A cultivated patch of fertile plots and well-tended prose.



A World of Gardens 

By John Dixon Hunt


This captivating and richly illustrated work from University of Pennsylvania landscape scholar John Dixon Hunt explores with most un-academic brio the fascinating variety of gardens found the world over. From the rough volcanic rocks used in Japanese gardens to the carefully-tended topiary of Versailles, Hunt's magnificent tour of global horticulture opens our eyes to the garden in its many guises: playground, theater, laboratory, and cathedral.



The Garden Primer

By Barbara Damrosch


How deep do you plant irises? What kind of soil does asparagus like? How do you plant a tree? Prune roses? Force tulips? Select tools? Damrosch has collected every tidbit of knowledge necessary for gardening success in this straightforward, well-illustrated tome. If you buy one instructional book, this should be it.




Embroidered Ground 

By Page Dickey


Celebrated gardener Page Dickey has spent thirty years cultivating a plot covering as many acres, now known as Duck Hill. Hovering between a memoir and an artist's detailed record of her life's masterwork, her new book introduces readers to her garden's residents (Pennisetum and an "old-lady pink" Viburnum, dogwood and feverfew) as if they were citizens of a fairy nation. Our reviewer, Peter Lewis, writes, "She loves her garden as if it were a child -- with joy, distress, responsibility, guilt -- which is the most beautiful thing of all." (Click here to read Lewis's review.)



Down the Garden Path

By Beverley Nichols


"I bought my cottage by sending a wireless to Timbuctoo from the Mauretania, at midnight, with a fierce storm lashing the decks." So begins this most enjoyable and stylish record of one man's garden. Nichols's 1932 memoir of a cottage in the British countryside and its attendant flora has lost none of its droll appeal.



Gardens for a Beautiful America, 1895-1935 

By Sam Watters


Published in collaboration with the Library of Congress, this collection of 250 dazzling colored photographs of American gardens by Frances Benjamin Johnston showcases images that haven't been seen since 1940. As Gilded Age industrialism took its toll on America's natural landscapes, moneyed society women turned to Johnston to teach them how to green their estates. These images, first used as lantern slides in her lectures, are vintage windows onto a verdant world.



Old Herbaceous: A Novel of the Garden

By Reginald Arkell


Rather than stop at just five books, we had to stretch a point to include this novel of the garden -- can you think of another? Combining the jollity of Wodehouse and the pleasures of a country house tour, Arkell's 1950 tale chronicles Bert Pinnegar's eight decades in an English manor house garden, from his youth as a flower-loving orphan to his old age as an estimable master of the plots. Sheer delight and the lone fiction entry in the Modern Library Gardening series edited by Michael Pollan.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.