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on March 20, 2017
I must admit, Marianne Willburn's book, Big Dreams, Small Garden, arrived at my door just in the nick of time. My husband and I moved recently, to a house with a tiny (really tiny) yard. The size of the yard doesn't bother me at all. It's a blank slate, one I can plant however I like, and I'm excited to begin. But I've never started from the ground up before, and even to a professional gardener like myself, it's a little daunting. (I might also add that my budget is considerably lower than that of most of my clients!)

Marianne understands that breaking a project down into manageable pieces is key to getting the job done. From the beginning, she encourages you to list your goals and to prioritize them. She emphasizes getting your hands dirty, using reclaimed materials, and planning your garden with maintenance in mind. Such good advice! And Marianne leads by example, telling how she carried home thousands of free bricks to build a wall, and suggesting you contact landscape companies that might need to dump excavated dirt. Her approach to gardening is reality based and grounded in experience. The result is a garden that is personal and priceless.

I know my small garden will look very different from Marianne's (since I get 14 inches of rain per year and she probably gets 44!), but mine will be as dearly beloved as hers is. And that's the whole point of this book. Wherever you garden, you can use the principals so clearly outlined here to create your own, personal, wonderful garden space. I'm grateful to Marianne for showing me how to get started.
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on July 19, 2017
I really liked the practical advice about embracing the garden space one has, visualizing its potential, and working toward beautifying it, rather than living one's life on hold while pining for a lavish estate and a staff of gardeners or some other fanciful dream that may never come to fruition. I liked that she acknowledged having worked through some envy of large expensive gardens before getting to a healthier place of gratitude and acceptance for her own little plot. Well-written and entertaining. I wish it had more pics of before and after gardens, and more pics of gardens from more areas of the country.
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on February 14, 2017
The prologue alone has motivated me! (See photo). This book reminds us that we can create a beautiful yard (landscape) with whatever resources we have. Marianne Willburn challenges our excuses of a lack of experience, knowledge and finances by showing how to achieve the space you always imagined. I especially love the section on hiding the eye sores in your landscaping, like an ugly fence (that we must live with). Bonus - you are sure to chuckle because this author writes with humor.
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on August 7, 2017
I've read it all cover to cover. I like the fact that it is not just a gardening book, but also a story and the connection between life's struggles and the fact that gardening is so calming and re-connects us. I also like the inserts about other people! It's a small world...I've known Jeannie Goforth for probably 20 + years and after my last day working at Mt. Weather, I sat with Paul and Jeannie on their back porch overlooking their little vineyard and drank wine to celebrate! Who would've known about the beauty that was tucked in down just below the high school!! Cool!! Marianne, thanks so much for sharing your life with us!
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on February 15, 2017
A Great Addition for both the novice and seasoned Gardner! This is a really well written and engaging book, that in addition to being very thought provoking, informative (and at times hilarious) contains much information on creating a lovely outdoor space. I appreciated the writer's sharing of her own struggles and her helping the reader to work through some of the internal obstacles, such as perfectionism, that can keep many of us back from creating something new and taking some risks. Loved it, highly recommend.
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on March 18, 2017
Well, I will confess to being a good friend of the author but despite having spent years (more than one can count on fingers and toes) in the garden, I found lots to inspire in this book. Marianne manages to weave autobiographical threads into this text along with many personal encounters that make the story compelling. It's hard not to believe that many people will benefit from reading this book. Her prose is wonderful (that I expected) but the insights are invaluable. Get it, and read it.
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on July 20, 2017
Full of practical advice for gardening in the real world. Contains many case studies and anecdotes to reinforce her point that you can garden in any space.
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on November 9, 2017
wonderful book with great pictures
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on July 29, 2017
Looking forward to reading this in depth over the winter in preparation for next spring.
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on April 13, 2017
     Gardening is not my favorite activity. Oh, I have planted (and sometimes harvested) the occasional radish, and can even distinguish between a dandelion and a daffodil, but I don't have a spirit that yearns for seeds, tilling, compost and the like.
    So, recently when a friend (yes, it was the author) recommended "Big Dreams, Small Garden" to me, I sighed and opened it more as a duty than a pleasure. What a surprise!  Before I knew it, the morning had gone, the coffee was cold and I was completely wrapped up in a different world.
    What struck me most about the book is that its subject is much more than the mechanics of growing plants. M.F.K. Fisher was the best food writer in the twentieth century because she wrote about her food experiences in the context of her whole life. That is what Willburn does with gardening. It is a pleasure to just sit and read.
    It is also instructive, with concrete ideas on planning, budgeting (time, money, and space), enlisting the help of family and friends, and the selecting, planting, and enjoying decorative and edible plants. That "enjoying" is important. The book is divided into four parts: Visualize, Achieve, Maintain, and Enjoy. There is lots of practical advice and examples from local gardens and those further afield. But, of the four parts, the "Enjoy" permeates the text.
    "Cannot people realize how large an income is thrift?" I love that quote from Cicero on the first page of chapter 6 along with the one above the epilogue.
    The book (which is surprisingly substantial) has an abundance of encouraging photos of small gardens. It is marred only by the apparent lack of captions on the photos. But wait! If the reader looks closely enough the captions are, indeed, there under each photo, but printed in an almost invisible color.
    I highly recommend it for already involved gardeners and newbies alike. It's like reading the seed catalogs that arrive in mid-January: I'm all fired up and rarin' to plant something in addition to the radish this year.  Thanks, Marianne.
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