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Our Life in Gardens

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  142 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
This is the third book we have written together, though separately we have written others . . . But to say ‘written separately' makes no sense, for when two lives have been bent for so many years on one central enterprise—in this case, gardening—there really is no such thing as separately."

With these words, the renowned garden designers Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd begin t
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Matt Mattus
Dec 09, 2009 Matt Mattus rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plant-books
This is the third book by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd that I have read, and as a plant geek and passionate gardener, I always fine these books enjoyable. My bar is high, for any plant book, and few can reach the expectation I have- these guys do. If you are a horticulturist, plant lover, or just someone who dreams of someday living in Vermont, then this book is for you.

If there is any fault, not that this is one, it would be that many of the tales told in this book, are repeated lore from their
Mar 12, 2009 Dorothy rated it it was ok
This book was a gift and I really, really wanted to like it a lot, but in the end, I just couldn't. The book is written by two men who garden in Vermont, and, although there are principles that translate from one garden to another no matter where it is located, I found much of the information in this book so foreign to my experience of gardening in subtropical Southeast Texas that it was really difficult to maintain interest. Many of the plants that they utilize such as lilacs and wisteria are e ...more
Karen Floyd
May 15, 2016 Karen Floyd rated it really liked it
An entertaining memoir, written by Joe Eck and the late Wayne Winterrowd, of their lives together as gardeners, beginning with houseplants and chicks in their Boston apartment and ending some thirty years later at North Hill, their farm and garden in Vermont. They write in a single voice as "we," and discourage readers from attempting to figure out which man wrote what, because it's not really important, and besides, they usually forget and can't tell themselves. I find the idea of raising chick ...more
Apr 16, 2009 Judy rated it it was amazing
This book is a series of beautifully written essays about various garden flowers/plants/trees. I enjoyed the style and the subject matter and I learned quite a few things along the way.
Feb 02, 2009 Sue added it
Garden designers Eck and Winterrowd, co-authors of The Year at North Hill: four seasons in a Vermont garden (Little Brown and Co., 1995) and Living Seasonally: the kitchen and the table at North Hill (Henry Holt and Co., 1999), take us back to their garden, North Hill, in a collection of essays to be savored on cold, snowy winter nights while eagerly waiting for spring. Short essays cover everything from boxwood to primroses to vegetable gardens and allow the authors to share their favorite plan ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Apr 15, 2009 Bookmarks Magazine rated it really liked it
Shelves: may-june-2009

The admiration and genial frustration from critics-cum-amateur gardeners is palpable in the positive reviews of Our Life in Gardens. They take heart from the knowledge that these master gardeners face the same hurdles as most casual horticulturists, but a hint of jealousy creeps through in comments like this from the San Francisco Chronicle: "Eck and Winterrowd don't say how much outside help they have -- a frustrating omission for gardeners who exhaust themselves trying to keep up much smaller

Jose Santos
Jul 23, 2013 Jose Santos rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, gardening, 2013
Reading this book was a great joy! When we finish, it's like having new friends and knowing a garden and its plants even if you have never been to Vermont and the North Hill Gardens. Great gardening book from two gardeners passionate by its garden.

A leitura deste livro deu-me um grande prazer e, quando terminei, foi como se tivesse novos amigos e conhecesse o jardim de North Hill, situado no frio estado de Vermont, nos Estados Unidos. Os autores são definitivamente apaixonados por plantas e jar
Grass_Roots Books and Music
Garden designers Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd may best synthesize all that is essential in gardening, distilling to a perfect blend of personal history and plant practicality in Our Life in Gardens. Sharing thirty years of gardening experience, the partners pass their knowledge and passion on to us privileged readers, just as a neighbor might pass along a beloved plant. And although they garden in Vermont, their horticultural information is perfectly relevant to Pacific Northwest gardeners. Even ...more
Jul 08, 2009 Cerealflakes rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book of gardening essays. The authors have FAR more knowledge than I do, so I didn't know some of the plants they were writing about, but I still enjoyed the book. They are very opinionated and make it very clear whether or not they find a plant worthy of garden space. I found much of the book interesting, but it would certainly not be interesting to someone not fascinated by gardening.
Kathleen Gilroy
Mar 18, 2009 Kathleen Gilroy rated it really liked it
These guys are totally full of themselves but highly amusing and magnificent gardeners. Our Life in Gardens runs alphabetically and covers different types of plants and the history of the North Hill garden through these plants. I recommend this as a follow up to A Year at North Hill -- one of my favorite books about gardens.
Aug 13, 2009 Kate rated it did not like it
This book just irritated me. Try as I might, I couldn't get into it. It felt so staged. I flipped around from one short chapter to the next hoping for some redeeming quality. Alas, I gave up.
Nov 22, 2009 Joyce rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book! Eck & Winterrowd have lived in the same Zone 4 Vermont garden for 30 years. They are more industrious than I, but they give me hope and ideas for my Zone 4, 10-year garden!
Aug 17, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this book in the middle of winter when I longed for the smells of spring in the garden. Also a good reference for the plant species covered in each chapter.
Oct 13, 2009 Francine rated it it was amazing
This was a great read. It read easily, it informed and educated and had humor. The authors did a great job with this; the transition from one writer to the other is seamless!
The Bookloft
Bookseller: Linda

Gardeners never seem to have enough "garden books." Joe and Wayne's should be added to your collection. Not only are there 'how to' tips, but also plant lore with personal experiences - even warm and fuzzy feelings at times! Such green marvels! From their Vermont garden to various horticultural escapades - including cooking - you can't help learning more.
This is a book to enjoy - humor and sensitivity in all things growing.

