The Ides of March is no match for cooped-up gardeners eager to get their fingers into still-frosty earth. A new crop of gardening books should provide fertile soil for spring ideas and plantings.

Gardens are like poems, and two of horticulture's best poets are George Little and Davis Lewis. These artist-gardeners have created a legendary Eden at their compound on Bainbridge Island, Washington, visited by thousands of pilgrims each year. The gorgeous photographs of their gardens in their first book, A Garden Gallery surprise, awe and thrill, like the best gardens should. Their quirky and beautiful concrete garden sculptures hide in lush and imaginative outdoor rooms that meld ancient Mediterranean, Mexican and tropical influences, and the pictures are accompanied by inventive text about gardening and living the Little and Lewis way. The pair describe their seasonal plans, present favorite plant lists and impart design advice including a wonderful section on water features. But it is their love affair with nature itself that is especially uplifting and lyrical: as they compare a leaf to an Egyptian boat; wax eloquently about their pomegranate sculpture recalling time spent in Greece; and identify the rhythms of light, sound, shape and color in nature, they "don't shy away from the whimsical" but allow instinct and imagination to flower, creating a paradise profound.

Deanna Larson is a writer in Nashville who describes herself as a journeyman gardener.

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