Great garden books, part 1
Garden writers recommend eight top garden books.
(Page 2 of 2)
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'Gardening for a Lifetime'
"In addition to being a practical guide to making gardening less labor-intensive, it's an engrossing story of Sydney's Connecticut garden from its beginning in 1961 to 2010," Karan reports."While written with the older gardener in mind, it's a wonderful guide for anyone whose beds and borders have gotten out of hand.
“Sydney is a graceful writer, author of six other books, and the recipient of a truckload of horticultural awards," adds Karan. "Additionally, she's a seriously hands-on gardener; the creator of a garden that's been featured in magazines and is a regular stop for garden clubs, plant societies, and more. To wit, she knows about what she writes, and she writes with enthusiasm and style.."
"I second Karan's recommendation of Sydney Eddison's 'Gardening for a Lifetime,' " says Doreen Howard, who writes the gardening blog at the Old Farmer's Almanac website. “I read it to do the book review [for] The American Gardener, but was so struck by her wisdom that I ended up reading it again. We all slow down with age, some of us (like me) slow due to temporary injuries, and Eddison's lessons on gardening and life are almost the holy grail for gardening through time.”
'Places for the Spirit'
One garden book that I did read this year and am happy to recommend is "Places for the Spirit" (Trinity University Press, $29.95). Subtitled Traditional African American Gardens, this evocative book is filled with black and white photographs taken by Vaughn Sills across the South over the past almost 20 years.
To non-Southerners, many of these gardens may appear to be mostly collections of random items strewn about. But look more closely, Professor Sills urges in her photos.
"I see a sense of both order and mystery," she says, "with visual and soul-satisfying contrast between open space and dense arrangements of plant life." Many of the objects in these yards and gardens (which may seem to the casual viewer to be ordinary) have symbolic and spiritual meanings going back centuries to andestral African homelands, she notes. Bottle trees, for instance, provide ceremonial protection.
The long introduction, by Lowry Pei, helps enlighten the reader to whom this subject matter is new. It's impossible to read this book, or even leaf through it casually, and not want to learn more about the traditions of African-American gardening and the meanings behind them -- the use of water, circles, pipes, and shiny objects, for instance..
"Places for the Spirit" is a beautiful and respectful introduction to these traditions and to those who are continuing them in their yards and gardens. What a joyful group of people and what a joy-filled book this is.