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The word on the street

3 New England publishers win top awards from American Horticultural Society

Graham Haber

A watercolor by Childe Hassam illustrates “An Island Garden” by Celia Thaxter, published in 1895, that appears in “Writing the Garden.’’

Three New England publishers have won top honors from the American Horticultural Society for books by a garden historian and two highly productive gardeners in the upper reaches of North America.

The society recently selected the three books for its list of the five best in gardening for 2011.

Continue reading below

One of the society’s judges said “The Holistic Orchard’’ (Chelsea Green) by Michael Phillips is “like spending a weekend with the guru of organic orcharding.’’ Phillips grows about 80 kinds of apples on Heartsong Farm in Groveton, N.H. In the introduction, Phillips lays out his challenge, addressing his readers: “You need to know just enough to get launched into the growing of healthy fruit, but not feel so overwhelmed that you never begin.’’

“The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener’’ (Storey) by Niki Jabbour, who lives near Halifax, Nova Scotia, was praised by a society judge for its “infectious enthusiasm.’’ Jabbour ticks off the pleasures of gardening beyond the normal growing season: “You don’t have to water, fight bugs (okay, maybe I find an occasional slug hiding in the cold frames in late autumn), or weed.’’

For the dreamers who may never dirty their hands in the soil, the best reading choice may be “Writing the Garden: A Literary Conversation Across Two Centuries’’ (Godine) by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers. She writes, “In the same way that you don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy a good description of a Yankees-Red Sox game by a sportswriter like Roger Angell or to be a chef to savor the spice in the books of a food writer like M.F.K. Fisher, you don’t have to be a gardener to appreciate the knowledge, enthusiasm, and wit with which certain garden writers achieve a creative and fruitful liaison between words and nature.’’ She devotes each of 12 chapters to a particular species of gardener and garden writing, including travelers (Edith Wharton), correspondents (Thomas Jefferson), and philosophers (Henry David Thoreau).

Grand opening

Taking a cue from a bookstore in Australia, Newtonville Books has created a conversation piece for its new home in Newton Centre. The front counter is built out of about 700 books, glued, stapled, and held together inside a wood frame. Most of the books are signed first editions owners Jaime Clarke and Mary Cotton inherited from the shop’s previous owner, Tim Huggins. Two additional sets of signed first editions were donated to the rare books library at Boston University and the Center for Fiction in Manhattan.

Some of the authors of those signed books will be on hand for the store’s grand opening party at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The guest list includes novelists Anita Diamant and Tom Perrotta, short story writer Amy Hempel, and New Yorker staff writer Dr. Atul Gawande. The store is now open at 10 Langley Road near Walgreens.

Coming out

■“Summer of ’68: The Season That Changed Baseball - and America - Forever’’ by Tim Wendel (Da Capo)

■“The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future’’ by Victor Cha (Ecco)

■“Spiritual Solutions: Answers to Life’s Greatest Challenges’’ by Deepak Chopra (Harmony)

Pick of the week

Anita Silvey, creator of the Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac website, recommends “The One and Only Ivan’’ by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins): “This favorite of 10- to 14-year-olds presents a first-person narrative by Ivan, a gorilla kept in a shopping mall pen for over 20 years. Through his love of creating art, he finds a way to move himself and his fellow creatures to a better place.’’

Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter @JanLGardner.
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