Monday, January 25, 2010

Garden Bounty of the Literary Kind

When we think about the bounty of our gardens, we envision perhaps a bushel basket full of freshly-picked sweet corn or a bouquet of fragrant wildflowers. We may  remember the visual beauty of our landscape and how it serves as our refuge from the hectic nature of our everyday lives.


But, for me, one of the greatest products of the garden is the abundance of words that have been written by gardeners throughout the centuries as they embrace the beauty of nature, fill themselves with the sense of accomplishment that comes from tilling the soil, and understand the cycle of life that underlies all their horticultural endeavors.

Before the days of e-commerce, I could spend copious amounts of time browsing bookstore bargain tables, looking for that gem that didn't receive mainstream attention, but nonetheless contained valuable information or inspiration in its pages. Since Amazon.com launched its Used and New service, allowing third party booksellers to shop their titles through the Amazon website, I've been addicted to finding deals on gardening books to add to my collection. My personal favorites are those titles selling for a penny (plus $3.99 shipping).

In the past week, I received five titles that run the gamut of garden publishing: Two garden writing anthologies assembled by David Wheeler (By Pen & By Spade (1990) and The Penguin Book of Garden Writing (1996)); a collection of poetry, prose and photography edited by Leslie Geddes-Brown (Sweet Days and Roses (2003)); a witty, comedic look at the frustrations of gardening by William Alexander (The $64 Tomato (2006)); and a scientific look at the biology of plants by Brian Capon (Botany for Gardeners (2005)). As a whole, the five titles cost less than $25, including the shipping.

As the winter months progress, I look forward to what each of these titles has to offer in the way of knowledge and inspiration. At the very least, they will provide a few rays of intellectual sunshine to warm the gray matter during the garden's winter slumber.

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