Gardens of Earthly Delight, by Patricia Corbin. New York: E. P. Dutton. 155 pp. $35. When it's cold outside, gardening books become irresistible.
Among the latest selection, a few stand above the crowd. Patricia Corbin has written such a book, and the best advice is to run right out and buy it immediately. Better yet, buy two -- you will want to share it, but you will not want anyone near your own precious copy.
Garden books, catalogs, the addresses for buying dragonflies or alpine plants, animals in the garden (of interest to those who have llamas as well as less exotic cats and dogs), and a brief explanation of Latin names are all part of Ms. Corbin's excellent capsulation of many flowery subjects.
Descriptive brevity goes to the core of the infinite topics which fascinate gardeners: companion planting, colors, texture, statuary, flower history, design, and garden tours.
Corbin outlines a simple flower garden design which, if copied, could turn the uninitiated black-thumbed beginner into a gardening addict.
The book's format is unique; the writing is full of streamlined flourishes. (``The silver grays can lace through a flower bed, keeping a full house of electric blooms in good order.'')
The many exciting garden ideas are culled from New England gardens, especially in Maine, and from garden designers and some inspired ``backyard'' gardeners. Try this combination: ``Day lily `Singing Sixteen' (a rosy apricot color) with Chelone (a rosy pink turtlehead plant), and Ligularia `Desdemonia,' a purply-leaved plant.''
The uniqueness of American gardens is captured by Southie Burgin's photography. A close-up shows the delicacy of a white iris with lavender-blue petal edges. A long-range view displays a border or garden with background of picket fence, forest, or the deep blue of the Maine coast.
It is a joy to absorb the colors and compositions of these pictures within a picture. The two-page layout photographs are the glorious stuff a gardener's dreams are made of.