GREEN THOUGHTS: A Writer in the Garden by Eleanor Perenyi
Kirkus Star

GREEN THOUGHTS: A Writer in the Garden

Email this review


With Nan Fairbrother and Katherine White stilled, Eleanor Perenyi bids fair to be the new laureate of garden worlds past and present, and gardening matters-of-fact. In this gathering of her thoughts, the arrangement of topics is alphabetical--so the order is blissfully random: Annuals, Artichokes, Ashes, Asparagus, Asters, Autumn, among the A's; Lawns, Lilies, Longevity, for the less-endowed L's. Annuals calls forth regrets for the demise of the hardy sort (sweet peas, larkspur--already ""old-fashioned"" to the Victorians) and their replacement by ""tender"" greenhouse blooms--scentless, standardized, high-colored zinnias and marigolds, and the droopy, ubiquitous petunia. Autumn brings the nuisance of wild apples on the lawn, and the quandary: should the offending tree be felled? ""Memories of The Cherry Orchard make that impossible to face. The ring of the axe would be harrowing enough; now it's the whine of the chain saw, heard all too frequently in the village as the elms have gone down."" Birds are a mixed blessing too--but Perenyi gladly gives up her scarecrow, ""an increasingly derelict version of myself."" Reading for sheer delectation, one comes across kernels of advice. Looking for tips on the cultivation of a favored plant or the performance of a chore, one finds light refreshment: blues, with their ""overtones of class distinction,"" occasion a discursus on U and non-U gardening; compost inspires a tribute to the Jeremiah of chemical contamination, J. J. Rodale--who, Perenyi thinks, would have hit it off with another frustrated Pennsylvania farmer, S. J. Perelman. (Perenyi is herself an organic gardener--by, she believes, predisposition.) And there are subjects that are here simply for the excellent reason that Perenyi has something to say about them--like Longevity (of gardeners) and Woman's Place (among the posies?). Many of the entries, among them the last, are essays of some weight as well as considerable character. A fine, sturdy book for all its small pieces--easy to get into, hard to lay aside.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
ISBN: 037575945X
Publisher: Random House