Great book! This is a fun exploration of a bunch of issues related to one man's attempt to create a diverse garden at his home. It looks at everything from his childhood memories of gardens, to pest control, to the various needs of different kinds of plants and trees, to overall landscape design. Pollan points out in the book that most of American nature writing is on the subject of wilderness, not gardening. This book is a great contribution to that neglected subject.
I really, really like Michael Pollan's writing and this book is no exception. However, this book suffers from the same problem that I've noted on his other books that I've read: sometimes he just doesn't know when to stop.
Pollan calls himself on this tendency in his introduction:
"It may be my nature to complicate matters unduly, to search for large meanings in small things..."
My favorite sections:
Chapter 1: memories of his father and grandfather's very different approaches to gardening. His dad's reaction to suburban peer pressure: hilarious!
Chapter 2: Pollan's personal battle to protect his garden, especially against woodchucks.
Chapter 11: a comparison of the various world views represented by different seed/gardening catalogs
My least favorite sections:
Chapter 5: I am bored almost to tears by roses. Worthless.
Chapter 9: Pollan's waxing philosophical about the symbolism of trees in various cultures was much too drawn out. Yawn.
Overall, worth reading if you like Pollan's writing style and have any interest in gardening.
Pollan's first book is more about the philosophy and morality of gardening that about gardening itself.