Our Life in Gardens

Joe Eck, Author, Wayne Winterrowd, Author, Bobbi Angell, Illustrator . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (322p) ISBN 978-0-374-16031-9

“Plants, like words in poetry,” observe Eck and Winterrowd (founders of the Vermont garden design firm North Hill), “are both beautiful in themselves and also for the associations they trail behind, the histories they have in the world and in one's own life.” In nearly 50 erudite and entertaining essays stretching alphabetically from Agapanthus to Xanthorrhoea quadrangulate, Eck and Winterrowd share the history of their Vermont garden, writing about the plants they have lived with, nurtured and nourished, in a sort of inverse family memoir, where the parent remembers the children—the trouble-free, the troubling and the troubled. “Helleborus orientalis,” for example, “is an entirely amiable plant,” while the “wisteria flower most freely under abuse... violent root pruning and frequent hacking back of top growth to encourage abundant flower.” Any gardener may find its specific (and sometime technical) advice helpful, but walkers among gardens and those who dream of gardening will find special pleasure in plant lore and history and in the lucid descriptions that render them visible. Eck and Winterrowd describe their book as “a mixed bag, a gypsy trunk of this and that,” but treasure chest is more accurate; the essays are gems, not baubles. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/08/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 322 pages - 978-0-374-53213-0
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