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A Rage for Rock Gardening: The Story of Reginald Farrer, Gardener, Writer & Plant Collector Hardcover – November 24, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 11 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When it was published in the U.K. in 2002, this slim volume earned considerable praise from both garden writers and literary critics. That's fitting, because while Farrer (1880– 1920) virtually invented rock gardening as it is now practiced and revolutionized garden writing, his ambition was to be a "literary figure." His novels ranged from "entirely mortal" (The House of Shadows) to "dreadful" (Through the Ivory Gate), but represented what he thought of as his higher calling. Journalist Schulman's biography puts Farrer's highly successful horticultural activities in the context of his frustrated grander aspirations. It is a balanced portrait of a brilliant but "touchy, reproachful, extremely demanding, painfully solipsistic" man, told succinctly and tastefully. Farrer's relationship with his rigidly Christian parents was poor and became abysmal when he converted to Buddhism. Letters to his Oxford classmate Aubrey Herbert strongly suggest a homosexual orientation. Schulman presents this information simply and directly; it's relevant but not central to the story. What is central is Farrer's talent for observing, growing, describing, cataloguing and discovering alpine plants. He literally traveled to the ends of the earth to find new ones, braving hardship and danger on expeditions to China, Tibet and, finally, Burma, where he died. With this brief work, Schulman reveals a brilliant, charming and idiosyncratic character. Illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

There are men who, by virtue of their circumstances and personality, become perfectly suited for the mission that will become their life's work. So it was for Farrer, a physically disfigured, socially inept misfit who, at an early age, discovered a love of rock gardening and a passion for alpine plants. Although he would overcome his physical limitations, eventually venturing to uncharted regions of China and Tibet on plant-collecting expeditions, he longed to be a novelist. While success in that milieu eluded him, his literary flourishes found an outlet when he began writing lyrically about his gardens. Indeed, Farrer's almost anthropomorphic attitude toward his beloved alpines was expressed in such intimate and individual terms that Farrer is credited with ushering in the intensely personal and eminently readable style of garden writing that would forever change the nature of the craft. Portraying Farrer as a difficult and determined, influential and intrepid plant collector, gardener, and writer, Shulman's succinct and incisive biography brilliantly illuminates one of modern horticulture's founding fathers. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ David R. Godine, Publisher; Rev Exp edition (November 24, 2004)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 119 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 156792249X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1567922493
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8.8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.32 x 0.61 x 7.74 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.0 out of 5 stars 11 ratings

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4.0 out of 5 stars
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2.0 out of 5 stars Strong smell of damp
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