A new generation can explore the southern traditional garden with James Farmer’s new book “A Time to Plant: Southern-Style Garden Living.” Farmer believes a garden can be your source of all things fresh and elegant while resonating a love of life. Here's an excerpt.
For everything there is a season and time for every purpose under heaven...a time to plant, and a time to pluck...A time for garden living...A glass of tea, sweetened and garnished with mint; a garden lined with boxwoods and brimming with bouquets to be cut and arranged; a meal prepared with seasonal flair and flavored with soul; a home for comfort, classicism, and personal style: all things of delight, all things of warmth, all things of provenance — all things this Farmer cherishes.
Timing is everything in the garden. Proper garden timing will grow your life into a lifestyle of garden living. As a designer and an advocate of garden living, I practice my profession from my home office and a storefront. In turn, I serve a clientele base across many of the Deep South’s cities, towns, hamlets, and settlements from my little epicenter in Kathleen, Georgia. Where is Kathleen? It’s the unincorporated pecan grove set in the middle of Warner Robins, Perry, and Hawkinsville — all major factors in my life and pieces of home. My hometown and family have imbued me with stories and tales, knowledge and bull, and a passion for beauty and nature that I truly love to share.
Born and raised a child of the South, my Georgia upbringing has steeped me in a bath of all things Southern, a culture heavily influenced by gardening and the land. Hailing from the peach-laden fields and muddy rivers of Middle Georgia, I have been blessed to call this little bucolic spot my home. With a suffix added to his name, a man is instantaneously equipped with a mantle of legacy and an endowment from each generation. Traits, hobbies, and personalities were infused genetically, then nurtured by my family. Both grandfathers are green-thumbed men, and my maternal grandmother, Mimi, has endowed me with a garden-to kitchen edification I treasure. My education from my grandparents is priceless. Having a large and proximate family, mealtimes are quite often our chance to gather, connect, and converse. Our gardens are a part of the gatherings too, providing much of the food, décor, and flavor. Entertaining a few or hosting a party can be a true joy, and I relish the opportunity to share my home with my friends and family.
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I wish to invite you into my home and garden as well as those of my family, friends, and clients. Join me on a journey through these wonderful places, taking inspiration for your own home and garden. Entertaining, gardening, and cooking can join hand-in-hand, and I hope that you find the confidence to open your home and garden to your guests. Not all gardeners are cooks and not all cooks are gardeners; yet, the creativity of both can be melded into one soul. I feel I am one of those folks with one hand in the garden and the other in the kitchen. Whether preparing a meal or planting a flower bed, many of the elements and questions are the same; yet, timing meticulously presides. The basic queries we dare to ask can be answered with timing, nature’s resounding background and keeper of order. Knowing the time to plant — and times to pluck, rend, and sow — will ensure successful garden living.
It is a symbiosis that allows a gardener and cook to be one and the same. Gardening and its derivative activities — cooking, entertaining, and decorating—easily flow among one another. Understanding nature’s timing in each venture instills the gardener, cook or host with the wherewithal to succeed. Often I find that friends are intimidated by gardening or entertaining. My generation is yearning to discover the simple satisfaction found in garden living but has no clue how to pioneer a new garden adventure. Simple pots of herbs on the patio, a vine-ripened tomato, or a vase filled with the first roses of the season — all used to prepare, set, and decorate for a dinner party or family meal — are delightful ways to initiate garden living.
As with any adventure, a trek guide is helpful, so allow me to motivate your journey down the path towards a gardening lifestyle. There is truly something memorable about an inaugural meal prepared with your first fruits, or those earliest blossoms of hydrangeas gracing your table’s center. Timing, with trial and error and a hands-on approach, is the secret to a successful gardening lifestyle. The garden can be your pantry, your florist, your dining room, and stage, so use it for all these, infusing each element of your event with your garden. With this book, be inspired to take on new challenges in the garden and home. Meld aspects of gardening, entertaining, cooking, and decorating and become enthralled with all the things this Farmer loves.
Reprinted from "A Time to Plant: Southern-Style Garden Living" by James Farmer © 2011 by James Farmer. Used with permission of the publisher, Gibbs Smith.
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