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The Roots of My Obsession: Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why They Garden
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The Roots of My Obsession: Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why They Garden [Kindle Edition]

Thomas C. Cooper
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Why do you garden? For fun? Work? Food? The reasons to garden are as unique as the gardener.

The Roots of My Obsession features thirty essays from the most vital voices in gardening. They show that gardening is a passion and obsession that cannot be conquered or abandoned, only indulged. Each gardener tells a compelling story. Whether their muse is the quest to achieve a personal vision of ultimate beauty, a mission to heal the earth, or the attempt to grow a perfect heirloom tomato, the writing is direct, engaging, and from the heart.

For Doug Tallamy, a love of plants is rooted first in a love of animals: "animals with two legs (birds), four legs (box turtles, salamanders, and foxes), six legs (butterflies and beetles), eight legs (spiders), dozens of legs (centipedes), hundreds of legs (millipedes), and even animals with no legs (snakes and pollywogs)." For Rosalind Creasy, it's "not the plant itself; it's how you use it in the garden." And for Sydney Eddison, the reason has changed throughout the years. Now, she "gardens for the moment."

As you read, you may find yourself nodding your head in agreement, or gasping in disbelief. What you're sure to encounter is some of the best writing about the gardener's soul ever to appear. For anyone who cherishes the miracle of bringing forth life from the soil, The Roots of My Obsession is essential inspiration.

Editorial Reviews


This slim book of short essays by 30 top gardeners is as varied as any garden, with something for every taste and style. It’s a bit like getting a letter (or e-mail) from your favorite gardener. The tone is informal, even if the gardener’s style is not. The reader comes to understand the English accent to Sydney Eddison’s gardening, the surprising Turkish heritage of Fergus Garrett, the yummy crunch behind Rosalind Creasy’s edibles. The essays are bite-sized and intelligent; these gardener-writers are both pithy and reflective, as befits people who know truth and beauty, but also need to weed and mulch. This charming, simple book makes a great gift for gardening friends, who can curl up with it on a rainy day and reflect on their own obsession.
(Publishers Weekly)

"After finishing the book, you may even feel a bit better about your own all-consuming horticulture hobby."

(Country Living)

·         “Spellbinding writing and Cardillo’s breathtaking photos entice readers through Culp’s woodland garden. An essential title in the “how I did it” genre of garden writing.” 

(Library Journal)

“A new title that'll stir recognition in gardeners as well as delight them."

(Pacific Northwest Magazine)

"This is a wonderful book because you can leave it by your bed and open it to any short essay and find yourself relating, laughing or learning." 

(Winston-Salem Journal)

About the Author

Thomas Cooper was the editor of Horticulture magazine for 20 years. He also founded and edited The Gardener magazine.

Product Details

  • File Size: 315 KB
  • Print Length: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press (October 2, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #528,456 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasure October 8, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ordered for a friend who is avid gardener. Read it to see how it was & enjoyed it a great deal. Short, interesting chapters
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, amusing wintertime reading for gardeners December 29, 2012
This pithy little book makes for great winter reading. It's a series of essays, each about five pages long, by 30 different gardeners talking about the pivotal moment where they became a real gardener. While I'm sitting indoors this January getting twitchy from wanting to prune and transplant and weed, it's a wonderful thing to be able to revel in that passion by reading about other people's love affair with gardening.

Tovah Martin starts her essay by saying, "To set the record straight, I don't garden of my own free will. I am held hostage. Always have been."

From Margaret Roach: "It is no wonder so much of gardening is done on one's knees: the practice of horticulture is a wildly humbling way to pass the days on earth. Even the root of the word "humility" comes from the Latin humus (for "earth" or "ground"). . . Humbled or no, "gardener" was the label imprinted on me when souls were handed out."

Then, Amy Stewart makes the point that gardening is a verb, not a noun. "A garden is not a thing you can buy or own or ever possibly finish. No, "garden" is something you do. It's an active, fidgety sort of pastime, another way of jingling the loose change in your pocket, except that the pocket happens to be your backyard, and the change is a hellebore, or a cherry tree."

