Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Tale of Gardening Madness: Backyard by Norman Draper

I think this is the third day of below 0 temperatures in Cedar Rapids.  All I know is the wind is blowing, it's snowing again, and our current temperature is 9 degrees (with windchill -11)This immediately turns my head towards gardening, sunny skies, and lush landscapes.  

Backyard is a hilarious tale of a gardening competition that sets neighbor against neighbor in a bid to have the best garden in Livia.  The characters are all a hoot:  Dr. Phyllis Sproot, a self-proclaimed expert on gardening (who gets her PhD from a six-week mail-order course in horticulture), Marta Poppendauber, who has a garden that is a beautiful mess (and drives Dr. Sproot nuts), and George and Nan Fremont, who spend all of their time working in their glorious backyard garden, or sitting on their deck sipping gin and tonics and staring at their glorious backyard garden.  These characters are such fun in their dysfunction.  And we all know people like this, too. 

I was laughing out loud at the hijinks that happen in Livia as the day of judging draws near  and the competition escalates.  Dr. Sproot guilts Marta into spying on the Fremonts and engaging in secret forays to destroy their garden, little by little.  I'll leave you to discover just how comical Marta is--let's just say she's no Jane Bond.  And best of all, the Fremonts are completely oblivious to Dr. Sproot's machinations.  

So who wins the competition?  Is Dr. Sproot's sure-fire garden combination of yucca-coreopsis-salvia-hollyhock destined to be the winner?  Or will Marta's English countryside garden take the top spot?  Or do the Fremonts win the big pot?  

This really is a fun book to read.  Anyone who loves to garden will completely understand this book.  Anyone who wants a good laugh will enjoy this book.  And anyone stuck under a blanket of snow will certainly read this book and immediately start perusing the seed catalogs and planning their garden. It's a lighthearted look at people's obsessions and just how far we will go to be number one.  Sit back, enjoy and dream of summer.  

Rating:  7/10 for a very funny look at gardening and competition.  The characters are a stitch!  

Available in paperback and e-book. 


  1. I really enjoy reading your blog, it's always so interesting every article you post! Thanks for sharing it!

  2. Thanks so much for reading my blog. Hopefully there's something here that has you reaching for a great read.

  3. So I just sent a recommedation of your blog on a mindful mothers public forum in Lexington Kentucky. I'm sure that will find it delightful as I do.

  4. I really enjoy reading your book reviews. I just started blogging about books. (and i regret it starting it just now,hehe) - what i love about your blog your being straightforward, simple in words , being honest and witty. :) -- Your my inspiration in doing my blog. I'm actually still looking for book bloggers. and out of 5 i started checking I deleted all the 4. hihi. looking forward to more of your reviews! thanks!

    1. HI Grace! Thank you so much for your kind words. I try to keep it simple, not give too much of the plot away (I like people to discover a book's surprises on their own), and be honest in my reviews. Good luck!

  5. This sounds like another fun read!! Thanks for sharing!!

    Stay warm during the cold weather and have fun reading... I saw that you live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa... I actually graduated from the University of Iowa, in Iowa City and use to fly out of Cedar Rapids for visits back home!

    I miss Iowa in many ways, just not the cold winters!!