cover image The Liberty Hyde Bailey Gardener’s Companion: Essential Writings

The Liberty Hyde Bailey Gardener’s Companion: Essential Writings

Liberty Hyde Bailey, edited by John Stempien and John Lindstrom. Comstock, $26.95 (318p) ISBN 978-1-5017-4023-7

This illustrated collection of essays and poems by famed botanist Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858–1954), known as the “Father of Modern Horticulture,” elucidates his philosophical and practical approach to gardening: “The kinds [of flowers] I like best are the ones easiest to grow.” Editors Stempien and Linstrom, who have both served as director of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum in South Haven, Mich., group the material thematically; starting with general garden advice, proceeding through Bailey’s thoughts on growing plants, flowers, fruits, and vegetables; and ending with his reflections on the cycle of the seasons. His work can seem prescient, as when Bailey muses, “I wonder whether in time the perfection of fabrication will not reach such a point that some fruits will be known to the great public only by the picture on the package or on the bottle.” Bailey’s work manages, at its best, to marry literature—he finds in a poem by Emerson an “expression of a universal passion—the passion to know the fields and the growing things”—with practical instruction in a graceful, thoughtful manner. This earnest collection will likely introduce Bailey’s name to a new generation of gardeners and reacquaint older ones with the ideas of a justly celebrated master. [em](Sept.) [/em]