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She may have dirt under her fingernails, but New York Times gardening columnist Raver writes with the pen of an angel. In prose marked by eloquence, humor and generosity of spirit, she opens her garden‘and her heart‘and invites readers to share her enthusiasms and knowledge. The 58 essays here, her first collection, cover such subjects as earthworms, cricket manure and Latin nomenclature; push mowers and the virtues of humble peas (whose habit of enriching the soil with nitrogen makes them ``like the perfect house guests‘who always leave gifts after their stay''). Often hilarious, as in the discourse on an unguent created for cows' udders that doubles handily as a face cream, her reflections become poignant when matters of the garden lead to musings on such larger life issues as a parent's aging or the loss of a beloved pet. Although Raver's garden writing is both informed and practical, it's her glorious digressions that readers will most relish‘her passion for the obsession called gardening‘and the opportunity to visit over the back fence with a kindred spirit. (May)
In this collection of brief essays on nature, life, and occasionally gardening, the garden columnist of the New York Times ranges widely, musing on the life of the sea turtle and the dangers of chemical pest control, how weeding the vegetable patch can lead to planning a rose arbor, and the satisfaction of mowing a lawn with a hand mower. Many essays are autobiographical, ranging in setting from Long Island to Brooklyn to the family farm in Maryland as Raver explores the challenge of gardening wherever she lives with her dog, Molly, and her cat, Mrs. Grey. Raver is at her best when she describes how, against her principles, she used chemical sprays on her father's roses in order to bring blooms to his hospital bedside. For all whose minds roam while they are on their knees in the garden.-Molly Newling, Piscataway P.L., N.J.