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Beautiful Madness: One Man's Journey Through…

Beautiful Madness: One Man's Journey Through Other People's Gardens

by James Dodson

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This book is mostly typical fare for inspirational gardening books, with a bit of the author's personal history in gardening along with experiences of a number of fairly prominent gardening personalities. I enjoyed the author's descriptions of the Philadelphia Garden Show, as it reminds me of my own experiences at the Washington Garden Show in the 1990s. An unusual and somewhat disturbing light is cast by the last quarter of the book, which describes the author's trip to South Africa on safari for plant rarities. His Afrikaner guides, all of them owners or recent owners of land under pressure from the government or legions of impoverished black citizens, uniformly complain about the conditions of life under the new government that threaten ecological destruction of the environments where the plant rarities are found. I assume the author is sincere and the problem is real, but he makes no effort to approach the problem from the perspective of the desperate people these policies are meant to benefit, nor does he try to avoid the appearance of nostalgia for the British colonial era. ( )
  baobab | Sep 28, 2014 |
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"During an amazing year of living botanically, in quest of deepening his own ever-consuming knowledge and interest in gardening, James Dodson went behind the scenes of the world's two most important garden shows (the Philadelphia Flower Show and the Chelsea Garden Show in London); spent time with a man nicknamed the Botticelli of Bulbs; attended a rare plant auction of high rollers; got adopted as a personal project by a famous garden club of colonial dames; sneaked into a Hosta convention; communed with the kindred spirits of Thomas Jefferson and John Bartram; met a man smuggling exotic day lilies in the trunk of his car; spent a weekend on the Isle of Wight with the Madman of Kew and his gardening wife (she keeps Queen Victoria's estate); uncovered the secrets of ten or twelve of the Western world's most influential gardens; swiped cuttings from a Founding Father's shrubbery; hung out with some of the most accomplished gardening fanatics on earth; built three new gardens of his own; and wound up hanging perilously from a limb on the side of a cliff in Southern Africa, where he capped off his year of discovery by tagging along with four of America's leading plant hunters on an expedition into the rugged jungles to find the exotic new species of tomorrow."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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