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The diary of a visionary

August 30, 2007|Bettijane Levine

The Gin & Tonic Gardener

Confessions of a Reformed Compulsive Gardener

Janice Wells

Key Porter Books, $16.95

This is a garden memoir, a cozy little rumination on the pleasures of making a garden grow (or not). Because the author lives in St. Johns, Newfoundland, there are no tips for Californians on what to plant or when. It's not meant as a how-to book in any event, Wells says. What she writes about is attitude, not just toward gardens, but toward life. A divorced mother of two, she's come to the conclusion that perfection, botanical or otherwise, is not the goal. Enjoyment is. Endurance is.

Descended from a long line of master gardeners on her mother's side, Wells earns her living writing books and newspaper columns on gardening. Yet this diary is packed with visions unfulfilled, blooms dreamed about but not achieved. It doesn't matter, she writes. A garden is an experiment, an ode to individuality and ease. It must be enjoyed in all the moments of its planning and planting, in the fantasy that may never fully come to pass.

Wells documents her days as she collects cuttings, and seeds, and grows her favorite local flora as she sips gin and tonic in a hammock placed strategically to view the garden that is not yet quite there. Hers will be a hearty, no-fuss garden, filled with memories of pleasant moments, and trustworthy varieties of flowers.

-- Bettijane Levine

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