A re-read of this book has been like hooking up with a long lost friend. Prescient, opinionated and joyful all in one. While there are essays on organic gardening, the value of seed saving which all but take your breath away with their foresight, my personal favorite is her essay on dahlias. We disagree about daylilies but about dahlias we are kindred spirits.
In his introduction to the Modern Library Garden Classics series, Michael Pollan cites two inspirations for his career as a botanical writer. The first was a war with a raiding woodchuck, the second was reading this book. I can understand it. The book is made up of a series of essays arranged in alphabetical order from "Annuals" to "Woman's Place" and each one is so good you will want to share them with anyone you know who takes an interest in growing things. The essays are filled with practical information on everything from roses to herbs, perennials to pruning, but the author's breathtaking knowledge of the history and culture of gardening gives an added dimension to everything she discusses.
The real charm of the book, though, is her contrarian wit and her satirical savaging of the commercial food industry, the petrochemical companies and their gardening products, and the god-awful taste on display in the plantings of so much of suburban America.
This is not just a great book for gardeners, it is a work of literature.
I had this book many years ago and recently bought and reread it. I was stunned to find how profoundly it had affected my earlier gardening experience! It encouraged me to consider ideas, plants, and suppliers I didn't even know about, or that I knew about but had never paid attention to. Many of my attitudes toward mulching and composting, roses, insects, lawns, sprays, and other things were changed or confirmed by her writings. It is also a very pleasant way to spend some winter afternoons when garden design and shopping have struck a snag.