A Growing Gardener . . .


I admit that I do almost all my reading these days on my iPad and have begun the purge of all the fiction from my bookshelves. A lot of non-fiction too.

However, there will never be a replacement for the real life art books I have collected for a lifetime. I treasure them – actually caress their pages sometimes. OK – is that weird?

Art instruction books are nice if they are well done, but the real jewels are the books that speak not only of art, but of artful living as well, and I am going to bring these to your attention whenever I get a chance.

I recently acquired “A Growing Gardener” when it was casually mentioned in somebody’s blog (Val Webb’s Illustrated Garden, I think). It is no longer in print so you have to buy it used from Amazon.

If there is anything I love even more than art journals, it is garden journals, because therein are both of my great loves. I can’t think of a greater pleasure than sitting on my garden swing or in my green house studio, trying to record the experiences and feelings I have there onto journal pages.

And then I love to see how somebody else has done that.

Well, I can’t even describe how wonderful this book is.

The author, Abbie Zabar, chronicles a year in the life of the rooftop garden she created in Manhattan. She does so with such wonderful prose that you want to quote her, with a quirky sense of humor, and a true sense of the spiritual side of a garden. She is a wonderful storyteller.

And she draws great illustrations, embellished with some of the best quotes from artists and gardeners through history.




Every here and there, a little insert is bound into the book . . .


Which opens to a map, a plan, or a recipe . . .


I have read this over and over and am wearing it out. So glad I got a *used* copy (in case it gets watered in the greenhouse by accident). But I also ordered a NEW used copy to keep in pristine condition.

The book was published in 1996, and Ms. Zabar seems to gone low profile, butI found a New York Times article from 2000 which told how she had moved and was starting over on a tiny balcony.


And I saw another article from 2014 about her teaching a garden club how to trim topiaries. So I hope she is doing well.

Long may she garden!!



  1. I think it looks like a wonderful book. I bet my gardening sister who lives in Japan with her son would love it.

    I have started a topiary tree. It’s just begun but I hope to have it end up being 3 pompons in a vertical line. Rather mundane but its in a pot and I didn’t figure a frog should be my first topiary. I have trouble enough just keeping plants alive especially in pots.

  2. I just sent one to my sister the gardener. She likes whimsical things like inserts as you showed. Thanks. It’s seldom I find anything to send to her.

  3. Just ordered one. Looks like a book I will enjoy. Thanks for putting us on to this one!

  4. That book looks and sounds nice, but it doesn’t begin to compare with your art, prose, and general creativity.

  5. Marilyn, thanks for the suggestion of Janet Marsh’s “Nature Diary”. I just ordered it.

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