STALKING THE WILD AMARANTH: Gardening in an Age of Extinction by Janet Marinelli

STALKING THE WILD AMARANTH: Gardening in an Age of Extinction

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A level and elegant introduction to (and history of) natural gardening from Marinelli. Not just the rainforest is in trouble, Marinelli reminds readers. The flora of East Hampton, NY, is in equal peril, as are fully one-third of this country's native plants. Is it possible that gardeners--your everyday, garden-variety gardeners--can have a role shepherding those waifs and wastrels from the brink, perhaps even rescue and restore ancient natural communities? Marinelli thinks so. Her gardens, one in New York City and another on nearby Shelter Island, are organic forms, part of the local ecosystem, evolving from the site and climate, taking their cues from native plants (but not hog-tied to them). In the city she seeks to re-create an echo of the primeval oak forest setting, while on the island it's a meadow/wetland. Her ideal garden would have room for a diversity of species within a variety of habitats: productive and fertile, subtle and refined, celebrating the connection between humans and nature. Marinelli's garden ethic is the product of many sources, which she details in her narrative: a well-rounded discussion of the natives vs. exotics; garden design from ancient Greece to the present; the possibilities and limitations of biodynamic agriculture, French intensive gardening, permaculture, and restoration; aspects of gardens within gardens: Gustav Stickley's pergolas, Frank Lloyd Wright's glass rooms, Zen dry gardens, kitchen and water gardens; as well as the many personalities who have shaped the ever-shifting aesthetic of garden design. She also takes readers on a sweet tour of, and offers an ode to, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, where she works as the director of publishing. Marinelli is too adventurous to be a strict nativist, but she also knows where help is needed: ""I'm all for planting natives unless there's a good reason not to, since indigenous species have lost--and continue to lose--so much ground.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Henry Holt