Mentors in the Garden of Life: Book Review

by Kathy Purdy on December 6, 2013 · 7 comments

in Book reviews

Colleen Plimpton

Colleen Plimpton

Gardening teaches you about life, it’s often been said, and Colleen Plimpton, in Mentors in the Garden of Life, makes this connection explicit. Each essay in her memoir pairs an influential person in her life with a plant. I always tried to guess how the plant and the person were tied together, and I was almost never right. I take that back: no almost about it!

I met Colleen at the Rochester (NY) flower and garden show when she was speaking there in March 2011. If I had read her book before we met, I would have known an awful lot about her. My, what a childhood she had! The adults in her growing-up years didn’t hesitate to teach her some of life’s lessons, but she had great liberty to roam the land around her house and interact with the natural world. It is fun to trace her interest in plants through her life, until it blossoms into a full-fledged career, just as she’s retiring from her “real” job. On the way of course, we meet the many people who mentored her, or taught her something valuable, at key points in her life.

At the end of every essay, there is a profile of the plant that’s been woven into that particular story. All the information you need to successfully grow the plant is included, as well as “interesting asides” about each plant. If you are a novice gardener, you will be introduced to new plants that you will want to grow, if for no other reason than there are now stories associatated with them in your mind. And if you already know every one of these plants, you will still smile at how it was woven into Colleen’s life, and perhaps remember how that same plant came into your garden, as well.

Colleen gave me her book to review. I’ve tried to present my honest and unbiased opinion of it. I am an Amazon affiliate, and if you click through the book links and buy something on Amazon I will earn a small commission.


Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy's been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

It isn’t that I don’t like sweet disorder, but it has to be judiciously arranged.
Vita Sackville-West

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Pascal T December 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Thnak you Kathy for your great contribution !


Jenny December 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I agree with Gail, perfect book for a rainy day!


commonweeder December 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I met Colleen at a GWA meeting a couple of years ago. I think her book is brilliant – and it reminded me of all the people who have influenced me and my garden.


Gail December 9, 2013 at 10:10 am

Sounds like a good read for a dray and wintery day.


Donna@Gardens Eye View December 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Kathy I love the idea of this book…I will check it out.


Dee Nash December 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Very good review Kathy!


Charlie@Seattle Trekker December 6, 2013 at 9:57 pm

It sounds really interesting, I am going to see if I can’t find a copy.


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