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Classics for the Gardener’s Bookshelf

Articles: Classics for the Gardener’s Bookshelf

No doubt many of us are wondering which gardening books to bring with us on the arks we’re building in this wettest of wet Decembers. Space will be limited, and who knows how long we’ll be afloat? So let me recommend one fairly heavy read that will keep you occupied for days if not weeks at sea, along with some favorite classics that will come in handy when and if dry ground reappears.

Imagine what would result if an extremely knotty early 20th-century German philosopher and literary critic were to write a book about gardening. That’s what you get in The Passionate Gardener (McPherson, 2006), by Rudolf Borchardt. Now, before you run out of the room screaming, hear me out. Yes, he spins wide-ranging historical arguments about the origins and meaning of gardens and writes in long, dense paragraphs. But what I treasure in the book is the way he elevates the significance of gardening as an essential and noble human endeavor. And he writes amazing descriptions of the distinctive qualities of the floras of North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. It’s not for everyone, but I promise if you stick with it you’ll come away with a profoundly enriched understanding of our earthy art.

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