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Published to rave reviews in 1993, Noah's Garden shows us how our landscape style of neat yards and gardens has devastated suburban ecology, wiping out entire communities of plants and animals by stripping bare their habitats and destroying their food supplies. When Stein realized what her intensive efforts at making a traditional garden had done, she set out to "ungarden." Her book interweaves an account of her efforts with an explanation of the ecology of gardens. Noah's Garden has become the bible of the new environmental gardening movement, and the author is one of its most popular spokespersons.
This book is lovely, extraordinarily well written, and very important. It traces the author's own experience of gardening from conventional hobbyist to custodian of the land and all the life it supports. Elegantly woven into the narrative of her personal experience is her deep knowledge of American history and ecology. Sara Stein has changed forever my relationship to my garden (and to soil microorganisms, amphibians, birds, insects, and wildlife), inspired me to dig a pond, and enriched my life more than any single book I can think of.
Been gardening in harmony with nature as much as possible since I was about ten years old. It's nice to have someone put a voice to it. Sometimes it gets to be a little overwhelming, all this "literary nonfiction" prose voice in the book when a little less adherence to scansion and more to information sharing would be useful.
And how many times must I hear that she lives on 6 acres in Pound Ridge. What's hubby do on Wall St.?
I get the feeling this book will seem precious and trite in ten years more time, which does more harm to ecological movements than help. If ecology can be shown to be precious, the bastion of privileged women in Westchester, then its detractors will be able to deride it more effectively and limit its influence to the wealthy leisurely class. Joe and Jane Six Pack need a version of this book for real people with little time and no money.
This lyrical account of restoring a landscape that supports all forms of life takes the reader down a familiar gardening path that branches off onto a road less taken. The author shares her transition from meticulous and careful gardener to becoming a keeper-of-the-land. Taking this journey with Sara Stein as your guide will change forever how you look at your garden.
And it's a great read. This author knows how to use words superbly.