Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Autumn, Bloomsbury, and Other Inspirations

Since last week's post, I took a quick trip down to South Carolina to visit my big brother.  As we sat on the pier that extends from my brother's back yard into a glorious tidal marsh full of oysters and sea birds, the temperature rose above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  There's not enough sweet tea in the world to cool me off once it's above 95.  My body and brain were fooled for a few days into thinking that summer was far from over.

A glorious sunset at the end of a sweltering South Carolina September day.

Then I flew back north to Maine and stepped off the plane into--shiver--50 degrees and rain.

That's okay, though, because as I said last week, autumn here means dahlias and asters and still more tomatoes, at least until the frost.  It also means that it's almost time to begin planting bulbs for spring.  Last year I planted white 'Thalia' daffodils that grew beautifully in our little woodland border, along with fritillaria meleagris and alliums of various shapes and sizes.  This year I'm turning to my small library of gardening books for ideas about what bulbs to plant.  As much as I love blogs, websites, and Pinterest, when I need garden inspiration, there's no substitute for flipping through the pages of my favorite books.  In particular, I'm always interested in anything to do with English gardens, especially Bloomsbury gardens. Here's the book I've put on my wish list this fall: Virginia Woolf's Garden by Caroline Zoob with photography by  Caroline Arber and a Foreword by the wonderful Cecil Woolf.  

Available here.
Speaking of Bloomsbury and all things domestic and beautiful, Mr. Magpie and I had the great pleasure of reviewing two books for the Spring 2014 Issue of  The Virginia Woolf Miscellany a few months ago.  If you click on the link, you'll find our review on page 36 of the online pdf version of the journal.  It was a joy to discuss Virginia Wolf, a lush and heartfelt children's picture book by Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault, as well as The Charleston Bulletin Supplements, an edited collection of a series of "supplements" co-authored by Virginia Woolf and her nephew Quentin Bell in the early 1920's.  The collaboration between Woolf and the then 12-year-old Bell is a humorous and entertaining chronicle in pictures and words of the daily life at Charleston Farmhouse, the Sussex home of Virginia's sister, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Clive Bell, and as we state in our review, "a motley band of Bloomsbury bohemia engaged in disciplined creativity, strenuous play, and the daily practice of crafting life together" (36).  Some of you know that Mr. Magpie (aka Todd Avery) is a Bloomsbury scholar, and that Charleston Farmhouse is a touchstone for us--a place to connect with the things we value most about art, friendship, and living an ethical life.  If you'd like to learn a bit more about Charleston Farmhouse, visit the post I wrote after my first visit there a few years ago.

And for some quick visual inspiration, scroll down through this post for a few shots I took late last summer on a very cloudy day in the garden at Charleston:

I will soon have other publishing news, but in the meantime, click here at the Lilly Library's page to read Close and Affectionate Friends, a beautiful, small book that Todd wrote back when he was completing his PhD at Indiana University.  He curated an exhibition on Bloomsbury at the Lilly in 1999, and he wrote this book on Desmond and Molly MacCarthy to accompany the exhibition.  At the time it was only available as a printed book, but now you can read the e-version for free.

Todd has written and edited many articles and chapters, along with other books on Bloomsbury and Modernism since then, including Radio Modernism, which a review in the Woolf Studies Annual calls a "compact but meticulously sourced and argued volume," and Unpublished Works of Lytton Strachey, published by Pickering & Chatto. He has also penned two volumes--one published and one forthcoming--for Cecil Woolf Publishers' Bloomsbury Heritage Series, which you can read more about in the 'Books' section of Blogging Woolf.

It's not often that I allow myself to sing the praises of Mr. Magpie here on the blog, but I admire his work tremendously, and I love when we have the opportunity to collaborate on a project.  We are currently co-writing another book review, and yes, it is Bloomsbury-related, so I will keep you posted about it in the coming months.

I have so much to share with you--more Italian gardens, more Maine gardens, books I've been reading, and food I've been cooking.  As always, I'm grateful to you for visiting, and I love hearing about the daily ins and outs of your life, too.  Thank you for always inspiring me.  xo Gigi


  1. Just lovely!
    Big hugs to you both.

  2. Beautiful Gigi... Enjoy your collaboration and thank you for sharing all the beauty that you do... :) xv

    1. Thanks so much, Vicki. It's a joy to have the opportunity to do the work I do and to meet so many inspiring people like you. xo

  3. Your photographs of the garden are just lovely, I love the one with the vermilion nasturtiums and the intriguing door in the garden wall. How I wish I could travel I would dearly love to visit Charleston and Virginia's house and garden as well.... oooh and then there's Vita's garden as well.

    I love your blog you know.


    1. Oh, Jane, Sissinghurst is at the top of my list for our next trip to England. I promise that if I get to go, I will bring back loads of pictures and will share as many as possible here. Thank you so much for your kind words. They really did make my day. xo


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