This gardening memoir is a fine object lesson about how a hobby or passion can become a burden or obsession. Alexander shows the progression from the idea of the garden, the expansion of the idea, the expansion of the expansion, and the realization that joy has become drudgery. Alexander is both humorous and self-deprecating. Those reviewers who focus their criticism on his switch from organic to non-organic pesticides make a useful point about garden practices but miss the focus of this particular narrative, which is, at its heart, about the impossibility of supplanting one system (here, nature) with another. The amendments that make your tomatoes grow also support your weeds. Your tomatoes are eaten by insects, slugs, groundhogs, and deer. Cultivated land is overrun. As Carl Sandburg wrote, "I am the grass; I cover all." Though Alexander does not overtly pursue this idea as an emblem for civilization, he does highlight the theme that gardening, or bridge-painting, or other constructive pursuits must be actively pursued in order to maintain their object. Read with an inspirational garden planning book to enjoy the discrepancy between fantasy and reality; read with Weisman's The World Without Us for further ruminations on, respectively, systems change and Things That Live on and Around You, despite your best efforts.