From the Lexington, Kentucky Herald-Review
May 17, 2008
Review by Susan Smith-Durisek
I’ll impulsively latch on to any book with words like ‘wild’ and ‘garden’ in the title. Ordinarily, the attraction is satisfied by a cursory scan and momentary nod of appreciation. But here, the text defied speed reading. Johnson’s musings dig deep, sometimes indirect furrows through her recollections of gardening and the history of over 30 years spent at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Marin County, CA. The farm has a long history of supplying organic produce to local markets, as well as nurturing student gardening programs; Johnson, who is also a Buddhist meditation instructor, has been a moving force in implementing those projects with focused attention and careful service.
There are poetic images which define reality: "Gardens and plants are unmanageably alive, speaking with long grass-green tongues in their distinct language woven out of blank sunlight and matted roots." There is down-to-earth detailed advice on coping with scores of garden issues, including tools, design, weeds, diseases, and insects. And there is purpose: "Every garden worth its salt becomes paradise by being both a safe refuge from the madness of the world and a field of action within the cacophony of this very world."
Filled with stories of propagation, people and programs that gardeners will find useful in both establishing their own personal gardens and understanding what might work to initiate community programs, this substantial memoir sows a diverse field of seeds for readers to cultivate.