In this memoir and gardening manual, a lifelong naturalist shares his love and detailed knowledge of plants and animals.
In the preface to this engaging book of essays, Plummer reveals that most of them were previously published in the newsletter of the Spencer Crest Nature Center, near his home in New York state's southern tier. Indeed, the richly informative chapters that follow will make readers feel as if they’re part of a select society of those who not only love to observe nature, but also to take part in it through gardening. Beginning with chapters on “Early Bird Watching” and “The Evolution of a Garden,” Plummer describes his own development as an amateur naturalist and a gardener. His avuncular humor, apparent in the title pun and in such chapters as “Among Fronds” and “What Woodst Thou?” injects a pleasantly conversational tone that effectively counteracts the book’s tendency toward repetition and long lists. The book is filled with engaging details, such as that cedar waxwing birds get drunk on fermented mountain ash berries, and practical suggestions, such as which type of trowel to use for specific jobs. Although most of the author’s observations center on his expansive 50-year-old garden in Painted Post, New York, the penultimate chapter, “Tripping the Light Fantastic!” is a chronicle of various expeditions in upstate New York, Delaware, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state to observe new plants, animals, and minerals. Plummer’s approach may be too dense with facts for casual readers, but it’s an excellent handbook for the serious gardener or student of nature, who’ll be fascinated to learn, for example, about the delicate blue wildflower called Venus’ looking-glass, also known as whorled loosestrife. Sections on “Common Names / Latin Names” and “Garden Quotes” from other authors add interest, and a detailed index makes it easy to access the book’s plentiful information.
An informative guide to tending a garden and appreciating the natural world.