A rich feast of a book that celebrates the extraordinarily satisfying joys of making and keeping a garden.



A novice beguilingly describes making her first garden, understanding that this project involves as much learning about life as about digging a flowerbed.

Stewart, raised and educated in Texas, moves with husband Scott to Santa Cruz, California, where they rent a bungalow opposite the local fairground and across from the boardwalk. Being within walking distance of the ocean and the beach more than compensates for the noise and lack of privacy in the summer, though on one occasion Stewart finds tourists sunbathing on her patio. The garden has been neglected and, with the exceptions of a lemon tree, an orange tree, and a wisteria, is mostly bare dirt. Stewart knows what she doesn’t want: something that looks like the lawn-covered suburban tracts she grew up with in Texas. Appending a collection of helpful tips to each chapter, she recalls beginning the garden on her first Saturday in the house, when she starts clearing the weeds and finds herself contending with the ubiquitous and obdurate oxalis. Soon she is a regular customer at the local nursery, where she splurges on plants and learns about the value of adding compost and raising red worms. When a houseguest is expected, she suddenly discovers the benefits of planting already blooming (but hitherto despised) annuals. Stewart writes about her two cats’ delight in sampling newly planted catmint; her vegetable garden, which eventually has to be corralled into more formal beds; the gratifying sensations of eating homegrown lettuce and tomatoes. She closes in October, as she puts the garden to bed for winter and observes migrating Monarch butterflies enjoying the last of her summer flowers. While gardening, she learns about her neighbors, about the town itself, and about the seasons that order a garden and a gardener’s life.

A rich feast of a book that celebrates the extraordinarily satisfying joys of making and keeping a garden.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2001

ISBN: 1-56512-240-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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