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‘The Little Green Book’ by City Islander Barbara Burn

Bronxite cultivates garden book

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While the ground is still bare, a Bronx author is bringing a bit of early color to gardeners.

Long time City Island resident Barbara Burn Dolensek recently complied an anthology of gardening quotations, called “The Little Green Book of Gardening Wisdom.”

Dolensek, who publishes under the name Burn, has written 13 other books, but this is the first book she’s published based on her 25-year love of gardening.

Dolensek said the book was a natural result of years of reading and editing gardening books through both her hobby and her work in the publishing industry.

When looking for material for the anthology, she started with her own sizable collection of books, then her friend’s books, and on from there.

She said that while the internet was helpful in her research, especially when it comes to finding translations of classic works, she cautions that many gardening quotes found on websites are worded incorrectly or wrongly attributed. She only used quotations which she could trace to their origins.

“I did a great deal more research than I anticipated,” she said.

The quotes range from Euripedes in the 5th cenury B.C., “Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves,” to William Blake in 1793, “To create a little flower is the labour of ages,” and beyond.

Dolensek said that gardening is one of oldest subjects of literature, going back to the story of Eden in the Bible and works of Plato.

She loves gardening because while it sounds like work, it’s actually relaxing, and it gets her outside and away from her computer.

“It’s a lovely kind of way to spend time.”

Dolensek said she began gardening after she and her late husband bought an old house on City Island with a sizable yard. After they fixed up the house they turned to the yard with visions of a beautiful garden, but the waterfront property with salt-water spray proved challenging.

“It was a disaster in the beginning,” she said.

Now she’s gotten the hang of it, and she’s active in the City Island Garden Club and on the garden committee of the board at Bartow-Pell Mansion.

She said she likes that gardening is an ongoing process of learning, planning and planting.

“Every year is a new challenge,” she noted, “and I enjoy them.”

But she wishes she had started gardening sooner in her life.

“I regret all those years I didn’t help my father garden,” she said.

To that point, one of her favorite gardening quotations is from a 1950 column for The Observer, written by Vita Sackville-West:

“The more one gardens, the more one learns; And the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows.”

“The Little Green Book of Gardening Wisdom” can be found at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.com. Dolensek will be signing copies of her book at the plant sale at the Bartow-Pell Mansion on Saturday, May 17.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at jwilliams@cnglocal.com.
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