This was one of my finds at the Friends of Washoe County Library used book sale yesterday: A Year in My Garden by late Reno resident Angela Denevi. You’ve probably never heard of Angela, so let me tell you what I know about her.
Angela was an established member of Nevada Press Women when I joined as a new journalism grad the 1970s. I didn’t get to know her very well, but I remember her as being nice.
What I really remember is her garden column. It was like a bible to me. When do you prune roses? How do you divide irises? What plants will survive our winters? She knew everything. Sure, the Sunset garden guide provides information on climate zones. But Angela lived right here, and she knew about Washoe Zephyrs, late freezes and awful soil.
My mother-in-law happened to have a beautiful border garden here in Reno herself, and I found myself having to be careful not to quote Angela to her. She didn’t want to know that her roses showed signs of cane borer disease, she didn’t like irises and she was going to keep pruning when and the way she always had. Her garden was at least as beautiful as Angela’s, but she hated the competition.
I was too cheap to buy Angela’s book when she published it in 1989. I already had all the clippings, right? But when I found it at the sale yesterday for $1, I was delighted. And when I got home and opened it, I was thrilled to find she had autographed it. She dedicated the book to “all those gardeners who, through their hard work and perseverance, have proved that our lovely desert valley can be made more beautiful because of their efforts.”
Angela died in 1992, but I still think of her and her advice when I’m working in my yard. I really should divide the irises this year.