Friday, April 23, 2010

"From the Ground Up" - Amy Stewart

These past couple of days I re-read “From the Ground-Up: The Story of a First Garden” and just had to tell the world how great it is, since I was too lazy to do it the first time around.

It’s a wonderful story and one that I think appeals to a new generation of gardeners who dream of planting a wild, rambling back yard and having a yummy salad at the end; people who think vegetables and herbs are just as beautiful as blooming flowers and who long to get their hands dirty. But also, people who have grown up with little to no tradition of gardening and who are, let’s face it, mostly clueless as to the actual nuts and bolts of keeping a garden.

We are the ones who dream of colour, scent and shade (and flavorful vegetables) and think it can be accomplished in a couple of runs to a garden center and afternoons spent outside. But we want the real thing, Sir! None of that feeble-minded, urban wooden decking, no outside lounge for us, where a few ornamental palms and olive trees in square terracotta pots form the perfect scenario for a late-night session of DJing and cocktails. Yuck!

Hell no! We want to be on first name basis with several insects, tomato varieties and types of manure. Like Amy Stewart we do not shiver at the thought of keeping worms so our plants may benefit from their rich casings. We’ll plant anything once. Except roses.

Just like the author as she began planning out her garden, we are a heady mixture of naïveté and hard-core ideals. Long-time gardeners might scoff but it takes persistence and passion to be wrong so often and still keep on chasing a vision.

Stewart has a narrative voice that feels real and down-to-earth. She is friendly and funny and when she is self-deprecatory it never once feels like a gimmick. This is a ready-made classic for the first-time gardener.

Reading “From the Ground Up” will probably avoid any mistakes, but this is no mere “how-to” book: it’s a memoir, a philosophical essay and a heroic tale all wrapped into one.


Jeane said...

I love books about gardening. This sounds like a good one!

bookworm (inês) said...

You'll love it. Plus there's a whole chapter about cats and gardens...

Jeane said...

Even better!