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Oh, my aching muscles...

Encouragement and inspiration for gardeners

By Ann Lovejoy

Published by Sasquatch Books, Seattle

1998 ISBN 1-57061-139-4

Writing by Ann Lovejoy is, as always, a pleasure to read.

In her first new collection of essays since "The Border in Bloom" (Sasquatch, 1990), Lovejoy writes about "the art, philosophy, work and pleasure of gardening." So say her publishers, Sasquatch Books, of the newest release, "The Garden in Bloom: Plants & Wisdom for the Year-Round Gardener in the Pacific Northwest."

About the now-legendary Northwest garden inspiration, freelance writer Brenda Bell once noted, "Her knowledge and enthusiasm for gardening is infectious, expressed in lyrical, deft prose. And she's prolific."

She certainly is.

In 276 pages in this year's perennial, local bestseller, Lovejoy again tackles the seasons of gardening, the constant joy and change that is the garden, and the wonders of life interposed and as seen through the life of the garden. Like some of its predecessors, chapters of "The Garden" are specifically dedicated to times of the year.

With enchanting prose, Lovejoy takes the reader on a family visit to the local nursery ("... family trips can brighten those interminable days when the skies seemed determined to empty themselves on our gardens," p. 9); through a garden move ("I felt fiercely protective toward the wonderful plants that would be left behind," p. 126); and ends just after the homey tale of being happily burdened with three uniquely different trees for Christmas (p. 258-260).

Strangely, the book ends on a sad note–a short sentiment called "The Gift of Light," in which she recommends "a personal sunbeam" for those affected with seasonal affective disorder, or the simple sadness that comes from lack of sunlight. The specialty lamps will offer a lift to downtrodden house plants as well, she says with encouragement.

As Seattle's Indoor Sun Shoppe is referenced in these final pages, Lovejoy makes a point of letting her readers know where to go for ideas and supplies. Her chapters are interspersed with tidbit-size "resources," which also break up the monotony of page after page of verse (unlike most garden texts, there are no pictures in this book).

"The Garden" marks Lovejoy's 10th publishing accomplishment: Until now, the most recent was "Cascadia: Inspired Gardening in the Pacific Northwest" (1997). Don't be fooled by that title: All of Lovejoy's recommendations are "inspired."

She is often recognized for her abilities as a writer and gardener. She is an American Horticultural Society Writing Award winner; she is a garden columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; and longtime fans will remember her previous days at the Seattle Weekly. Also, her articles have appeared in House & Garden, Western Living and others. She has been a contributing editor for Horticulture magazine, and she often lectures on the national circuit.

Of course, read anything anywhere about Seattle gardening authority Ann Lovejoy and you'll hear that old familiar tale of how Sunset Magazine editor Steve Lorton "discovered" her on Seattle's Capitol Hill on a sunny day in June a decade ago.

Lovejoy writes about it herself in her new book's introduction, where she talks about "what it means to be a business," and how the smallest word of encouragement can give just the right push to the already creative and talented artist.

She herself is certainly one of those healing artists, who has turned around and provided an ongoing inspiration for so many others. As this newest collection shows us, that doorstep visit so long ago has led to years of enjoyment for readers and gardeners in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

NWGN archive published April 1998

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