Book of the Month for Sep 2018

Natural Selection: A Year in the Garden

Dan Pearson, Natural Selection: A Year in the Garden.

Guardian Books and Faber and Faber, London, 2017. 421 pp.

List $26.95   Amazon:  $17.67


            Following the familiar format of a year on the garden, starting in January and progressing through the seasons from bud and seed to harvest, death and sleep, well-known writer, journalist and garden designer Dan Pearson selected entries from ten years as a garden columnist for the Observer to describe his life in horticulture. Diaristic entries document past formative experiences, introduce mentors, describe ongoing design projects in several countries and offer asides on gardening and country life, including honeybee culture, soft fruit management, orchard practices and propagation techniques.

            Observations are mostly specific to his two gardens in urban London and rural Somerset, but are chatty, informative and applicable to other far-flung locales as well. Pearson was trained at the RHS garden at Wisley and provides practical horticultural advice as well as digressions on a variety of subjects including pest control methods, garden history, effective plant combinations and fall cleanup suggestions.

            The book can be read cover to cover, opened at random or consulted on the date closest to the reader’s own location within a year. Each method yields satisfaction and genuine education. Pearson is an eloquent, observant and patient teacher.


Steve Whitesell is a retired landscape architect and gardens in rural upstate New York.