Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice

February 09, 2003|By Michael Pakenham

Gardening in Eden, by Arthur T. Vanderbilt II. Simon and Schuster. 208 pages. $23.

Like travel and wine, fly-fishing and mountain climbing, gardening inspires its most splendid writing through the spirit of the fancy, not its technicalities. This contemplative essay by a New Jersey lawyer / gardener is exemplary in precisely that sense. Though there is a great deal of specific insight here about planting, species, drainage and the like, the genuine joy the book offers is in its celebration of the experience of gardening. Vanderbilt put in a small pond. What next? "My first frog even made his way to the pool on his own. Exactly how he did this is a mystery as baffling as how ancient man made his appearance in various far-flung outposts of the world." Read it in this season of preparation.

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