A Gardening Section of One’s Own


Dscn4406My book collection just increased by about 50,000 volumes.  My husband and I, along with another local couple, just bought an antiquarian bookstore called Eureka BooksRead all about it here if you’d like, but as we’ve been talking about gardening books a lot this week, I thought I’d turn my attention to the store’s gardening section. (In this photo, it’s on the ground floor, left, right below that round mirror hanging from the banister)

This is not the place you go to buy the latest slick and gorgeous coffee table book, although who knows, maybe we’ll bring some of those in.  (Oh, wait.  I just realized I can buy new books at wholesale.  I’m very, very afraid.)  No, this is the kind of place where you find dusty old wonders like these titles from my own bookshelf–many of which I bought at Eureka Books at one time or another over the years.

Rousseau’s Letters on Botany, bound in leather, with dreamy hand-colored plates

An incredibly fragile old leather-bound volume of Loudon’s Encyclopedia of Gardening, set in incredibly tiny type and packed with all sorts of good gardening advice from the pre-chemical era, most of which involves the liberal application of dung and muck.

Five Acres and Indpedence:  A Practical Guide to the Selection and Management of the Small Farm, a wonderful 1930s manifesto on small farming and off-the-grid living–before there was much of a grid.

Garden Clubs & Spades, a silly little book of light verse and New Yorker cartoons, printed in 1941, which includes a cartoon of two elegant ladies on the lawn of a lavish estate, looking at three newly-planted saplings.  One of them is saying to the other, "I’m so angry with the maples."

And finally, an 1892 volume that has nothing to do with gardening except for the magnolia branch on the cover, but I bought it for the title and the useful advice therein: How To Be Happy Though Married

Yes, one wonders.  Well, if you’re ever up here behind the Redwood Curtain, do stop in and see how the gardening section is coming along.


  1. If I were visiting Eureka I know I’d make a beeline for that funky storefront, and that’s even before you flower it up.
    But how does it impact us here at the Rant? We already know there are dozens of really cool old gardening and nature books coming our way, so yippee!
    But most of all, good for you! Scott, too, of course.

  2. Is that what book stores look like in your neighborhood? Major envy here. In my neck of the woods antiquarian bookstores are generally in a dark basement and involve combing through stacks of books organized in a system comprehended only by the antiquarian owner. I think I just figured out I want to own a bookstore when I retire. More envy.

  3. Congratulations, Amy … a dream come true. What a charming structure! I can almost smell antiquity. Do wish I lived closer for a long browse within …

  4. I grew up in a bookstore like this, it was in Menlo Park and was called Kepler’s. I am not sure if its still there. This is the equivalent to opening or buying a garden center these days. You got guts, but if anyone can pull it off it would be you. I think that most of the bookstores that we’re negatively affected by the chain book stores are gone. Now its time for the specialty places to make a come back. I am also envious of what you are doing. It looks like beautiful space. Perfect for hanging out during a winter storm!

  5. Owning a used bookstore is one of those dreams that I put to rest years ago. I’m thrilled that you’re doing it, and feeling a tinge of that old urge come back to me.

  6. Congrats on the store purchase. I would imagine your husband is more afraid of that wholesale garden book purchasing pleasure of yours than you are.

  7. Congratulations! What a beautiful space. And great books. I have my own second hand copy of Five Acres and Independence bought about 30 years ago. When my mother saw it she just shook her head and said I was just like my grandfather. That was a thought that had never occurred to me. I was hoping to be a back to the lander, but my Swedish grandfather who immigrated at the age of 16 eventually bought a 300 acre farm on the shores of Lake Champlain with his adult son in 1939. He saw war coming and wanted to feed his family. He had the book – and built his own grid before Rural Electrification. A small hydroelectric dam.

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