Eden on Their Minds

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Author: Starr OcKenga
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What distinguishes a great garden from one that is merely beautiful? In her triumphant follow-up to the award-winning Earth on Her Hands, Starr Ockenga illustrates how a diverse group of visionary American plantsmen and women have taken risks, pushed boundaries, and stretched traditions to create distinctive, idiosyncratic gardens. Boldly conceived and boldly executed, these 21 gardens are highly personal interpretations of paradise. Each of the gardens bears the indelible stamp of the individual. Paul Held's Connecticut garden reflects his passion for the Japanese Sakurasoh, a variety of primula he propagates from seed. Marlyn Sachtjen's Wisconsin property is a sanctuary for the magnificent trees she has termed "majesties." In his Illinois garden, Justin Harper collects and propagates rare conifers, and in a New York penthouse Mark Bramble's obsession is orchids. Artists such as Sarah Draney in upstate New York and Marcia Donahue in northern California have conceived landscapes that serve as the ideal settings for their own works, while Richard Reames forms living trees into unique arborsculpture in Oregon. William Woys Weaver and husband-wife team Karen Strohbeen and Bill Luchsinger use their Pennsylvania and Iowa gardens as laboratories for ongoing experimentation in heirloom vegetable cultivation and ambitious perennial gardening. From the making of welcoming garden rooms densely planted with exotic flowers and foliage to sprawling landscapes featuring drifts of native plants in their natural habitats, these gardens represent a personal vision of Eden for each of their creators. Intimate portraits of the gardeners themselves and invaluable lists of the plants and techniques these innovators have devised over years and decades of gardening make this a useful and memorable addition to any gardener's library.

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