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Gardening by Heart: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Garden (Sierra Club Books Publication) Hardcover – April 25, 2000

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Gardens are places where we can witness in hushed amazement the beauty of a hummingbird in flight. McGreevy writes for all who are grateful for such encounters, and for others who may wish to be reminded that those magical moments occur. In essays that reflect on her own life experiences, McGreevy affirms that sacred elements can and do exist in unlikely places, too. Her inspirational reminiscences urge readers to behold the wonders of the natural world, both grand and small. Projects to heighten awareness, and recipes that celebrate the harvesting of vegetables and herbs, commingle with her musings. Whether encouraging readers to gaze on weeds from a new perspective or reflecting on the link between the rain forest and eating a hamburger, McGreevy contemplates the connectedness of all living things. Alice Joyce
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Joyce McGreevy is a writer of creative nonfiction and a longtime gardener. A journalist and poet, she has also written a children's book and was publicist for The Western Stage, a nationally recognized theatre company in Salinas, California. She lives in Monterey County, California.


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Product Details

  • Series: Sierra Club Books Publication
  • Hardcover: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books (April 25, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578050510
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578050512
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,038,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mom de Plume on May 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Steal some moments from your hectic day and let Joyce McGreevy entertain you. You might want to steal more than a few because once you start this book you will not want to be interrupted.
This is a story book of life inspired by her Mother's death and her Mother's garden. And, her Mother must have been a remarkable woman. She certainly seemed to know how to enjoy and transfer, if even subtly, her love of plants.
Now, a gardener herself, Ms. McGreevy shares the wonders of gardening with both practical ideas and anecdotal musings. Her book contains a smattering of recipes and practical tips all peppered with her miraculous insight.  To quote her quoting her Mother, "Life is like a party. It starts before you arrive and keeps on going after you leave, so you might as well celebrate while you are here."
She may call herself The Potato Queen (you will have to read why for yourself), but Joyce is really the queen of her 'party'. Hopefully, after you read her book you will feel like the queen (or the king) of your 'party' too.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on July 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My mother said you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but in this case you can. The assortment of beautiful hybrid sunflowers on the jacket of "Gardening by Heart" speaks volumes.
The jacket says the book is a cornucopia of practical garden tips, and I would agree. This is a rich assortment of nuggets of truth, anecdotes of wisdom, and images of joy.
Author McGreevy is a transplant from Ireland who lives and works in sunny Monterrey California. Her insights into the heart of gardening reflect the reasons for living.
Picture a young girl, naked sitting on a fence in winter singing to the snowflakes. Or a woman up at dawn sampling strawberries at 5:00 a.m. Later in the day the author will fret about schedules and such, but in the quiet morning air all's right with the world.
Ms. McGreevy has suggestions for making the world a little bit better place for yourself: savor the descriptive passages in books; learn the names of five native wild flowers; write your observations of the seasons on the kitchen calendar; come to your senses. How long has it been since you stopped to smell the roses?
The most striking passage for me was Ms McGreevy's thoughts on perfectus negativis. This occurs when you cannot see the beauty in your own garden. Others pick out and admire something, but all you can see is the bare patch or the weed at twenty paces. Ms. McGreevy says you should see the bare patch as the bit of unworked canvas in your painting, and instead of noticing the clover in the petunias, notice the petunias.
I have a beautiful garden. Folks admire it everyday. Sunday, the police came to our house in response to a call my husband made about a radio stolen Saturday night from his car.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on August 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed reading "Gardening by Heart" by Joyce McGreevy.A lovely A lovely gentle sense of humour runs through it.The authors command of language and her imaginative writimg is impressive. Of course Im not surprised really,having read, several years ago, her hauntingly beautiful poem "These needles through our own lives, too, have moved." Its a book for all seasions, entertaining,humorous, informative. I have always loved gardening, especially the cultivation of roses, but if I had never gardened before I feel that I would be absolutely compelled to "have a go" after reading this lovely book. All the chapters are entertaining but I especially liked the wonderfully descriptive and inspiring prose of "Sacred Gardens are Everywhere". In "Eating, Sleeping and Living in the Garden" we get wistful, nostalgic recollections plus some mouth watering recipes. However I think Ill skip the "Iced Tea" recipe. I tried it once in Concord, New Hampshire many years ago and found that it was not for me! In "Strawberries at Dawn" we get wonderful imagery - "Ones mind is fertile with dreams whose meanings flower best in a hushed world." However I think my favourite is "Its all Rented". Of course I may be biased - its about Galway! But no, really I just love the mischievous humour. In short the book is full of wit and humour and a joy to read. I would also like to commend "Sierra Club Books" for a beautifully produced product. Sean Stafford, Galway, Ireland.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Sherry on August 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a treasure. With wit and humor, with sensitivity and moving candidness, McGreevy shares her thoughts and experiences with all of us. Reading this book, one quickly feels that one is in conversation with an old and much loved friend. Though I have long recognized my personal joyful connection to "puttering with flowers," this book renewed my passion. McGreevy's love of Nature and ability to find it everywhere, even in the weed growing from the sidewalk crack, is an inspiring reminder to treasure the small gifts of everyday life. This is a book to read, then dip into again and again for laughter and insight. McGreevy is as charming and gracious in person as in her writing. If you get a chance to catch one of her readings, don't miss her!
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