Living at the Office

I was tapping away at my computer on a bright summer morning when I first heard, or felt, the sound: a series of distant, muffled explosions, followed by a low rumble that seemed to roll across the ground and rock the foundations of my office. Were I still living in my apartment on upper Broadway,

Building a Room of My Own

I NEEDED A PLACE TO WORK. THAT AT least is the explanation I prepared for anybody who asked about the little building going up, very slowly, in the woods behind my house. I was building a “home office,” an enterprise so respectable that the Government gives you a tax deduction for it. The fact that

Gardening

Along with the seed catalogue, the book lies at the heart of the winter garden. Through its pages the gardener, who has worked more or less in isolation all summer, steps out into the wider gardening world, renewing his acquaintance with other gardeners and returning with a rich store of information—the printed kind, of course,

It’s Not the End After All

No matter how many more—and better—books he may write, Bill McKibben is destined to be remembered for “The End of Nature,” his 1989 bestseller about the greenhouse effect and its effect on, well, Bill McKibben. Written on the heels of the “greenhouse summer” of 1988, when record temperatures first stoked popular concerns about global warming,

How Pot Has Grown

In a rented hall on the outskirts of Central Amsterdam, a couple of hundred American gardeners gathered over a holiday weekend not long ago to compare horticultural notes, swap seeds, debate the merits of various new hybrids and gadgets and, true to their kind, indulge in a bit of boasting about their gardens back home.

This Bud’s For You

MORE THAN A few eyebrows were raised in the world of gardening earlier this year when White Flower Farm, the tony Connecticut nursery, included a selection of annuals in its catalogue for the first time. Anywhere else, an offering of annuals—flowers that germinate, bloom, set seed and die in a single season—would be unremarkable: in

How to Make a Pond

On a Monday morning in August 1883, a volcano erupted on the Pacific island of Krakatau, smothering its flora and fauna under a blanket of sulfurous ash more than 100 feet thick in some places. Krakatau had been literally sterilized; what remained of the island was about as dead as a place on this earth

Against Nativism

THE STRAIGHT LINE IS IN BAD ODOR IN AMERICAN horticulture these days, along with just about anything else that smacks of Old World influence or the hand of man. This was first impressed on me rather violently a couple of years ago, after I published in these pages an account of a disastrous attempt at

The Seed Conspiracy

THIS IS THE SEASON OF THE garden seed, that time of pure promise when the entire contents of a quarter-acre patch of vegetables—the yield of which will burden a small truck come August—can still fit inside an envelope and be sent cross-country by Fed Ex. The seeds themselves betray no sign of the prodigies they

Look Who’s Saving Elm

Without question, the dinkiest plant in my garden these last few seasons has been the American elm tree my father-in-law gave me three years ago. I realize that “dinky” is not a word often attached to elm trees—”graceful” or “venerable” or even, in recent years, “dead” are a lot more like it. But there is