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Onward and Upward in the Garden

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  119 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Katharine White began working at The New Yorker in 1925, the year of its founding, and was an editor there for thirty-four years, shaping the careers of such writers as John O'Hara, Vladimir Nabokov, and Jean Stafford. Throughout and beyond those years she was also a gardener. In 1958, when her job as editor was coming to a close, White wrote the first of a series of fourt ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 12th 2002 by Beacon Press (first published 1979)
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Community Reviews

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Lobstergirl
Sep 16, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dov Charney
Shelves: own

Be warned, most of this volume is about....seed catalogs. White reviews them as if they were books. Even for someone interested in seeds, botany, and yes, seed catalogs, like me, it's a bit much. She's also writing in the 50s and 60s, so a lot of the cultivars she's talking about have probably gone the way of the dodo.

I can't say the personality that came through the writing was all that attractive. Her writing style is what I consider fussy - "I shall" for "I will," and unnecessarily archaic -
...more
Margaret
Not really a longer review, but more thoughts:
Something as simple and ephemeral as a seed catalog is something that shouldn't be this fascinating, but the essays the Katharine S. White build around them, the world of her garden and her advice, make them that way. Even though the objects are transient, the role they play in gardening and White's own experiences aren't and that's what makes the collection of essays sparkle.

~~~~~~~~~
Longer review when I'm done with travel, but I absolutely love t
...more
Jim
As a gardener myself, in addition to being an avid fan of The New Yorker, this collection of articles (first published in The New Yorker in the late 1950's) is a dream come true. Katharine White, the wife of EB White and a famed editor in her own right, was a reader and collector of gardening catalogs which she poured over from her house in Maine during the snowy wintery housebound months in frozen Brookline. From these cataogs she made her seed and plant lists for the Spring and dreamed of gard ...more
Marguerite
I've never met an opinionated gardener I like more than the late Katharine S. White. The essays in this book shaped me somewhat, to the extent that they helped me accept my own gardening prejudices and limitations. More than anything, though, they helped me to dream, to visualize perfection in my own little piece of sod. I've come close to that mark a couple of times, but not on the shady lot we now call home. This is a book for winter months, the times you'd like nothing better than to sink you ...more
Susan
I skimmed this quickly, enjoying it as I did, despite being only a vicarious gardener.

The Introduction by her widower, E. B. White, added a lot to my reading experience.

These essays evoke a time and a way of living now gone. They also transported me, a lifelong Californian, to a Maine farm.

I found certain essays of particular interest, including those which touched on fragrances of flowers, dwarf fruit trees, and the work ethic (in and out of the garden).

Nicolas Mertens
Not much of gardener myself, living in a small apartment in a major city, many moments of this book gave me such a beautiful Wild Strawberries-esque moments of spending time with my grandmother as a young boy and being hosed off afterwards and ruining my new shoes—O the look on my mother's face! It was with these feelings, I realized the depth of these essays and stories, it was if I was reading Proust or Barthes emotionally, but at the same time the content of what I'm reading is Katharine S Wh ...more
John
Very interesting gardening book, but there are references to either nurseries which are no longer in business and plant varieties which are inferior to what is currently on the market. That is one of the things which happens when you read a gardening book from the 60's and 70's. If you are interested in antique/heirloom varieties, then this has some information for you. Katherine White's enthusiasm shines through. At times I am sure she felt like Sysiphus trying to garden on the coast of Maine. ...more
Diane Webber-thrush
Delightful. I read it more as a memoir of an obsession than anything else. Love her line about "I read in dream" about how she reads gardening and seed catalogs. Three stars because it won't be everyone's cup of tea. But it's a gentle tonic that I really enjoyed. My first book from the NY Review of Books Club -- perfect timing with spring.
Char
This is a delightful critique of seed catalogs written by Katharine White, wife of E.B. White and one time editor of the New Yorker magazine. Each chapter ran as a piece in the New Yorker and the book was compiled by E.B. after Katharine's death.

Katharine's wit is very English, genteel, 50's and I found myself laughing aloud at least once per chapter. This is a book to savor over time. Read a few pages or a chapter when you need a respite, put it down, then come back to enjoy again.
Helen
Collection of pieces written by Katharine White wrote for The New Yorker. In 1958 she wrote the first of a series of fourteen garden pieces that appeared over the next twelve years. Married to E. B. White the intro is written by him. An essential book for gardeners and writers alike.
Marlies
I really enjoyed this, but reading it all at once can be a little dull. It's easy to switch to another read in-between sections of this one.
Carrie
A great book on gardening, and the love of planning your garden, even when the snow is on the ground.
Sheri
I love this book! just the thing for thinking about spring gardening.....
Irene
This a must OWN book for crazy gardeners such as myself.
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Katharine White worked at the New Yorker for more than 35 years. She began as a reader of manuscripts and ended her career there as a valued editor. She never became as well known as her husband, E.B. White, but her influence on the magazine was enormous. To many of her authors (among whom were John Updike, Jean Stafford, Nadine Gordimer, S.N. Behrman) she was a mother figure and a treasured frien ...more
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