Dirty hands & a passion for gardening


My hands (and feet) are often dirty, and I definitely have a “passion for gardening,” the subtitle of this month’s Garden Bloggers Book Club selection. So I got my grubby mitts on a copy of fellow Austinite Robin Chotzinoff‘s 1996 book People with Dirty Hands and read it on my recent road-trip vacation.

A series of portraits of people obsessed with gardening, with stories of her own life mixed in, Robin’s book is by turns humorous, quirky, and poignant. She’s a good storyteller and deeply curious about people. I enjoyed her glimpses into the lives of passionate gardeners and her exploration of why some of us love to have our hands buried in the dirt.

For me, it’s best summed up by this quote from Robin’s gardening mentor, her Aunt Cookie:

“It’s very strange,” she says. “I get terribly distracted. I wander around deadheading, planting this, planting that. I’m out there for a couple of hours, oh, at least. And if I think, I think very intensely and very intently about exactly what I’m doing. I try to think of more important things, but I can’t.”

If you’re a passionate gardener too, you’ll know exactly what she means.

Check back with Carol at May Dreams Gardens for links to other posts about this book.


Pale pavonia ( Pavonia hastata)

All material © 2006-2008 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

4 Responses

  1. Gail says:

    I am presently reading her book…a chapter here and a chapter there, she does tell the tales of interesting folks!
    Your pavonia shot is nice…the malva family never ceases to amaze me! Gail

    I really liked the vein-like stripes on the back of the petals of this pavonia. I’ll be interested to read your post about the book, if you’re participating. —Pam

  2. Is there any deeper thinking than being fully present in the moment? Isn’t that what the meditation gurus tell us we should be doing? Ah, yes, that would be the point wouldn’t it? I loved the book, but I don’t have my review up yet.~~Dee

    I remembered that you were a fan of the book, Dee, which encouraged me to read it. I’m glad I did. It’s fun to read about others who are gardening-obsessed. —Pam

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    A good book report Pam. I would like to read the book.

    I hope you can find a copy, Lisa. —Pam

  4. I love those glimpses into the lives of passionate gardeners, and am happy you had a chance to read it on your road trip and join in for the book club.

    Thanks for suggesting it, Carol. Joining the book club was fun. —Pam

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