Chosen by the American Horticultural Society as one of the seventy-five greatest books ever written about gardening, Second Nature has become a manifesto for rethinking our relationship with nature. With chapter ranging from a reconsideration of the Great American Lawn and a dispatch from one man’s war with a woodchuck to reflections on the sexual politics of roses, Pollan captures the rhythms of our everyday engagement with the outdoors in all its glory and exasperation.
This isn’t so much a how-to on gardening as a how-to on thinking about gardening. It follows the course of the natural year, from spring through winter, as [Pollan], an editor at Harper’s , chronicles his growth as a gardener in Connecticut’s rocky Housatonic Valley. Starting out as a “child of Thoreau,” [Pollan] soon realized that society’s concept of culture as the enemy of nature would get him a bumper crop of weeds and well-fed woodchucks but no vegetables to eat. Far more serviceable materially and philosophically, he now finds, is the metaphor of a garden, where nature and culture form a harmonious whole. [Pollan] finds ample time for musing on how his own tasks fit in with the overall scheme of existence; thus, there are chapters titled “Compost and Its Moral Imperatives” and “The Idea of a Garden.” Although serious in import, the writing is never ponderous; [Pollan]’s wit flashes throughout, and particularly in anecdotes about his youth: one memorable incident has his father mowing his initials in the front yard after being reproached by a suburban neighbor about his overgrown lawn. ~ Publisher Weekly