Sitting in the Shade: A Decade of my Garden Diary

Hugh Johnson. Mitchell Beazley, $22.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-78472-707-9
Johnson (Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book) collects 10 years’ worth of his “Trad’s Diary” column (written under a nom de plume) from the Royal Horticultural Society’s journal for this charming outing. As Johnson covers 2010–2020 month by month, he lightly but pointedly muses on climate change; reports on gardens he’s visited in England, France, and California; and sings the praises of weeding (“the very essence of gardening”) and old gardening magazines. Having “a gardener’s eye,” Johnson writes, “means a critical view of almost anywhere plants grow,” and through this lens, his meditations focus on the color red (“tricky... in the garden”), animals native to France (“every rabbit is a threat and a deer a disaster”), biodiversity, and how gardening amounts to an attempt to control nature. Johnson records his observations of the natural world in vivid prose; one winter, he notices “the sun painting sharp blue shadows,” and near spring, “Crocuses are like snowdrops, interesting as individuals but sensational in whole armies.” Ruminative, witty, and wryly humorous, Johnson’s account provides rich sustenance for the spirits of new and seasoned gardeners alike. (June)
Reviewed on : 02/25/2021
Release date: 05/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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