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Beautiful Madness: One Man's Journey Through Other People's Gardensby James Dodson
Synopses & Reviews
During an amazing year of living botanically, 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 New York City); spent time with the Botticelli of Bulbs; attended a rare plant auction of high rollers; sneaked into a Hosta convention; communed with the kindred spirits of Thomas Jefferson and John Bartram; met a man smuggling exotic day lilies; learned the inside poop on ten or twelve of the Western world's most influential gardens; swiped cuttings from a Founding Father's shrubbery; hung out with ten or twelve 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, the birthplace of an estimated one-third of the world?s flowers, where he capped off his year of incalculable learning and 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.
This yeoman's tale of shared horticultural obsession burrows deeply into the story of how Americans became such fanatical gardeners and are today, in fact, at the forefront of what everyone agrees is a new Golden Age of Gardening, an unprecedented growth in gardening's popularity that has — according to a recent Gallop poll — an astonishing eighty percent of adult Americans claiming to be primary hobby gardeners.
"Flower fanatics and perfectionist planters will find much to enjoy in Dodson's recounting of his year spent traveling to various gardens around the world. The author, an amateur gardener whose other books are mostly about golf, travels through the eastern U.S., England and Africa, looking at and learning about flowers and plants. Dodson begins and ends his journey at the Philadelphia Flower Show, where he introduces readers to, among others, Linda and Walt Fisher, a retired couple who force bulbs to grow according to a set schedule so they bloom at precisely the right time for the show. Dodson also takes readers to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's estate, and to his home state of North Carolina, where, in a touching scene, he reconnects with an elderly friend of his late mother. But while Dodson's travels are interesting enough, there isn't a through-line uniting his adventures other than him collecting plants he hopes will grow in his garden in Maine. There are lots of people in the book — so many that it's hard to keep track of them all — but no main characters emerge in Dodson's narrative. While horticulture enthusiasts may delight in Dodson's descriptions of his travails, casual readers may find themselves bored by the descriptions of the plants, places and people he encounters." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Dodson's love of gardening shines through on every page; he leaves the reader with a sense of gardening as an equal-opportunity passion that belongs to all of us regardless of social status or ability." Library Journal
During a year of "living botanically," Dodson goes behind the scenes of the world's two most important garden shows, spends time with the Botticelli of Bulbs, meets a man smuggling exotic day lilies, and hangs out with three of the most accomplished gardening fanatics on earth.
About the Author
James Dodson is the author of Final Rounds, the 1996 bestseller that was named the Golf Book of the Year by the International Network of Golf. He is also the author of The Road to Somewhere, The Dewsweepers, Faithful Travelers, and A Golfer's Life, a collaboration with Arnold Palmer that was a New York Times bestseller. He is a four-time winner of the prestigious Golf Writers of America Award for his column in Golf Magazine, and a recipient of the 1998 Golf Reporter of the Year Award by the International Network of Golf.
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