A Beautiful Garden, and a book that successfully conveys the process of how to create one, rely on a gardener’s capacity to discover how things grow and a writer’s ability to explain it. A love of plants, along with an understanding of their needs, peculiarities, and idiosyncrasies, provide the foundation on which all memorable gardens are built and upon which truly useful gardening books depend.
Kim Smith’s passion is her garden, a small and densely-packed quarter acre beside her family’s seaside home in Gloucester, brimming with every species imaginable and some (including apricots) a few might consider unimaginable. Here she has created the framework, a living tapestry of fragrance, foliage, flower and fruit, that establishes the soul of her garden. She is sensitive to the plant’s forms, hues, and horticultural demands, and has, by design, established a succession of blooms and a selection of plant materials that reduce the needs for pesticides and herbicides. Any gardener wrestling with the challenges of blight, bugs, poor soil, limited light, and the vagaries of weather will find in these pages both sound advice and practical solutions – in spades.
But this is, quite deliberately, intended as more than another (and predictable) how-to book. The author is especially and equally interested in the intangibles a garden provides: the moods and ambiance, the butterflies attracted, the harmonious patterns of color, light, and texture. This is as much about how to visualize a garden, as about particular trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, and annuals. Eclectic in its approach, citing poetry and quotations from Eastern and Western sources, it challenges us with an artist’s eye while drawing from down-to-earth practical experience.
Illustrated in full color with the author’s own exquisite drawings, containing twenty-two chapters that illuminate every aspect of garden planning and planting, this book recommends itself to gardeners seeking both sensible guidance and design inspiration.
Oh Garden! is a treasure, and perhaps the best garden gift book of the season. Both dream-like and practical, it captures the gardener’s journey by integrating personal essays, hand’s-on advice, and paintings.
—The Boston Globe
This is a book to dip into and come away refreshed. The author’s own exquisite paintings abound.
…a delight for both the author’s lyrical prose and her exquisite color drawings, but it deserves equal accolades for its array of day-to-day and season-by-season plant-design/how-to knowledge and ideas.
Smith’s writing is lithe and clean and her experiences in conjuring beauty out of her garden in Gloucester make for excellent reading.
—Hawk and Whippoorwill
This book is a joy to read for anyone looking for inspiration for a garden, small or large. Plant lists, plant habits, plant history, plant care, all find space within these pages. The color and the fragrance of the plant’s flower most captivates the author. She chooses certain plants because of their colors, mostly white, and then shades of rose and light blue. A flower’s fragrance welcomes a visitor to the garden during any season.
—Thomas Mickey, The Patriot Ledger
Anyone who gardens along the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to South Carolina will appreciate Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! (David R. Godine, 2009, $35). This book is filled with design ideas and plants that work well in this coastal region, as author and garden designer Kim Smith relates her experiences with her quarter-acre garden in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The first part of the book, “Creating the Framework,” delves into trees, shrubs, and other elements for creating structure in the garden, while the second section addresses how to fill out the framework to create a harmonious living tapestry in your garden.
—Viveka Neveln, The American Gardener