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Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden (Modern Library Gardening) Paperback – February 19, 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Modern Library expands its scope into gardening with these two titles. Published in 1981, Perenyi's text offers a collection of essays on topics from annuals to wild flowers and everything in between. The practical information is laced with anecdotes and historical tidbits about gardens and gardeners. Reaching back to 1871, Warner's volume also offers helpful advice along with much humor and even drama as he uses plant life to draw lessons for daily living. A nice break from the straightforward how-to books.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“You do not have to be a good gardener to fall in love with Green Thoughts. It reads with the intrepid assurance of a classic.” —Mary McCarthy, The New York Review of Books

“Unlike any other gardening book I know, with its Old World charm, its down-to-earth practicality, its whimsy and sophistication.” —Brooke Astor, The New York Times Book Review

“One of those dangerous reference works that you reach for at a moment of horticultural crisis or indecision only to find yourself an hour later browsing far beyond the page where you began.” —The New Yorker
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Gardening
  • Paperback: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (February 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037575945X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375759451
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Although I have not gardened in years and have no plans to start now, I have been enchanted by "Green Thoughts." Ms. Perenyi's writing is crisp, intelligent, and witty. Anyone who can take such non-riveting subjects as worms, mulch, and compost (to name a few) and turn them into elegant, fascinating essays deserves some sort of prize. If E.B. White had written a gardening book, it would probably resemble this one. A real treat.
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Format: Paperback
I must have blinked when this book went out of print; I've had a stockpile of copies for years to give to deserving friends. Now my children are old enough to have gardens and I NEED Eleanor Perenyi. BRING HER BACK! PLEASE, PLEASE! This is the best book for gardeners ever written.
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Format: Paperback
If you love amateur gardening and you love food, you have to love this book. Perenyi is informed, witty and timeless and she writes like a dream. She is way up there with one of my other all-time favorites, MFK Fisher. I've given this book as a gift at least a dozen times and now that I want to again, I find that it's out of print. What a travesty. Bring it back!
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By A Customer on September 10, 1997
Format: Paperback
The best garden books have to be idiosyncratic, just like the best gardens. Every plot of land has its own quirks, good and bad, and no chart or theory can ever be adequate to the particularities of every corner and every microclimate. Similarly, garden writers are only interesting if they give us a taste of their own particular place and the place of their own peculiar character. There are few more peculiar characters in garden writing than Perenyi. I can't imagine anyone reading her and not finding something to object to, and yet she is no snob. There is room for the gaudiest dahlia in the midst of her sometimes infuriating strictures. But when you finish the book, you feel as if you know her as you know few others, at least in regard to her garden. She is a spectacular crank, and in that crabby, opinionated eccentricity there is the authentic voice of a gardener and an authentic sense of place
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Format: Paperback
What a wonderful experience to spend time with this intelligent, funny, morally secure woman. She's an elegant writer with a wealth of gardening knowledge. Her views on organic gardening, composting, etc. are now widely recognized as correct. Her taste, which she does not hesitate to reveal, is impeccable. One of the best gardening books I've ever read. I hope the years since this book was published have been very kind to Ms. Perenyi and her Stonington, Conn. garden.
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Format: Paperback
Eleanor Perenyi's book GREEN THOUGHTS is a memoir of sorts. She apparently never wrote another book on gardening, but as Alan Lacy says, sooner or later every writer who gardens will write a book about gardening. At the time her book was published in 1981, she had worked in her own garden in New England for a number of years. She says she had been gardening for 30 years, but does not indicate if she is including the years she lived in Hungary her birthplace. She was an immigrant who migrated first to Europe and then to America where she worked in New York as editor of Madamoiselle and lived and gardened in New England. Her detailed observations about gardening are of limited use to those who live and garden elsewhere in the States. However, Perenyi has many wise 'thoughts' that can be acted on in almost any garden, including the advice `don't be overly neat' - something that's taken me a while to appreciate.
Perenyi's book contains many original insights and much information not widely available at the time she wrote her book - such as gardening tips from `Organic Gardening Magazine'. Perenyi wrote only one book on gardening but she is often quoted-the main reason I wanted to read GREEN THOUGHTS. She organized her comments Alpha to Zeta (actually ends with `W' for Woman's Place), which are literally a set of small essays ranging from a paragraph in length to several pages on various topics from hedges and lawns to onions and potatoes.
My favorite essay is "Woman's Place" which appropriately enough covers the history of women in the garden from Eve to Eleanor Perenyi. She reveals the sad truth that women invented horticulture while men were off hunting in packs, only to be thrown out of the garden at a later date when men "took charge" of the fields.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bless, oh, bless Modern Library for bringing this book back into print. When I wrote the review below, it was still unavailable, so I'm delighted by its return. This time, I will be buying several copies to give as presents. One could hardly do better.

Original review:

Eleanor Perenyi is one of those people who can make anything interesting. Knowledgeable, opinionated, at times cranky, her writing is at once delightful and profound. With wit and whimsy, the books skips from the trials and tribulations of trying to find good help to the horticultural explorations of the Spanish conquistadors. The book is a real treat for anyone who loves gardens and words. In fact, I think I'll read it again.

05/29/2009
It is with deep sadness that I report the recent death of Eleanor Perenyi. In Green Thoughts, she has left us a gift we should treasure for all time.
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