Gardening Book Is Combination of Eye-Popping Photography, Instructive How-To and Poetic Observation

Result of year-long project is love letter to nature, family and growing things


Most year-long experiments are extraordinary sacrifices of inconvenience and toil – living biblically, eating locally or cooking an entirely new recipe every day. Rebecca Palumbo did something that one third of Americans might accomplish without any cost or resources, but that has never been done before. Beginning on the first day of spring and concluding on the last day of winter, she photographed, observed and wrote about the growth and evolution, the sex, the beauty, the violence – the entire Other World – right outside her door.
Written in exquisite detail and beautifully photographed, A Year In The Garden: Incredible Beauty, Explosive Sex and Violent Death in One Suburban Backyard ( – $14.95) documents an average Midwest (Zone 5, for those keeping track) suburban garden for an entire lunisolar year. Through Damn Rabbits, prolific insects, disappointing watermelons and more, readers will not only learn how to divide perennials, build chicken-wire fence panels and control powdery mildew, they will learn how life in the garden mirrors real life, including the joy of a happy marriage, the recovery of the author’s son from depression and her daughter’s approaching adulthood. The book, jam-packed with educational information, reverent, telescopic observations and just plain fun, is truly a window into the soul of a gardener.
Gardeners will love this book to watch the progression of each plant and bed as it unfolds in photographs. They will learn and reinforce concepts of plant care, garden care and pest repellents. For many, the most important tool will be the comparison of their own garden’s progression to the author’s garden.
Hope-to-be-gardeners will enjoy planning the possibilities for their own yards. Learning curves will be shortened as they learn from these successes and mistakes. Because of the photographs, they will truly understand the cycles of a garden and set reasonable expectations for their own, including their own time commitment to achieve the desired results. They will get a true sense of what it means to really be a Gardener, to feel that your slice of earth is a little part of the vastness of this universe, that the garden is not just about seeds and weeds, but that it’s about thought processes and personal growth.
Apartment and city dwellers and those who can’t garden will revel in this as it transports the reader into the garden, exquisitely, throughout the year. There is no need to sigh over asphalt, sealed windows or aged knees – reading this memoir and viewing the photographs will take them right into the garden – throughout the year. Each chapter is a mini-vacation to a paradise and for the reader, that paradise becomes theirs. They will get an understanding that life in the garden is mirrored by life outside, that a small garden is a microcosm of the world at large.
Beyond the “nuts and bolts”, readers will also find an almost divine experience in the verbalization of the spirituality we all feel when we’re in the garden. This book hits so many nerves – the need for nature, the need to grow things, the need to solve problems as we dig in the soil.
Since Rebecca Rollins Palumbo could hold a trowel, she has been gardening – first as her mother’s oft-reluctant assistant and now for her own joy and satisfaction. She has gardened in the frustrating full shade off the patio of her first apartment, in the troublesome full shade of her first house and now in a perfect combination of sun and shade in her present home, the subject of this book. She wrote a column about nature and gardening for the Chicago Tribune. She is a certified Master Gardener and her garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat.
Rebecca earned a Bachelor of Art from Northern Illinois University with a concentration in photography and a strong emphasis in English and writing. She is Creative Director of Rollins Palumbo Creative, a design and advertising firm in Chicagoland.  She resides in Tinley Park, Illinois, a southwestern suburb of Chicago, with her husband, Tony, two “young adult” children, two dogs and a betta fish named Sundance.