Gardening is something I have dabbled in—flowers and vegetables. But it’s not a passion. I don’t have a garden now. When I was in Mexico my sister paid a gardener; though on occasion I pitched in where needed. I drove by my old house in Tahoe where I had paid for new front landscaping a few years before I sold the property. Two things I loved most about it were the spiral herb garden and the flowers that were planted to attract butterflies and humming birds. All of that landscaping had been dug up. I was heartbroken to see bare dirt.

Reading “Out in the Garden: Growing a Beautiful Life” (HarperCollins, 2002) by Dean Riddle helped get me out of the funk I had about my former front garden.

This is the story of Riddle’s evolution in the gardening business. The focus is his own garden, the humble beginnings, experiments with plants and pots, and how this garden is an extension of him.

For those who garden, there is a ton of advice. But this can’t be described as a how-to book, even though Riddle tells you how to do plenty of things. For the non-gardener, this is a story of life with a garden as a focal point.

Riddle is a storyteller, which makes the book poignant and worth picking up day after day. It’s a story of how his family and friends connected to his garden, thus creating an even more complex, emotional attachment to that living oasis outside his home.

This book was a perfect read while we were all supposed to be sheltering in place. It was a reminder of the work involved in tending to a garden, the satisfaction that comes from toiling in the soil, and the reminder a garden can be a place to meditate alone or share with others.

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