By Pen & by Spade: An Anthology of Garden Writing from Hortus

David Wheeler, Other Summit Books $24.95 (248p) ISBN 978-0-671-74274-4
Gardeners in search of practical tidbits about ``mealy bugs and hanging baskets'' will discover much more than just that kind of down-to-earth information in this charmingly idiosyncratic collection of essays compiled from Hortus magazine, a British journal founded by Wheeler in 1987. Lyrical in tone, with a decidedly literary bent, these essays occupy a considerably more high-minded perch than most how-to manuals: they explore the pleasures of gardening through various writers' personal reminiscences and singular preoccupations. Robert Dash, for example, ponders the similarities between gardening and poetry, while Rosemary Verey contemplates Charleston's small courtyard gardens. Hermia Oliver fastens on Flaubert's gardens; Dennis Wood muses on the particular joys of gardening after retirement. For all their lofty intent, however, these essays also contain all sorts of good gardening advice, from how to plant a scent garden (``Stick to a sunny, sheltered spot,'' advises Stephen Lacey) to how to grow blue-hued gentians (seek out an acid soil, counsels Stephen G. Haw). In his foreword, Sir Roy Strong states that garden writing is a ``peculiarly British phenomenon.'' From reading the essays in this anthology, it's clear that the tradition is still thriving. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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