Stalking the Wild Amaranth: Gardening in the Age of Extinction

Overview

An important horticultural memoir articulating a new landscape art that's both environmentally sensitive and rich in creativity.

Janet Marinelli left her comfortable city garden to join a botanist colleague in search of the rare Seabeach Amaranth?one of our many native species that is in danger of extinction. The result of the ensuing seven-year odyssey, Stalking the Wild Amaranth is a work of science and a work of art. Marinelli tells the story of her discovery that ...

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Overview

An important horticultural memoir articulating a new landscape art that's both environmentally sensitive and rich in creativity.

Janet Marinelli left her comfortable city garden to join a botanist colleague in search of the rare Seabeach Amaranth—one of our many native species that is in danger of extinction. The result of the ensuing seven-year odyssey, Stalking the Wild Amaranth is a work of science and a work of art. Marinelli tells the story of her discovery that contemporary gardening is out of sync with theories evolving on the frontiers of science and philosophy. She also tells of her quest for a new garden art that nurtures a greater richness and variety of earthly life. Inspired by the legacy of Henry David Thoreau, Marinelli bls history, horticulture, erudition, and personal insight into a narrative that ponders the relationship between humankind and nature. She fleshes out a vision for a new, ecologically wise landscape art, disagreeing ultimately with those who insist that growing native plants is the only way to recover our environmental equilibrium. Gardeners, she writes, should be free to experiment, to let our imaginations run wild, to learn how to be the creators of biodiversity as well as the preservers and restorers.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Marinelli Your Natural Home, LJ 9/1/95 explores the connection between modern gardening practices and environmental degradation threatening many native plant species, such as the sea beach amaranth. Her argument that gardeners should do more to protect or reestablish native plant communities on their properties is well taken, but this topic has been described in greater detail in such recent books as Sara Stein's Noah's Garden LJ 4/1/93. Nor is the author a purist, declaring at one point, "I'm convinced of the need for ecological restoration in the home garden...but I don't think people will...be content simply to re-create the plant communities of the past." She suggests instead that gardeners "learn how to be the creators of biodiversity as well as its preservers and restorers." Her approaches include converting front yards from lawn to something resembling native woodlots, growing one's own vegetables, and making compost. Short on specifics, this book works best as a thoughtful though often rambling meditation on ecology and gardening. Recommended for comprehensive gardening collections.Beth Clewis Crim, Prince William P.L., Va.
Booknews
The author left her comfortable city garden to join a botanist colleague in search of the rare seabeach amaranth<-->one of many native species in danger of extinction due to rapid urbanization. The seven-year odyssey led her to conclude that contemporary gardening is out of whack with the most recent scientific and philosophical theories. Disagreeing with those who insist that growing native plants is the be-all and end-all of contemporary horticulture, she argues that gardeners should be free to experiment and to learn how to be creators of biodiversity as well as preservers and restorers. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
A level and elegant introduction to (and history of) natural gardening from Marinelli. Not just the rainforest is in trouble, Marinelli reminds readers. The flora of East Hampton, NY, is in equal peril, as are fully one-third of this country's native plants. Is it possible that gardenersyour everyday, garden-variety gardenerscan have a role shepherding these waifs and wastrels from the brink, perhaps even rescue and restore ancient natural communities? Marinelli thinks so. Her gardens, one in New York City and another on nearby Shelter Island, are organic forms, part of the local ecosystem, evolving from the site and climate, taking their cues from native plants (but not hog-tied to them). In the city she seeks to re-create an echo of the primeval oak forest setting, while on the island it's a meadow/wetland. Her ideal garden would have room for a diversity of species within a variety of habitats: productive and fertile, subtle and refined, celebrating the connection between humans and nature. Marinelli's garden ethic is the product of many sources, which she details in her narrative: a well-rounded discussion of the natives vs. exotics; garden design from ancient Greece to the present; the possibilities and limitations of biodynamic agriculture, French intensive gardening, permaculture, and restoration; aspects of gardens within gardens: Gustav Stickley's pergolas, Frank Lloyd Wright's glass rooms, Zen dry gardens, kitchen and water gardens; as well as the many personalities who have shaped the ever-shifting aesthetic of garden design. She also takes readers on a sweet tour of, and offers an ode to, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, where she works as the director ofpublishing. Marinelli is too adventurous to be a strict nativist, but she also knows where help is needed: "I'm all for planting natives unless there's a good reason not to, since indigenous species have lostand continue to loseso much ground." (22 line drawings)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805044157
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/15/1998
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.64 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Janet Marinelli is the director of publishing at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. She is the author of Your Natural Home and The Naturally Elegant Home. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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