Spring Rain: A Life Lived in Gardens

Greystone. Apr. 2023. 216p. ISBN 9781778400278. $26.95. NATURE/ESSAYS
Gardener, poet, and artist Hamer completes his “Gardeners” trilogy (after Seed to Dust and How To Catch a Mole) with this beautifully descriptive, lyrical memoir. Chapters alternate between his childhood growing up with an abusive father and distant mother and his retirement years, where he revamps his own neglected garden after years of working in a client’s, with brief glimpses of being unhoused as a teen. Learning—from the natural world and an old set of encyclopedias—enhanced his childhood, ultimately leading to a long career as a professional gardener. He discusses the process and the importance of recreating habitat in his own yard, as well as the joy of being immersed in nature, whether at home or away. Along the way, he shares his philosophy of life and death, his secrets to a happy life, and his coming to terms with his aging body that can no longer do all the things he wishes.
VERDICT This ultimately hopeful memoir, with the natural world seamlessly woven throughout, will appeal to gardeners, natural history buffs, and those who relish natural history–framed memoirs like Margaret Renkl’s Late Migrations and Meredith May’s The Honey Bus.
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