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New Hampshire
The Heart of New England
The Heart of New England
Book Review
by Rebecca Rule

Garden Walks in New England
by Marina Harrison &
Lucy D. Rosenfield
(Insider’s Guide: paper, 182 pages,

AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the
White Mountains
by Robert S. Buchsbaum
(AMC Books: paper,
283 pages, $16.95).

Morning glory seeds tucked in their peat pots,
fingers crossed for sprouting, once again I imagine
the garden that might be but never is. Gardeners
are dreamers. And for gardeners like me, this
is the time of year when my garden is at its best --
full of possibilities, weed and bug free. For
inspiration, I turned to
Gardenwalks in New
England: Beautiful Gardens from Maine to
by Marina Harrison and
Lucy D. Rosenfield. The authors describe
destination gardens where, when the earth
warms and the blooms pop, you can soak
in sun and color while admiring the
accomplishments of gifted gardeners
and designers.

Harrison and Rosenfield guide you to these gardens like friends recommending
day trips to friends. They share with readers what delighted them about each of
the highlighted gardens. Their tastes are eclectic. The traditions of the formal
garden are to be admired, but so is the creativity and unpredictability of the
informal garden. Some gardens trace their roots to the Italian Renaissance,
“elegant, proportioned, and symmetrical... a harmonious balance between nature
and architecture.” Others spring from the tradition of the picturesque English
garden and its romantic ideals: “poetic disorder, free-form designs, . . .
reconstructed ruins and grottoes -- in short, . . . the garden as a metaphor for
romantic poetry and art.”

Colonial gardens -- like the one at the Moffatt-Ladd house in Portsmouth -- recall a
time in this country when just about every home kept a garden to serve the family’
s needs. Many were fenced or walled to keep out the “frightening wilderness.”
Walled gardens promise privacy but can also be “metaphors for religious belief.”
In the Middle Ages, the walled gardens “were thought to symbolize freedom and
beauty with precisely set boundaries.”

The authors offer overviews of several garden types, including topiaries,
conservatories, water gardens, rock gardens, and the Asian garden, as described
by Basho in the 1600s:

A lonely pond in age-old stillness sleeps,
Apart, unstirred by sound or motion till
Suddenly into it a little frog leaps . . .

The bulk of the book is devoted to a garden-by-garden tour of New England.
Fourteen gardens made the New Hampshire list, from a lengthy description of the
world famous Aspet once home to sculptor Saint-Gaudens in Cornish to a
paragraph on Mr. Jacquith’s humble but memorable garden in Rumney:

Mr. Jacquith has a beautiful garden right on Main Street in this tiny town. Though
it’s a private garden, he likes visitors, and you may leave a small donation to help
with its upkeep.

The roses at the Fuller Gardens in North Hampton made a big impression with
“some 1,500 rose bushes of all types -- grandifloras, floribundas, and hybrid teas,”
ranking among the best designed rose gardens the authors have ever seen. Other
New Hampshire standouts: the wild orchids at Ossipee Lake and Heath Pond Bog
in Center Ossipee; the sixteen-acres of rhododendrons at Rhododendron State
Park in Fitzwilliam; the native New England shrubs, trees, and ferns at Fox Forest
in Hillsborough; and, of course, Prescott Park in Portsmouth, “one of the most
beautiful downtown city parks we have see.” The extensive flower beds are
maintained by UNH horticultural students and “the plantings -- while not
particularly unusual -- are spectacular in the brilliance.”

For those who seek more challenging walks and wilder
flora, the new guide from the Appalachian Mountain
Best Day Hikes in the White Mountains, may
be just the ticket. My husband, who loves hiking,
glommed onto this book as soon as it walked in the door.
I have a feeling we’ll be taking some of these hikes
soon -- maybe even before the black flies claim
the trails as their own.

Writer Robert Buchsbaum rates 50 trails for difficulty,
distance, elevation, views, waterfalls, wildlife,
wildflowers, steepness, snowshoeing, cross-country
skiing, and whether they’re appropriate for kids.
He begins with advice about planning and safety --
bring insect repellant, for example, and a first-aid kit; invest in good boots and
break them in before you attempt the Presidentials; dress in layers and be
prepared for changeable weather and the chill of the summits. Oh, and stay on the
trail. It’s a real good idea to stay on the trail.

As in Gardenwalks, the bulk of the book describes specific locations and the ups
and downs of the fifty trails, grouped by notch (Franconia,Crawford/Zealand,
Pinkham, Evans) and region (Kilkenny, Kancamagus, Sandwich/Waterville
Valley). There’s a section on AMC huts. And, bonus, for those who want to ease
into summer fitness, ten natural attractions and nature walks under 90 minutes
round trip. These small excursions include Crystal Cascade, just a fifteen-minute
walk from the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center; the Flume Gorge at Franconia
Notch; the Forest Discovery Trail along the Kancamagus, complete with benches
and fact plaques; and Diana’s Baths along the Moat Mountain Trail near North
Conway. Shop the outlets and sneak in a hike on the same day -- that’s the New
Hampshire way.

About the author
Rebecca Rule is a humorist, author and storyteller, who is the author of two collections of
short fiction, including The Best Revenge, winner of the NH Writers Project award for
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
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