About The River

Friday, July 10, 2020

Book Review ~ Down to Earth with Helen Dillon

I recently read Down to Earth with Helen Dillon.
Advice and inspiration from one of the world's great gardeners.

I loved Helen's wit.

I want to share a few paragraphs from her book that made me smile.

From the chapter..
Potting shed

"Tranquillity. Even saying the word has a calming effect. To me, the key to serenity is my shed. It has a lovely feeling of peace, and the good thing is that nobody knows exactly what I'm doing there. In reality I'm probably just standing still, gazing out of the window. But if footsteps approach I start banging pots about, hoping that whoever's coming along will think I'm too busy to be disturbed."

"Since the last time the shed was tidied, things have built up. The problem is all the bits of wire, boxes, trays, screws, string, plant ties, blunt pencils, drying seedheads, nails rusty and shiny, bags paper and polythene, stakes with one end snapped off, paintbrushes solid with dry paint, bags of this and bottles of that - not enough to use but too good to throw away."

"I love the definition of the verb "to potter" in my Chambers Dictionary - "to busy oneself in a desultory way; to dawdle."
Yes, one of the secrets of life is a good shed."

From the chapter..
Vanishing tools

"There are two distinct types of gardener. One goes outside and makes an amazing mess. Within minutes, weeds, tools, deadheads and buckets are scattered everywhere.
This is the type of who treats the flowerbed like a trampoline, trots down the path with muddy boots for a telephone call, doesn't bother to take the boots off at the back door, and finally sits down in the kitchen and demands a cup of tea. This mode of gardening is fine. I did just that. Then, when I realized how much good gardening time was wasted in cleaning up afterwards, I became the other sort of gardener. I tidy up as I go. How smug."

"Trowels can be worse. I like stainless - steel ones the best, but these are the first to go missing. Then I'm left with the ones to be avoided, which usually have jolly bright, coloured handles set at a peculiar angle to the digging bit of the trowel. The peculiar angel makes your hand ache to put any weight on them, and if you do manage to push them into the soil they go into terminal bend, from which they never recover. But you can't actually bring yourself to throw them away, so they hide at the back of the shed under some sacks until one day, when you've lost every other trowel in the place, you find a whole heap of them. But by then, you've forgotten that they're the bendy ones. Exasperation."


  1. Ha! That sounds like me, making a huge mess and then having to clean it up afterwards. Sounds like a fun book. And of course the author is British? The kind of humOUR I love. :-)

  2. "To potter" and "Dawdle" are wonnnnnderful words!!!!!

    Not just for gardening. For life! -smile-

    For some reason, your picture does not show up, on my screen. No big problem, just telling you.

  3. Her writing is so unique! And she says things that are so true, but I never really thought of.

  4. I see myself described as such a messy gardener but I always take off my boots and gloves before going in the house.... I keep misplacing my tools because I have too many places to put them. I'm really hard on pruning shears. I keep loosing them and I even ran one through the lawn mower. That took care of those pruning shears.

    I spend a lot of time trying to remember if I left my tools in shed #1, shed #2 or in the garage or in the gazebo... My son gave me his shed which was supposed to be on our lot temporarily but after many years, his stuff is still in it. The other shed has my husband's, my son's and my stuff in it and neither of the men, are organized. I have lots of gardening tools but waste time looking for them.

    I'm usually organized but with so much weeding and mulching to do, I never get to get organized.

    Hugs, Julia

  5. I think you must be a fine gardener...if you clean up as you go. That's the secret, maybe, I hate looking for the tools I know I have ,but where can they be now. So I am into things that grow back every year. LOL. Blessings, xoxo, Susie

  6. Oh, I must read that one. Thanks for the recommendation. Enjoy these beautiful summer days!

  7. Sounds like a great read and you are right her wit is so great. I am one that usually has a bucket of dead headed things in the yard. Happy Saturday. xoxo

  8. So true about the trowels! I think I still have three bendy ones "just in case". Maybe I'll purge them during the move (it's amazing how many "just in case" things have become "not worth moving"!)
    I am also really looking forward to having a garden shed at the new house - I've never had a space all my own to store my tools! Maybe my garden tools won't go walking away as much now???

  9. Sounds like it was the perfect read for you!

  10. I'm an expert at pottering and not just in the garden lol


High Fives from Wisconsin!

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