always readily available in stores and many farmers were struggling to make a living, the idea of going straight to the individual became the saving grace of these producers across the nation.” Today, farmers markets benefit from the fact more Americans are eating organically, locally and seasonally. To those new to such market shopping, the book offers some common-sense advice: Bring cash. Take your time. Take the kids. Talk to the farmers. Try something new. Once you’ve got your fresh foods, this book offers 200 recipes for using them. Helpfully, the book is organized according to season. You’ll try the Salted Caramel Strawberries and Fresh Asparagus Soup in spring, the ProsciuttoWrapped Mango Bites and Fresh Corn Cakes in summer. When the weather turns cool in the fall, you might try the Warm Cranberry Brie or Sweet PotatoPeanut Soup with Ham Croutons. For winter cooking there’s Pineapple Wassail and a beautiful Cranberry-Apple-Filled Walnut Cake Roll. The book concludes with information on what to look for when buying seasonal produce and a state-by-state list of farmers markets.
For All the Tea in China By Sarah Rose Viking, $25.95 Reviewed by Angela McRae Any local gardener who is a fan of the bleeding heart, winterblooming jasmine, white wisteria, corsage gardenia or Fortune’s Double Yellow tea rose has Scottish plant hunter Robert Fortune to thank. More important, however, any southerner who has ever extolled the virtues of an icy cold glass of sweet tea can thank him as well.
Fortune’s fascinating story is brought to life in the pages of Sarah Rose’s new book For All the Tea in China. Born of humble means, Fortune first learns about horticulture from his farmworker father before earning a certificate in horticulture himself. An ambitious man eager to advance in English society, he accepts an offer to explore China in search of plants at the request of the Royal Horticultural Society. Successful on that mission, he is then hired by the East India Company, which wants to grow tea in the Indian Himalayas. They hire Fortune to, as Rose puts it, “enact the greatest theft of trade secrets in the history of mankind.” The tea-making industry in China was so secretive, so safe-guarded, that the East India Company knew it would have to steal the plants and tea-making technology if they were ever to grow their own tea in India. Fortune was apparently the ideal candidate for the job, and he was willing to dress the part. He had a coolie shave the front of his head and weave a ponytail extension to the nape of his neck just so he would be more likely to fit in. We know that Fortune was successful in his efforts because we drink the fruit of his work today. What we might not know, however, is how very perilous his journey was, how he faced betrayal by his Chinese assistants, the dangers stemming from the opium dens, the occasional threats to his life and, most significantly of all, the many threats to the plants and seeds for which he risked such a journey. This book reads like a novel and will take you on a rollercoaster of a ride from first page to last. Those who garden will particularly enjoy learning about Fortune’s many contributions to plant life in the West.
Proven Plants: Southern Gardens By Erica Glasener Cool Springs Press, $24.95 Reviewed by Angela McRae If you’re looking for suggestions of what to plant in the southern garden this spring, you’d be hard pressed to find a handier guidebook than Erica Glasener’s new release, Proven Plants: Southern Gardens. Glasener, who lives in Atlanta, is well known in the South and even nationally for her garden writing and television work. In this book she lists 20 different plant categories and then recommends 10 plants for each, plants which all work well here in the South. Categories include Annuals (for both sun and shade), Perennials (for both sun and shade), Ferns, Groundcovers, Vines, Roses, Trees, Flowering Bulbs and more. Glasener encourages proper soil preparation and believes in the saying “the right plant for the right place.” “Just because a plant is a native doesn’t mean that it will thrive in any garden setting,” she says. “Before you plant, whether you use plants that are native to your area or ornaments from another part of the world, take time to learn about your environment as well as the requirements of individual plants.” Each recommended plant is pictured in color along with a brief description. Glasener also includes information on the plant’s size, growing conditions, planting zones, uses and companion plants, making this book quite helpful for anyone choosing plants to add to the garden. Also throughout the book, Glasener has included brief articles on such topics as espaliered plants, creating drama in the garden, and how to be a water-wise gardener. The book concludes with a directory of southern gardens open to the public and a bibliography and glossary for those who wish to learn more. A beautifully presented and wellorganized book, this one is a must for the southerner’s gardening library. NCM MAY/JUNE 2010 | 65
The garden issue. Features include local gardens and profiles of gardeners -- plus regular features