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Mary Cummings
Sound Commentary, August 2010

The Pleasures of the Garden is not a random collection of garden poetry and essays. The selections are arranged into four categories: Lovers of Gardens and Lovers in Gardens, Grand Designs, Practical Gardening, and Solace for Body and Soul. Hardyment has reached far back in time to find works by classic writers such as Francis Bacon, Voltaire, and Jane Austen. There are poems, essays and letters written by Thomas Jefferson, Pliny the Younger, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, and many others. Although some of the selections will be familiar, most of them are less well known. A few contain somewhat tedious listings of botanical names, but most of the selections are surprising, inspiring, and appealing. One feels compelled to head outdoors with a spade and some seeds after listening to the love of gardening expressed by the various writers.

Each CD represents one of the four themes, and each reading is a separate track, allowing for easy replay of favorites. Hardyment introduces each selection, putting it in its context and providing information about the author. There are almost twenty readers, and their voices are nicely matched for gender and age to the particular work being read. All readers have pleasant, clear, trained voices. This audiobook is a distinctly British production, with English, Scottish and Irish accents. One should savor and revisit it, just as one would a real garden.

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