Reader: Pam Page, Scituate
Book Challenge: I have recently been reading "Gardening for a Lifetime" by Sydney Eddison. She writes about how to simplify her gardens now that she is getting older. Also "Notes From Madoo: Making a Garden in the Hamptons" by Robert Dash. I really love the topic of restoring old gardens.
Match Book: I know you're looking for books, but — sorry! — I am going to offer some literary travel advice first. If you haven't already, please go to The Mount in Lenox. The garden was originally designed in 1902. In 1911 Edith Wharton left the property and over many years the estate and gardens fell into disrepair. A $3 million archeological garden restoration was completed in 2005.
You can read about Wharton's gardening philosophy in her book "Italian Villas and Their Gardens" with illustrations by Maxfield Parrish. Then move on to Vivian Russell's "Edith Wharton's Italian Gardens" a gorgeous update, with pictures, which retraces Wharton's steps through Italy. Pick up Wharton's "The House of Mirth" before you visit The Mount. She wrote the novel from her bedroom, which overlooks the gardens.
My angle on other suggestions skews toward writers who are also gardeners rather than gardeners who write. For actual gardening I depend on my mother to help me sort the weeds from the plants just so I don't pull something that might flower or fruit. It turns out that spiky weed will grow pumpkins.
"My Garden" by Jamaica Kincaid is a pretty book about the novelist's garden in Vermont. She also edited a notable gardening anthology called "My Favorite Plant." Next try Michael Pollan's "Second Nature," ecologically-minded gardening essays arranged by season.
To dig deeper (sorry) I turned to the American Horticultural Society's list of 75 Great American Garden Books, which led me to some cool finds at the library. Among useful books about garden pests and shrub diseases I found "Noah's Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Back Yards" by Sara Stein, a book that takes a long view of gardens and a long look at the harm done by suburban gardening.