A Full Life in a Small Place

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

“The use of every garden,” writes Janice Bowers, is “to bringits inhabitants into proper relation with the infinite.” In A FULLLIFE IN A SMALL PLACE, Bowers describes her deepening interest,after the age of forty, in Southwestern suburban gardening. Trained as a field botanist, Bowers notes the unexpected varietyand richness of wildlife, birds, and insects in her small suburbanplot in Tucson, right in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Gardening in the desert Southwest is a compromise with the climate,soil and aridity, Bowers discovers, as she tempers her gardener’senthusiasm with the harsh demands of the desert terrain.

The sixteen essays in A FULL LIFE IN A SMALL PLACE are dividedinto three sections: “The Garden and the Desert”; “OrdinaryMiracles”; and “The Green Garden of the Heart.” Bowers’ literarytalents as a journal keeper and a personal essayist enrich theseessays with lively anecdotes and reflections, scientific andliterary allusions, and the hard-won wisdom of a patient andobservant gardener. As Bowers notes, though she expected to findbiological principles at work in her garden, she did not expectthat her quest for gardening lore would touch upon such a widerange of human knowledge.

A FULL LIFE IN A SMALL PLACE is more than a collection ofgardening essays. It is a philosophy of life—the record ofa gardener who has made peace with her particular place on earth. These essays will bring much pleasure to the natural history readerand the Southwestern gardener alike.