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Mirabel Osler

  • There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.

  • ... why on earth do the French torture trees? Why those aggressive amputations? Espalier and cordon, fan-trained or pyramidal are all brilliant and desirable forms in certain places, but in France they seem to go mad with hostility toward their trees.

  • Architectural lines such as those from hedges, walls, paths or topiary are the bones of a garden. But it is the artist who then allows dishevelment and abandonment to evolve. ... How rare to see a real cottage garden. It is far more difficult to achieve than a contrived garden. It requires intuition, a genius for letting things have their head.

  • Planting trees is a venture into the future, it is a hand held out to other generations.

  • Then there is the ... satisfaction of looking at pictures of gardens which you are absolutely certain, instantly and instinctively, that you do not want. Everything you see is hideous. They are the pinnacle of brilliant undesirability. ... Reading what some people do to their gardens is like struggling with another language; you can't imagine what they are getting at.

  • Water is compulsive; it draws each of us to gaze transfixed in a becalmed state which few other things induce so forcibly.

  • ... we have learnt one thing the hard way; it is this: take other gardeners' advice on design, or accept their plants, only after you have seen their gardens.

  • ... starting a garden is the beginning of making a series of mistakes.

  • The intransigence of roses is something we have had to accept and now ... I know which are docile and benevolent from those which are headstrong; those that are pliant from those which are pig-headed.

  • Not all flowers are things of beauty ... heather! how it mutilates gardens with its puréed fruit-pulp appearance, its neutered growth and depressing meanness. ... Effete lupins or doleful bulks of rhododendrons do nothing to make my hair stand on end; neither do raucous gladioli which might work growing on the back seat of a sports car, but which look spitefully aggressive lifting their heads above the pallid hues of docile flowers.

Mirabel Osler, English writer, garden designer


Full name: Mirabel E E Birnstingl Osler.