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Montrose: Life in a Garden Hardcover – October 3, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It takes a committed gardener to characterize a year of unseasonable killing frost, brutal summer heat and drought, and a destructive ice storm as "the happiest year of my life." In this chronicle of tasks and events at Montrose, her historic North Carolina home, Goodwin reveals herself to be as dedicated as she is talented. Montrose became widely recognized during the 10 years Goodwin ran a successful nursery business there and she remains known as much for her personal skill and knowledge as for the series of themed gardens she created and tends on its 61 acres. Each chapter covers one month, interspersing closely observed descriptions of the appearance, habit and care of individual plants with anecdotes about the doings of her small staff, her encouraging husband, their friends and visitors, and the cats she considers "perfect garden companions." These genteel conversations reflect Goodwin's charm, erudition and unconventional approach. For example, while most garden writers begin by drawing up detailed plans, Goodwin goes directly to the soil and often trusts nature to take its course. Patterson's illustrations are impeccably wrought and beautifully positioned on the page, underscoring shifts in focus from intimate views of tiny flowers to broad visions of the landscape. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In her introduction, historian Maureen Quilligan deliberately describes her neighbor, Nancy Goodwin, as a practitioner of the art of gardening. And Quilligan is right to acknowledge Goodwin's artistry, for the gardens she has created at Montrose, a nineteenth-century estate in the North Carolina Piedmont, are legendary examples of her dedicated understanding of the ways of the natural world. Goodwin limns a year in her classic garden, recounting month by month the steps she and her husband took, first as caretakers of an already-established and renowned garden, and then the plans they made to make it not only something of their own but also a treasure that would be preserved for posterity. Enlisting the talents of artist Patterson, whose pen-and-ink illustrations of vistas and individual plants communicate the detail and personality of Goodwin's unique gardening talents as accurately as any photograph could, Goodwin has supplied gardeners everywhere with a treasure to behold and a standard to revere. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books; First Edition edition (October 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822336049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822336044
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Bargar on February 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the perfect garden book to curl up with on a cold winter's day, when you can't actually do anything in your own garden except dream. The biggest part of its charm for me is the lovely watercolor/botanical illustrations that are generously scattered throughout; the book itself is beautifully produced, with high quality paper & attractice layout & font.

Nancy Goodwin's writing is in a very simple, narrative style, and while it doesn't quite make the category of great garden writing, it certainly provides a pleasant picture of her amazing accomplishments in the gardens she created at Montrose, in North Carolina. She is remarkable in her ability to note both the minute details of an individual plant's growth and habit and the broad, sweeping overall design of a very complex estate.

This book would make an excellent gift for literate gardeners. Note that it is not a how-to gardening book - no directions for creating your own garden paradise - although there is certainly wisdom to be gleaned as Goodwin takes you through a year in her Southern garden. No glossy photos either, just the far more artistic and soothing softly done sketches & watercolors of individual plants.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Betsy Holloway on September 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Nancy Goodwin's name is well known in gardening circles throughout the United States. Some thirty years ago, she and her husband Craufurd Goodwin bought Montrose, a 60-acre historic property in Hillsborough, North Carolina; and since that time they have devoted their efforts primarily to creating and nurturing a garden that covers almost the entire acreage. For about ten years they ran a nursery; but this became a victim of its own success in that its ever-increasing demands took too much time away from Ms. Goodwin's gardening. (She gave up teaching music for the same reason, although she keeps a harpsichord for those times when she wishes to play.)

Montrose presents, in loving detail, the details and demands of the Goodwins' gardening year. Ms. Goodwin's knowledge of plants is encyclopedic, and her text is enhanced by Ippy Patterson's graceful, delicate artwork. Any dedicated gardener, especially one in Zone 7, would cherish the book, not only as a work of art but as a comprehensive guide to plants in that region.

The Goodwins have arranged for the Garden Conservancy to preserve and care for Montrose when they are no longer able to do so. In the meantime, Montrose offers a loving, graceful blueprint of their gardening year; and Ms. Goodwin is living her dream.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ginger Dawn Harman on June 8, 2015
Format: Hardcover
There is something about growing a garden that just fills my heart with joy. Gardening can be a great way to de-stress and relax. Moreover, it allows you to connect with nature and yourself. This past week, I read “Montrose: Life in a Garden” by Nancy Goodwin. It is written as a biography documenting Nancy Goodwin's sixty acres historic property/gardens located in Hillsborough, North Carolina. I liked her simple and mindful way of describing how and why each garden was developed. This book was recommended to me by Mary Jane's Farm girl Sisterhood. Beautifully written and illustrated, Nancy captures your attention and inspired me to plant my own paradise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Loyce C. Mckenzie on December 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I visited Montrose at a time when Nancy Goodwin was writing the book.
She's great, the garden is great,and the book captured the true essence of the garden and the author's
spirit and wide range of knowledge.
And the drawings were the perfect complement.

Actually, this is the third purchase I've made of this book, the last two for gifts.

I received my copy, right off the press, one winter when I was couch-bound with a broken ankle and
could not sleep very well. I read it through four times in a row.
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