The University of Wisconsin Press

Environmental Science / Gardening


The Gardener's Year
Karel Capek
Illustrated by Josef Capek

Karel Capek's The Gardener's Year is a timeless classic of wit and wisdom, sure to capture the heart and imagination of every gardener—indeed, everyone who has pursued any hobby with a passion that occasionally overrides good common sense.

Originally published more that fifty years ago in the former Czechoslovakia, it transcends the years with grace and ease. Whether Capek is talking about the lack or surfeit of rain, the fruitless search for space to plant just a few more perennials, or the unfathomable mystery of the green thumb, his words strike chord upon chord within every gardener, in every time and place. Fifty-eight sprightly drawings by Karel Capek's brother Josef Capek, lend themselves perfectly to the artful simplicity and humour of this book.

Through the year, Capek does battle with the garden hose, learns the value of patience in spring, prays to the Lord for rain (but only on certain parts of the garden, please), buys far too many plants at every opportunity, curses raspberry canes that invade from his neighbor's garden, routs stones from the soil (they seem to grow from spores), and agonizes continually about the garden while he is on vacation in August. In short, Karel Capek is a gardener, timeless, with all the frailties, hope, and boundless optimism necessarily shared by all gardeners. After the sun sets, he leans on his spade and sighs with deep content: "I have sweated today!"

Karel Capek is well known for his early science fiction, notably The War of the Newts. The Gardener's Year, in which he gives himself over freely to his true passion, was published originally in Czech, in 1929, and in English by Allen & Unwin in 1931. Long out of print, it found a new life in a 1982 French edition, and now—with this Wisconsin reprinting of the English translation—Capek's book takes a firm place among the classic works of gardening literature.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

Green Illustrated with Gardener at Work in Yellow

August 1984

LC: 84-040203 PG
160 pp.   4 1/2 x 7

The cloth and paper editions are out of print.



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Updated May 2, 2013

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