The Garden Against Time

Olivia Laing. Norton, June

In this “searching study,” according to PW’s starred review, “Laing examines how historical British gardens reflect the periods in which they were designed and contemporaneous understandings of paradise on Earth.” She discusses the exclusionary excesses of wealthy aristocrats whose grounds profited from the exploitation of others, as well as the gardeners who planted with inclusive, utopian intentions, emphasizing throughout “the ways in which gardens connect individuals across history.”

The Gift of a Garden

Alice Taylor. O’Brien, July

Taylor’s inherited patch of green in Ireland, she writes, has taught her that “though a garden is definitely a thing of beauty and a joy forever, it is also a thing of beauty and a job forever!” In these recollections, first published in 2013 and newly returned to print, she looks back at the memorable plants and fellow cultivators she’s encountered in the course of her gardening life, grateful that “gardeners are by nature generous, so their gardening knowledge is for every garden.”

A Life in the Garden

Barbara Damrosch. Timber, Oct.

Horticultural professional Damrosch, who for 14 years wrote the weekly “A Cook’s Garden” column for the Washington Post, is a longtime advocate for the practical pleasures of growing one’s own food. Episodes from her days among the vegetable beds— for instance, she dances to “I’m So Excited” to celebrate a new crop of tomatoes—are interspersed with advice on soil cultivation, planting seasons, and falling in love with gardening at any age, inspired by “the contagious joy I see in the plants themselves,”she writes, “as their seeds sprout, their leaves are lifted to meet the sun, and their edible parts beguile us.”


My Garden (Book)

Jamaica Kincaid. Picador, July

When this title first pubbed in 1999, PW’s review said, “Celebrated novelist Kincaid should delight fans of her fiction and connoisseurs of the literature of horticulture with this personable and brightly descriptive, if somewhat rambling, book-length essay, most of it about her own garden in Vermont.” Now in a new edition with a new charcoal cover illustration by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, the book shifts between the practical and technical difficulties of gardening and the larger philosophical and psychological questions it prompts, dealing with geography, heritage, marriage, motherhood, and power.


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