What most struck me on this second reading was how this book influenced my opinions and how my opinions have since diverged from those of Perenyi about gardening. I agree with Perenyi's dislike of the vulgar, rejecting those suburban gardens that are full of nothing but the newest hybrids. I also was influenced by her stance on annuals, where she condemns the standard American practice of "the ribbon border" of a mishmash of different colored annuals. Like Perenyi, I also have no annuals planted in the ground in my ornamental garden. Where my opinion diverges is in Perenyi's strong dislike for colored foliage. She doesn't want to see Autumn colors in Summer. I find that judicious use of purple or chartreuse foliage can add interest to a garden's down time, when little may be in bloom in a certain area.
The format of the book is user-friendly, an alphabetical compilation of unrelated essays, which may be read in small bits, or several at a time, perfect for Winter lunch break or bedtime reading.
Reading this book is like sitting in Perenyi's garden listening to her talk about gardens and gardening. In addition to sound horticultural advice (don't bother digging up wildflowers to plant in your own garden, they'll probably not survive), it is full of humor and still-timely insights. For example, she condemns any "flower whose grower thinks of it in terms of advertising and brand names" as it "ceases to be a flower and becomes a product to be marketed like any other." The same holds true for other plants as well and the brand-naming of plants seems to be a more recent phenomenon. Particularly striking, and unique in gardening books is the essay, "Woman's Place," a feminist polemic on the history of gardens, both Eastern and Western.
This is a book to make a gardener think about the place of his or her garden in the world and how each garden has an impact on the planet as a whole. If you haven't already read it, go buy it or check it out from the library. No matter your skill or experience at gardening, there is something worthwhile for any gardener in this book.