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Book Review

Like all rose gardeners I enjoy a good horticultural read now and then. I was lured into purchasing “Second Nature, A Gardener's Education,” by Michael Pollan when I read page one. Reading Michael's description of his gardens I felt he was talking about me.

Page one discusses the two gardens Michael Pollan has in his life. The first one is perfect, with plants free of insect damage, disease and is always lush and blooming. The second garden in his life, is the actual garden he has when looked upon without rose colored glasses. The ground and soil is difficult to work with, some plants are ready to pass on and others are crazy and invasive. He points out that after years of care his actual garden is something that is finally starting to meet his imaginary one.

How can the above description not draw in an avid gardener? Isn't this what we all see? We look at a plot of dirt and crud and rocky soil and we can see something beautiful. We all garden and toil, sometimes on a piece of property that no one else would bother with, because we see a beautfiul garden in our minds. No it's not actually there, but we have faith and we can see it if not out the corner of our eye then at least in our imagination.

Michael Pollan describes the heart felt childhood relationship he had with his grandfather, who was his gardening inspiration. While they didn't have similar views about what constitutes the ideal garden, the story of their relationship is one that many gardeners who found their passion from another's example can completely relate and warm to.

The remainder of the book is broken up into the four seasons with various chapters in each season. He discusses both the co-existing and adversarial relationship of the gardener with nature. Chapter 5 covers the variety of ways, which I'm sure you've never even thought of, that roses are bizarrely sexual. The environmental ramifications of planting a lawn are discussed. In chapter 9 he purchases a tree for his yard. He discusses everything involved in planting this tree in his yard, from selection, to the days spent trying to visualize it full grown in various locations of his property, to the actual steps involved in planting and caring for his new charge.

If you've ever wondered what constitutes a green thumb, how insane you can possibly to go with gardening catalogs or enjoy envisioning the insanity you could give a neighbor by having weeds in your lawn, you'll laugh, chuckle and learn while reading “Second Nature.” Michael Pollan's constant awareness that he is a gardener working alongside nature, which always has the final word, is both refreshing and eye opening. No gardener rose or otherwise should miss out on the cover to cover inspiration found in this memoir.

If you would like to purchase the paperback "Second Nature" by Michael Pollan, Amazon sells it here: Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

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