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Uprooted by Page Dickey – Book review

Read about lessons on starting over from one of America’s best-known garden writers, whose move to a new garden brought a renewed relationship with nature. Reviewed by garden designer and writer; Tania Compton.

Uprooted: A Gardener Reflects On Beginning Again
by Page Dickey 
Timber Press, £21.99
ISBN 978-1604699579

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Uprooted: A Gardener Reflects on Beginning Again by Page Dickey is essential reading for any gardener looking for inspiration and encouragement be they embarking on a new project or just reminding themselves of the art and process of garden making.

The book charts the triumphs and occasional travails of starting from scratch in your seventies, or, in the case of Page’s husband Bosco, whose presence is fondly felt throughout, in your eighties. Instead of heading south for the sun they opted for New England with a garden around the house that they can manage with minimal help, surrounded by meadow pastures and woods.

‘In the years I have left I simply want to savor the outdoors and garden for the joy of it’. A joy that is liberally imparted to the reader. From seed sowing to woodland ecology, Dickey distills a lifetime’s knowledge and observation into this masterpiece of garden and nature writing. It doesn’t matter if your garden isn’t in the climactic equivalent of USDA hardiness zone 5, Dickey deftly weaves anecdotes with precise recipes for the best way to garden in any climate. This is a book liberally yet lightly laced with universal horticultural truths. Thanks to Dickey I can now discern between Athyriumand Dyopteris ferns and will never forget that ‘sedges have edges’ as a way of distinguishing them from grasses.

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Any of us feeling complacent about making changes or weary but hesitant about a big leap forward in our gardens can take heart from Page and Bosco’s bravery at grasping more than the nettle and heed an old maxim Dickey shares preaching patience toward newly planted shrubs or perennials: ‘Sleep, creep, leap.’ Ngoc Minh Ngo’s glorious photography is  a mirror to Dickey’s prose. Practical and poetic this paean to nature is an epicurean adventure of a horticultural life well lived.