cloth, 224 p., $21.95
If you haven't already delighted listening to Ketzel Levine, aka the Doyenne of Dirt, on National Public Radio, buy this! Ms. Levine's sassy and expert voice entertains while she details her 100 favorite plants. Who cares if her Eden is in Portland and that many of the plants she includes aren't hardy in Midwest gardens (zones are not given although hers is Zone 8). It's hard to resist her plant-choice criteria:
"Given my tendency to anthropomorphize everything, I also chose plants as I might friends, including some that looked cool and some my heart went out to (i.e., ignored and undervalued plants), plus those I found either sexy, profound or irrepressibly optimistic."
Not just fun but instructive, Levine's "facts" include these:
"Epimedium; SOUNDS LIKE: Stop the tedium; WORST ENEMY: Short of pan-frying these woodland lovers, you can't go wrong; BEST ADVICE: Even on evergreen species, cut ratty leaves back to ground in February so you get a better view of the diminutive blossoms."
With their user-friendly size, elegant illustrations and clean design, savor these pages like bonbons. Or as Ketzel Levine encourages, "baptize this book with filthy fingers, and make it your own by maligning me in the margins if you think I've left something out."
— Julie Siegel, Contributing Writer, Landscape Designer and Master Gardener at the Chicago Botanic Garden.