Good stuff, yes? If this book sounds like your kind of thing, then you will almost certainly like it. It's exactly as it is billed. The authors are quirky, spirited, and a lot of fun to spend time with, and the book itself is presented in an attractive paperback format with a little cover flap that makes it look a little extra-special for gift-giving.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gardeners write about what inspires them October 25, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thirty gardeners write about what (or who) inspires them and how they became devoted to gardening. Each essay is about 5-6 pages long. I bought this for my Kindle and enjoyed it very much. The writers include: Tony Avent, Thomas Christopher, Rosalind Creasy, William Cullina, Rick Darke, Page Dickey, Helen Dillon, Ken Druse, Sydney Eddison, Fergus Garrett, Nancy Goodwin, Susan Heeger, Daniel Hinkley, Thomas Hobbs, Penelope Hobhouse, Panayoti Kelaidis, Roy Lancaster, Tovah Martin, Julie Moir Messervy, Stephen Orr, Anna Pavord, Anne Raver, Margaret Roach, Marty Ross, Claire Sawyers, Amy Stewart, Roger Swain, Douglas Tallamy, Richard Turner and David Wheeler.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Garden of Earthly Delights January 18, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This charming little book offers a new vista in our gardens of earthly delights. Here Hieronymous Bosch might have painted 30 figures--well more, if he included such splendid family members as Fergus Garrett's Turkish grandmother whose flowers "were her great love and joy" or Panayoti Kelaidis's rock-garden besotted brother-in-law, Allan.

"The Roots of My Obsession" began when editor Thomas C. Cooper invited some well-known garden writers to reflect on "Why do you garden?" Whatever the original number so invited may have been, he obtained brief (5 to 6 page, probably as long as requested) replies from 30 gardeners.

Some are legendary figures such as the venerable Penelope Hobhouse and the greatly admired Margaret Roach. All are suitably obsessed, some to that point described by the late, great Henry Mitchell, garden writer for the Washington Post, of the understandable madness of a friend who planted hundreds of packages of seeds for a narrow city garden. Mitchell's essays are available elsewhere but the obsessions here are as he described.

Every one of these 30 gardeners writes splendidly, in a unique voice, and every one of them has a fascinating story to tell. One expects such prowess with words as well as plants from the likes, say, of Amy Stewart whose "Wicked Bugs" is a gardening best seller and who has written five books and appeared on hundreds of TV and radio shows, or from Stephen Orr, editorial director for gardening of Martha Stewart Living, whose essay "The Flower Thief" may have you LOL.

That is, these are professionals and it shows!

Most of the writers interpreted "Why do you garden?" as "How did you get so involved to begin with?"--that is, the origins of their vegetable love.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Morning Coffee Book! August 28, 2013
By Dan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This collection of gardening stories is so great! All gardeners will find their own story somewhere in here. From practicality, passion and frivolity the world we gardeners immerse ourselves in is displayed! Definitely to be read more than once.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as advertised March 20, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The great gardeners actually don't explain why they garden, for the most part. Some describe the circumstances in which they began to garden, others talk about favorite plants, but there is little here about the motivations and deeper reasons why people garden.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Rainy Day Reading May 25, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Overall, I enjoyed the essays, but I got the feeling after I finished reading them that they were mostly of a literary nature, and not so much from the grunt and sweat of a gardener's point of view. The essays were varied, from the informative ones (e.g, Roger Swain's essay on fruit trees) to the more lighthearted and somewhat funny pieces. This is a good book for summer reading on those rainy days when gardeners go crazy trying to find something else to do.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Enjoyable book with interesting stories. I can relate to some of them, being a gardener, but most are not about average gardeners. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jody Mandel
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it a lot- my largest complaint is that it's too short!
I just started gardening two years ago and wanted to read about other people's experiences to understand my obsession more. This book was really great for that. Read more
Published 4 months ago by K. Ostrovska
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding anthology
This anthology of personal observations should be required reading for all gardeners. This is a wonderful collection of well written essays.
Published 5 months ago by Ann Harvey
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reader for anyone who enjoys gardens
The stories behind so many gardeners was facinating and comforting. To learn about their personal inspiration and gardening journey was a delight.
Published 11 months ago by Flowjanwest
5.0 out of 5 stars Gardening book
What a wonderful book, I love it! I bought it for friends too, and they like it very much.
Published 12 months ago by carol g.
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiration for all obsessed gardeners!
I haven't finished the book but am enjoying savoring a story or two at a time when I'm looking for a little inspiration for my own gardening obsession. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Carolyn Longwater
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone who gardens!
Of all the books I have read for, about and by gardeners in my many decades of life, I have never read one that has resonanted with me as this book has done. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Bev
5.0 out of 5 stars great!
I ordered for a friends birthday, it arrived the day before, presented to her and she said SHE LOVES IT and it was on her list to gift herself. Read more
Published 15 months ago by yvette
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy and Interesting Reading
Each chapter is written by a different author (ie. gardener) and makes for very interesting reading. The quickest read in a long while. Fun!
Published 16 months ago by AB
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful fireside book for all gardeners and philosophers
After you read it, compose your own feelings about why you garden. You will be amazed at your own answers. A book for cherishing, wish it was longer.
Published 17 months ago by elizabeth spar
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