cover image The American Man's Garden

The American Man's Garden

Rosemary Verey. Little Brown and Company, $40 (165pp) ISBN 978-0-8212-1774-0

Esteemed English gardener and writer Verey ( The American Woman's Garden ) goes about her task of surveying gardens tilled by American males with a refreshing lack of agenda: all she is searching for is invigorating cultivated greenery. It is here in elegance and abundance, in words and pictures. The gardeners selected, who tell their stories in their own words, number 27, and they are as farflung as the continent will allow, from the desert fantasy of Cliff Douglas in Mesa, Ariz., to the enchantingly old-fashioned restored Victorian garden of George Radford in Vancouver (as a Canadian, the book's single exception). Every reader will have a favorite, whether the carefully orchestrated expanses of Williams Banks's grounds in Newnan, Ga. (``I strive for mass effects''), or the slightly maverick beauty of Robert Dash's 1.91 acres on Long Island, N.Y. (Dash's testimony is the book's most eloquent). Thumbnail sketches of the gardeners reveal that most are professional designers or landscapers, which accounts for a rosy perfection of plot. But humility lends a nearly constant scent: ``I was nowhere near where I wanted to be in gardening skills then,'' Dash confides, ``and still am not.'' (Nov.)