The book collection had really outgrown the old facility when I first saw it. The shelving was crowded and poorly lit, but I have always had a fondness for libraries like that, so naturally I loved it. Each row of shelves was lit with old banker's lamps--the kind with green glass--and as you moved down the rows you pulled the little lamp chains to light your way.
It was in this library that I found one book treasure after another. One of my favorites was Celia Thaxter's An Island Garden. It was all about the summer gardens she made out on Appledore Island, one of the Isles of Shoals, a little chain of nine islands that is ten miles off the coasts of New Hampshire and Maine.
Celia grew up on the islands, where her father was first a lighthouse keeper and later a hotel owner. Although marriage took her away from the islands for a while, she later spent her summers on the islands in the late 1800s. She wrote of taking the ferry trip out for the first time each season, guarding the scores of little seedlings she had started back on the mainland, some planted in eggshell halves.
Although her original gardens are gone, reproduction gardens have been built and lovingly tended by volunteers, and may be visited today. From her book, we know the kinds of old-fashioned flowers--a jumble of colors--that she raised. The list of poppies alone will make you want to go right out and start planting. There was a variety called "The Bride," and there were carnation, corn, and California poppies; and heirloom, Iceland, oriental, shirley, and peony poppies.
Her friend, the artist Childe Hassam, painted several pictures of Celia in her garden, and they are included in the book. Although I am far away from Candia and that library, and even though I haven't held that book for years, I will always remember the lovely colors of those gardens backed by the blue of the sea.
To learn more about Celia's gardens, visit About Celia Thaxter's Island Garden.
For more about Celia's life and her book, see the lovely blog, Plant Whatever Brings You Joy.