The Roots of my Obsession, Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why They Garden, edited by Thomas Cooper, Timber Press.
Under the stewardship of Thomas Cooper, innovative Timber Press collected first hand experiences of distinguished gardeners from around the globe and encapsulated them into a little book whose size belies the grandeur of its contents.
Do not be misled by the title. This is not a collection of cobbled – together, self-congratulatory paeans to horticulture. Instead, consider it a jewelry box filled with personal sketches that touch the heart of those that open its cover. Mr. Cooper himself has written a sublimely crafted introduction that represents garden writing at its best.
Imagine your favorite musicians. Then, think what a concert would sound like if they all assembled to perform at a command performance. Now, envisage this publication; for that’s what this is: - a concert of master gardeners, each with their own moving solo.
The publishers solicited thirty personal recollections from some of the world’s most prominent horticultural voices to find out what motivated them. It is not a coincidence that they are all, in their own right, superb garden writers. Only the splendor of their professional accomplishments surpasses the beautiful skills of communication they display here.
On a personal note, I found this book quite meaningful. As a male gardener, I enjoyed reading the candid, autobiographical pieces submitted by men who, like me, combine the attributes of manhood with the tender wonderment of discovery.
While those of us who work in the horticultural industry experience a satisfying social camaraderie, [we have opportunities to see ourselves reflected in other male colleagues], too many of our gender find gardening to be a lonely activity.
From that perspective, such a collection of personal confidences, wherein half the articles were written by men, makes this book significant for me; it validates the male gardener who sometimes finds himself in print, social media, and in the flowerbeds, vastly outnumbered by his respected and talented female colleagues. However, that personal observation in no way deprecates the rich contributions of the other fifty percent of the contributors - our female rock stars of gardening.
Some of the participants in this book submitted short essays, others have written a short narrative. A large number connect the dots of gardening back to pleasurable childhood experiences. Regardless of the kind of horticultural journey they travelled, all share a love for this passionate hobby.
With a variety of thirty different personal experiences to discover, readers who garden will find themselves reflected in the pages of this book. Those who are considering entering the field, for recreation or vocation, will be even more inspired to do so. As for the already committed, it will feel good to learn about others who are very much like us. Welcome to the personally - rewarding universe of gardening.