With the science, humanity and horticulture sense, this
The North Hill Landscape design group is well-known and respected here in New England. Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd's latest book, "Our Life in Gardens" tells their personal story of discovering their shared passion for gardening and how they came to live in Vermont where they have created one of the most beautiful private gardens in the United States. Beautifully illustrated each chapter describes a different plant and the history of its inclusion into the North Hill 7 acre garden. This isn't ...more
Jun 02, 2010 Dorothy rated it it was ok
I finally finished this book! I had picked it up in an independent bookstore in Lenox, MA with my mom. It looked like a nice collection of essays on plants and gardening. And it was . . . but one thing ran through it that kept me in constant shock and amusement:

The authors are INCREDIBLY POMPOUS!!! It is really weird; this book reads like it was written by some British gentleman circa 1904. The language is so stuffy, arrogant, and waxing poetic in the cheesiest of manners, that after awhile, I k
Sep 22, 2010 Annie rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, garden
Jesus, you guys. Finally finished this book after like a month. It's a collection of essays on various flora topics written by this couple who have what sounds like a fabulous landscape design firm in Vermont. The descriptions of their own garden are absolutely absurd and jealous-inducing.

"There is a stately single specimen of 'Elegantissima' that provides a full stop to the rose path before the stones turn and become the back woodland walk."

They talk a lot about rare hybrids and plants they li
Feb 28, 2014 Rich rated it it was amazing
A fine series of essays on gardens and plants and a lot more.
Sep 13, 2011 Christine rated it really liked it
This book is the beautifully written and entertaining tale of the many years of experiences, decisions, and mysteries that two talented people have enjoyed while planning gardens, gardening, and seeing the results of their efforts. So far I am loving it.

I am still reading this one off and on between other books. I wish I could see the incredilbe gardens described! Which reminds me, the botanical drawings at the beginning of each chapter are lovely, worthy of the care and detail put into the book
Aug 09, 2012 Megan rated it liked it
The two gardeners write in detail about some of the plants they’ve collected and grown throughout their 30 years at North Hill Garden in Vermont. Sometimes minute detail. I really like the format – chapters about one kind of plant or a concept (tools, hardiness, etc) – but had a hard time absorbing all the descriptions of the various kinds of snowdrops or magnolias. The chapters are in alphabetical order, but you still get a sense of how things have developed over time in their garden.
Apr 05, 2010 Sue rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
If you enjoy reading gardening books I think you'd like this. Each small chapter covers one plant, or group of plants, & the author's personal experience with them. They make a point of letting the reader know when they have been able to raise a plant which is out of their "zone" but they loved the plant, tried anyway, & it worked. This will go in the small group of classic gardening books.
Feb 04, 2010 Carmen rated it liked it
Shelves: house-gardening
This is an account, flower by flower and plant by plant, of these two men's gardening experiences in Vermont. I didn't like the set up, separated by plants instead of seasons, or a beginning to end story. It was sometimes hard to stay interested, such as a several page chapter on gardening tools. I can see they are witty, so I will try them again. Hopefully with a different format.
Dec 24, 2011 Denise rated it liked it
If only this book included color photographs, I think I might have loved it. As it is though, I am sorry to say it was just downright boring for me. I think the stories are lovingly crafted and with some considerable skill, but in the end it boiled down to a list of plants and their features that just didn't have enough action to hold me.
Feb 24, 2009 Suburbangardener rated it liked it
Shelves: gardening
This is a very good book and one worth reading. The caveat here is that the authors fail to deal adequately with the issue of invasive plants, which spoiled the book for me. This is less a gardening book, than a book about gardens, divided into short topical essays, liberally sprinkled with useful garden information.
Dec 07, 2009 William rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book by a couple of school teachers who move from an apartment in Boston to Vermont where they found the garden design firm North Hill.

Chapters are by topic (e.g., Hellebores) in alphabetical order.

Worth reading more than once.

I read the library copy, but worth buying.
David Ward
Sep 19, 2014 David Ward rated it did not like it
Our Life in Gardens by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2009)(635) is a weak attempt to write gardening essays in the format of Henry Mitchell or Allan Lacy. These guys, who live in Vermont, fail. My rating: 1.5/10, finished 4/15/11.
Jul 12, 2011 Carlyn rated it liked it
I liked this book and it is very well written, but it was too daunting for the occasional, lackadaisical gardener (me). I gave up about half way along in the book as I felt I couldn't live up to their high standards.
Feb 02, 2010 Theresa rated it liked it

These two authors are the gardeners of gardeners. Beautifully written with very specific information on various plants and features of a very large garden.
Anita Fiorillo
May 02, 2009 Anita Fiorillo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gardening
another wonderful book from these two - very hard to tell which one is writing at any particular time!
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“We move through our days with the comfort of familiarity, waking at the same time each morning and almost always the same way...” 5 likes
“Gardens by their very nature are fragile beings that live in the two dimensions of time and care.” 3 likes
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