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Gardening the Amana Way

Lawrence L. Rettig
University of Iowa Press
Publication Date: 

Paper, 121 pp., $27.50.

Rettig, a child of parents who were part of the communal life of the Amana Society, pays homage to the Amana gardening tradition with roots in Europe. When immigration brought settlers to Iowa with its fertile soil and water from a nearby river, several Amana colonies merged and their fertile soil and neat gardens brought visitors. Vegetables were planted at first, with potatoes and onions as cash crops; gradually women added flowers to their front yards, although these were deemed frivolous by some. Today the neat homes and floral gardens welcome a million visitors each year, becoming Iowa’s top tourist attraction.
This book has something for everyone, with a plant list, gardener’s almanac, and even recipes. Rettig’s pride in the Amana colonies is apparent. This book provides a welcome alternative for tourists to craft shops and restaurants, a view of everyday life in these fascinating communities.
— Adele Kleine, volunteer and garden writer, Chicago Botanic Garden