now my passion is thinking about how we humans can learn to co-exist with wild animals and plants, especially in urban areas.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

murder among the trees

Kissing the Gunner's Daughter is a who-done-it with lots of wonderful descriptions of pristine forest scenes. But the most compelling reason to put it in the blog is one of the characters who gets done-in - Davina Flory. With her first husband Davina bought a grand mansion near the remnant of an ancient forest. They proceeded to plant thousands of trees, adding to the ancient woodland and creating a place that is hauntingly wild, beautiful, mysterious and forbidding.

'Above the dense or feathery treetops, through spaces in the groves, the sky was a light delicate blue, so pale as to be almost white... The groves gave place to a plantation of Norway maples (Acer platanoices) with trunks like crocodile skin. No conifers were here, not a single pine or fir to provide a dark green shape among the shining leafless branches. This was the finest part of the deciduous woodland, man-made but a copy of nature, pristinely ordered but with nature's own neatness. Fallen logs had been left when they fell and were overgrown with bright fungus, frills and ruffs and knobbed stalks in yellow or bronze. Dead trees still stood, their rotting trunks weathered to silver, a habitation for owls or a feeding ground for woodpeckers.'

I have written about Ruth Rendell before. I love looking at images of plants and gardens and natural spaces. It seems to me that Rendell creates such images using words - makes word pictures -  as vividly as any photograph or painting.

The marriage of Davina to her first husband was never consummated. 'The best years of her sexual life ... from twenty-three to thirty-three, wasted, lost ...  The unused energy of those years she had put into the planting of those woods. It was interesting to speculate as to whether the woods would be here now if Flory had not been incapable with his wife.'

What a terrible, shocking dilemma to imagine - to have to choose between sex and tree planting!


16 comments:

  1. I always enjoy a book by Ruth Rendall, I think she must be a gardener when she isn't writing, her descriptions of plants is obviously done by someone who loves them all. Sex or tree planting, no contest!!

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    1. I agree - no contest! (let's keep 'em guessing ...)

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  2. Sounds like another great book written by this great reader. She is a master of this genre. Now about that choice ... hmmmmm!

    By the by, I've nominated you for the 'Sunshine' Award as you are most definitely an inspiration to me and I know to many others. Your posts are always fascinating and I don't mind giving you a little bit of an accolade for your work.

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    1. dear Bernie, this accolade has come at a most critical time for me, because i was feeling dejected about the blog. So the timing is perfect, has bucked me up, and re-motivated me! A million thanks. cheers, catmint

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  3. Catmint, it's wonderful to be living in a place with thousands of trees. But with that dilemma, well, it's definitely a shocking message for the reader. Happy reading books!

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    1. thanks steph, the upside of winter and rehab from surgery and having a nasty cold is lots of lovely reading. cheers, catmint

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    2. Catmint, good thing you love reading ;-) Btw, I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. Cheers.

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    3. dear Stephanie, thank you very much for this honour - I had better start thinking about it.

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  4. I've never read any Ruth Rendell, Catmint, but now I'm going to have to. That passage is beautiful, really well put-together.

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    1. Dear Faisal, I'm so happy to share this writer with you, and look forward to hearing what you think of her books. I'm not sure whether they all have so much nature writing in them. cheers, catmint

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  5. Interesting sounding book. I will have to check out this author based on the beautifully crafted passage you quoted.

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    1. it's just a detective story. I'm not usually so keen about this genre. It's just that she's so into plants and gardens ... thanks for the visit Carolyn.

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  6. One of the characters who gets done in, I love it, now it shouldn't be funny, but it is. If you had asked me this a number of years ago I guess my answer would be different, but on the other hand a fish supper sounds even more tempting.

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    1. dear alastair, now you're bringing another factor into the equation - hmm ... does it make a difference if the fish is filleted or not? cheers, cm

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  7. Thanks for making yourself known to me. I think we might be kindred spirits. I will be following you from now on. If you love books, have you see the book meme at Roses and Other Gardening Joys? You can link from my blog.

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    1. Hi Susan, I think we do have quite a bit in common - I'm now following you. (We're just going to go round in circles and never get anywhere!) I have seen the book meme, and thought I must join it but so far have never quite been organized enough to do it. cheers, catmint

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