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Armchair Gardener #2: Charles Dudley Warner

Listen to Ketzel talk about Armchair Gardening The series continues as Ketzel talks with writers Michael Pollan and Allan Gurganus about a little-known 19th century author who reinvented American garden writing.

My Summer in a Garden
"The bean is a graceful, confiding, engaging vine," wrote Charles Dudley Warner, in his 1871 book, My Summer in a Garden, "but you can never put beans into poetry, nor into the highest sort of prose." Maybe not, but you should see what this guy does with lettuce. You can almost hear him bite into a head of iceberg, his writing is so crisp, unembellished and precise.

Which is not to say that Warner's essays, recently re-issued by Random House as part of the Modern Library Gardening series, are simply nice. When the subjects addressed happen to be Chinese, Native American or Jewish, nothing could be further from the truth. But as series editor Michael Pollan points out, My Summer in a Garden reads like a conversation over Warner's back fence; taken as gossip, his decidedly non-P.C. opinions become slightly more palatable in the context of their place, class and time.

In truth, the objectionable sentences in My Summer in a Garden add up to less than a page. What remains are wholly delicious essays on everything from beets and succotash to the neighborhood's incorrigible kids.

More about Charles Dudley Warner:

Charles Dudley Warner's Writings: An extensive listing of his work in the University of Maryland's Electronic Reading Room.

Armchair Gardener Series:

Armchair Gardener 1#1: Let Them Read Books!
Morning Edition, January 4, 2002 The first part of a series for gardeners trying to weather the winter months without access to their favorite pastime. Ketzel stops by a Portland, Oregon, bookstore that's packed with gardening books... and brings several plant-lovers along.

Listen to Armchair Gardener #3Armchair Gardener #3: A Walk Through a Tasmanian Garden
Morning Edition, February 15, 2002
Ketzel takes us on a tour of a three-acre garden on the Australian island state of Tasmania. The catch is, she never leaves home.

Listen to Armchair Gardener #4Armchair Gardener #4: Winter Gardener Confessions
Morning Edition, February 22, 2002
In this fourth and final piece in Ketzel's series, The Armchair Gardener, Morning Edition listeners confess to the extreme measures they've taken to get their favorite plants through winter.

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