I can call myself a craftsman in two realms: gardening and writing – yet I did everything in my power not to be a gardener. For the first ten years of my gardening life, I hated it with every bone in my body.

I was seven when I began gardening. My mother was a fine woman in many ways, but she was a fierce fine woman. She taught me the meaning of rhetorical questions. She used to say, “What are you going to do this afternoon?” Before I could answer, she would tell me what I was going to do that afternoon and it was always in terms of, “You’re going to weed this border, you’re going to turn ...


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