cover image The Gardener's Eye and Other Essays: And Other Essays

The Gardener's Eye and Other Essays: And Other Essays

Allen Lacy. Atlantic Monthly Press, $21.95 (282pp) ISBN 978-0-87113-473-8

``How does a nice daylily get saddled with a name like `Little Bugger'?'' In his third collection of essays, New York Times gardening columnist Lacy ( The Garden in Autumn ) proves refreshingly willing to share his somewhat wayward enthusiasms along with improving information. His range is to be envied. Lacy rarely seeks just to acquaint readers with plants (though when he does, as in ``Geraniums by Fischer,'' it's welcome). Instead, he goes anywhere his calling takes him: architecture (``Gaudi's Trees,'' about Antoni Gaudi's Parc Guellsic in Barcelona); etymology (where we find ``Little Bugger'' nestled); domestic affairs, often comic but not overplayed; and horticultural history. In the last category is the memorable essay ``Listening to Miss Lawrence,'' on the late Elizabeth Lawrence, where the author offers not only an affectionate, admiring glimpse of a legendary gardening writer but perceptive comments on his emblematic editorial relationship with her. Lacy calls himself an amateur gardener; though in real terms he seems anything but, his appetite for discovering what lies in and out of the garden, and his ingenuous knack for enjoying it, recall an exuberant neophyte. His knowledge and his playfulness supply us with ``civic'' tulips, ``scowling cats,'' what he calls the typical gardener's ``fickleness,'' and varied philosophic asides. (Jan.)