There are not many authors out there about whom I can say I enjoy everything they write. Amy Stewart is one of them. She first came to my attention via Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities. It was pretty interesting; enough so that I bought Wicked Bugs which left me with a few mental images I'm never going to be able to un-see, but it was worth it. Then came The Drunken Botanist which I recommend to both gardeners and drinkers.
By this time I qualified as a fan, but when she came out with her first work of fiction: Girl Waits with Gun, I was hesitant. I like to box my authors in - fiction or non-fiction - and tend to assume (wrongly, I know) that I'll enjoy one or the other, but not both. But I loved Girl Waits with Gun and at this point, I figured she could write no wrong, so I searched out pretty much everything she wrote and ordered it.
From the Ground Up is one of her earlier works, (2001) and it's a pleasant little tome; a memoir of her first garden. New to gardening and with a small back yard of bare, packed, clay, she decides to jump in with both feet and build a garden. From the Ground Up is a chronicle of that first year.
This is truly a memoir for gardeners; nothing more or less. She isn't trying to entertain her reader, or search out a greater meaning, or instruct fellow garden newbies (although each chapter ends with a small 1-2 page section of suggestions pertaining to that chapter's subject). It's a pleasant read and the joy of it is in relating to her experiences with starting a garden from scratch; the impatience that bypasses rational thought and planning, and the angst over first experiences with garden pests. Later chapters turn a shade more philosophical, which is perfectly fitting as a garden winds down for the winter.
If you'd call yourself a gardener - let's say a laid back gardener (competitive gardeners would find this book tedious) - and you see this book, it's worth taking a look. Stewart is a wonderful writer and she captures that first year garden perfectly.