We love the books below and pull them off the bookshelf all the time. There are two non-reference books. Elizabeth and her German Garden is our favorite gardening memoir. Who wouldn't love to read about a woman who calls her husband the Man of Wrath and her children the little mosquitos? Elizabeth von Armin was plopped down in Prussia when only servants mucked about in the garden and her frustration is acerbicly described along with her favorite roses. Down the Garden Path is an entertaining story of an inadvertent gardener. Although the setting is 1930s England, the experience of Mr. Nichols is recognized by anyone who ever stared at a jumble of plants surrounding a house and wondered what to do.
Our first book selection, Pomegranate Roads: A Soviet Botanist's Exile from Eden, is authored by Gregory Levin, a remarkable man who is a fusion of Indiana Jones, Charles Darwin and E.H. Wilson. Mr. Levin dug trenches in Leningrad during World War II, explored remote areas of Central Asia and the Caucasus for pomegranates while coming into contact with dancing vipers and ancient cave paintings, and saved over a thousand varieties of ancient pomegranates before the collapse of the USSR. Mr. Levin's description of butterflies landing on a pomegranate to die is the most moving commentary on mortality ever written. As for his fascination with pomegranates, he writes, "I was fortunate to have met the pomegranate early in life, to have been attuned to its energy, and to have my thoughts and deeds dedicated to it for many years." We are thrilled to offer one of the top cultivars from Mr. Levin's Turkmenistan collection, 'Desertnyi.'
For those seeking a new way with vegetables, the Chez Panisse cookbook is for you. Take it to your local farmer's market or your kitchen garden for inspiration. The recipe for eggplant, basil and tomato pasta is a revelation every time we make this simple dish.