Paths of Desire: The Passions of a Suburban Gardener
cloth, 237 p., $24
This charming little book does, indeed, describe the passions of a suburban gardener, both for her garden and for “the True Love.” Paths of desire, author Dominique Browning explains, are “traced by people’s habits of movement from one place to another, the paths that make clear where we want to go, and how we want to get there.... regardless of the paths laid down by professionals...people will cut their own convenient, or pleasurable, ways through yards and meadows and fields.” In her book Paths of Desire: The Passions of a Suburban Gardener, Browning recounts the paths she has taken, both in her personal life with “the True Love” and in the remaking of her garden.
As editor-in-chief of House & Garden magazine, Browning is not your average suburban gardener. She has a large number of “Helpful Men” on call. As one of them remarked about fixing her roof, it “just takes time and money. I have the time. You have the money.” Her list of new trees, shrubs and plants would bankrupt most gardeners. Nevertheless, Browning’s story of rebuilding the garden after the back retaining wall collapses, her struggles with varmints, the death of the hemlocks, saving an ancient oak, and battles with her neighbors are all told with wonderful whimsy. The plants and trees take on a life of their own: “Azalea is patient...a sassafras sprout is frantic.”
Browning explains in her prologue that this is not meant to be your usual gardening book, but rather a “tale of how the garden feels, or said another way, how the garden makes me, and those who visit, feel.”Paths of Desire provides pleasant and amusing diversion as readers follow Browning along the path she traveled to achieve happiness in her garden created from memories of the past.
— Joan Richards, library volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden
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