In a Green Shade: Writings from Homeground

 
9780618003785: In a Green Shade: Writings from Homeground

Since 1993, truly fortunate gardeners have been those who have subscribed to Allen Lacy's HOMEGROUND, a quarterly newsletter. Now over a hundred pieces of writing taken from this lively periodical appear as IN A GREEN SHADE. Many of them grow from the author's thirty years of experience transforming a small suburban lot into a private Eden, with its woodland garden, its cottage garden, and its extensive deck and container gardens. Readers will find thoughtful discussions of perennials, annuals, and woody plants, as well as the tropical and subtropical plants that are of such keen interest today. After taking in Lacy's spirited recommendations, they will find themselves unable to do without the daffodil called 'Hawera', the hosta 'Sum and Substance', fragrant-leaved geraniums, or the Roughneck Stool from Rubbermaid (a weeder's helper). IN A GREEN SHADE also travels farther afield, commenting on botanical history and such matters as the perennial conflict between gardeners and television weather reporters, or between proponents of native plants and their more cosmopolitan colleagues. As Henry Mitchell wrote of Lacy's THE GARDEN IN AUTUMN, "Among other virtues, it is based on firsthand experience by a gardener who happens to be an admirable writer."

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Review:

Allen Lacy is a philosophy professor who loves plants--what a perfect combination for a garden essayist. Collected in this volume are selections from his quarterly newsletter, Homeground, which has delighted gardeners around the world for the last seven years. The newsletter is a rich tapestry of experience and opinion, of plants, weather, and musings on digging in the dirt. It is a joy to have in In a Green Shade a distillation of Lacy's knowledgeable prose, honed during his five years as garden columnist for The Wall Street Journal and seven years for The New York Times.

"Can there be a scintilla of doubt that the most mysteriously neglected plants in North America at the moment are the cape fuchsias?" asks Lacy, who then goes on to explain why we should all be growing at least several Phygelius cultivars. He describes how he planted an arbor to drip gourds through its crosspieces, and how the Aztecs domesticated dahlias from wildlings growing in the mountains of central Mexico. His interests are far-ranging, and he takes his readers along with him on an exploration of all things horticultural.

What makes this book especially useful is that it comes from Lacy's own firsthand gardening experience working in his small, suburban New Jersey garden. He is faced, like the rest of us, with unexpected storms, late freezes, and not enough space to indulge all his plant enthusiasms. The difference is that he is a fine writer who is able to transform his experiences into literature to amuse us when we brush the dirt off our hands and come in from the garden. --Valerie Easton

About the Author:

Allen Lacy is professor emeritus of philosophy at Stockton College and the author or editor of ten books on gardening. He was the garden columnist for the WALL STREET JOURNAL for five years and for the NEW YORK TIMES for seven. A native Texan, he lives and gardens in southern New Jersey.

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