Beautiful Madness will do for competitive gardening what Word Freak did for competitive Scrabble, and what Best in Show did for competitive dog breeding. It’s Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief with a sense of humor. You’ll never look at a potted plant the same way again. During an amazing year of living botanically, James Dodson went behind the scenes of the world’s two most important garden shows (the Philadelphia Flower Show and the Chelsea Garden Show in New York City); spent time with the Botticelli of Bulbs; attended a rare plant auction of high rollers; sneaked into a Hosta convention; communed with the kindred spirits of Thomas Jefferson and John Bartram; met a man smuggling exotic day lilies; learned the inside poop on ten or twelve of the Western world’s most influential gardens; swiped cuttings from a Founding Father’s shrubbery; hung out with ten or twelve of the most accomplished gardening fanatics on earth; built three new gardens of his own; and wound up hanging perilously from a limb on the side of a cliff in Southern Africa, the birthplace of an estimated one-third of the world’s flowers, where he capped off his year of incalculable learning and discovery by tagging along with four of America’s leading plant hunters on an expedition into the rugged jungles to find the exotic new species of tomorrow. This yeoman’s tale of shared horticultural obsession burrows deeply into the story of how Americans became such fanatical gardeners and are today, in fact, at the forefront of what everyone agrees is a new Golden Age of Gardening, an unprecedented growth in gardening’s popularity that has—according to a recent Gallop poll—an astonishing eighty percent of adult Americans claiming to be primary hobby gardeners.