Garden Books

Book Review: Garden in Every Sense and Season

Garden in Every Sense and Season

Each season has distinct characteristics. Tovah Martin’s newest book, Garden in Every Sense and Season, (Timber Press, 2018) uses one hundred essays to provide details on plants, animals and the unique beauties of each season.

Martin verbally guides the reader through the seven acre plot surrounding her house and barn in Connecticut. Gardens for annuals, perennials, butterflies, vegetables, and herbs merge into an open field covered with pollinator-enticing plants. A small lake licks the property’s back edge. Within this area, Martin shows that every season is filled with ordinary sources of beauty to see, smell, taste, hear, and touch.

To brighten a gray day this time of the year, began this volume by reading its last section, Winter. Enjoy remembering the surprise of discovering the many animals that track through a snowy yard. Be thrilled not to feel the bitter cold beautifully described in snowy Connecticut. Then take advantage of Martin’s information on bulbs and houseplants that obviously thrive on her window sills. Her description of hyacinth’s and freesia’s scents might be an inspiration to attempt forcing some in a sunny window.

In the section on Spring, Martin lauds the smell of fresh-turned dirt as a brief pleasure before it is submerged beneath floral odors. Suggested tools to lessen the discomfort felt in working the earth and seed sources for unfamiliar colored or scented plants are helpfully included within Martin’s writings.

For summer, Martin urges readers to listen carefully for the buzzes, chirps, and hums emitted from the myriads of pollinators like those attracted to her gardens. Tasty vegetables and berries are deliciously described as part of this warm season’s benefits.

“Each plant comes onstage, presents its colorful skit, and bows out,” is Martin’s succinct description of Autumn. Grasses, pumpkins, asters, seeds, birds, and leaf colors are described as players in this season. In the afterglow of autumn, Martin convinces readers that the variation in the brown colors of late fall are to be appreciated.

Throughout this book, the writing style of Martin is almost poetic. Hidden inside each essay’s lovely language are pieces of sound gardening advice. These snippets of information slip in from knowledge she gained when writing earlier books on houseplants, terrariums, weekend gardening, heirloom flowers, and window boxes. The topics of almost every essay are illustrated with eye-pleasing photographs.

This book would be a wonderful gift for a gardener during any season. Once read, it could be passed on to another green-thumbed friend or kept to study its subtle advice on gardening. Despite voles, cold weather, and the rigors of keeping the plants weeded and trimmed, Martin makes gardening seem a joy, whether actually working in a yard or vicariously planning a sensory year.

Christine Thomson is a Raleigh gardener obsessed with plants. She is a volunteer at the JC Raulston Arboretum and fills her spare time reading books, especially volumes about vegetation.