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A Year in Our Gardens: Letters by Nancy Goodwin and Allen Lacy

A Year in Our Gardens: Letters by Nancy Goodwin and Allen Lacy
Nancy Goodwin and Allen Lacy
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 208 p., $27.50

Fans of Allen Lacy's garden writings will read this book with eagerness. For newcomers to his witty, personal and opinionated writing style, this book will serve as an appropriate introduction.

Throughout 1998, Mr. Lacey and Ms. Goodwin exchanged carefully crafted, seasonally based letters, writing about their plants, the new greenhouse, weather, health problems, local history and music in an interesting and lively exchange. They both take their fame for granted. During the year of letters, she had a visit from Martha Stewart, and he was videotaped for Victory Garden.

While they both live in hardiness zone 7, nothing could be further apart than their gardens. Ms. Goodwin, former proprietor of Montrose Nursery in Hillsborough, North Carolina, gardens on 60 acres of rich, clay loam. Mr. Lacey tends to a 100-by-155-foot plot of suburban, sandy, fast-draining soil in southern New Jersey. She loathes summers for their drought and humidity; he looks forward to peak summer bloom.

In spite of these differences, they share a common interest in unusual plants, worrying about their hardiness and proper nomenclature. If their discussions of cyclamen varieties verge on tedium, it may be because we don't grow them in this region of the country. Nor do we count flowers on Christmas Day, as Ms. Goodwin does. The reader does share their anxieties over freezing temperatures, drought and desire for rain. In fact, a rainy day would be a good chance to read this book!

— Adele Kleine, Master Gardener and Volunteer, Library, Chicago Botanic Garden