Non Fiction

Strangers in the Garden


“Strangers in the Garden is a brilliant piece of work — a joy for non-gardeners as well as for those of us who grub away in the soil.”
      Pierre Berton

“This book is filled with wonderful stories about the flowers that Andrew Smith has chosen to feature and will enhance anyone’s enjoyment of their favourites.”
      Marjorie Harris






“To read this book is to get a kind of contact high.”
      The Province

“Authors Carol Sherman, Andrew Smith, and Erik Tanner treat weed first and foremost as “a pop-culture artifact,” with breezy, trivia-riddled chapters dealing with its influence on artists (the Marx Brothers), politicians (George Washington), and both ancient and modern history (no, not the Vikings, too!).”
      Quill and Quire





Winner of a Western Canada
Magazine Award

“Don’t forget,” the Frenchman had said. “It is essential for you to go by bus. It takes two days to Leh from Srinagar. You will be tempted to fly there. Don’t. I have been down the Amazon, I have spent five weeks in the Sahara … and they are nothing to those two days going from Srinigar to Leh, up the Kashmir valley into the mountains of Ladakh.”   From ‘A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters with Buddhism’ by Andrew Harvey.

Precisely one day after I came to the end of Harvey’s exhilarating book I happened to read an item in the Globe and Mail about the same journey from Srinigar to Leh through the Himalayas of northern India. Buddha, it seemed, had sent me a sign. There was no alternative but to start making plans to leave.

The 434-kilometre journey to Leh, the capital of Ladakh, the remote mountain area in India’s Kashmir and Jammu state, begins in the Silk Road city of Srinagar. The road was built as a result of the 1962 Indochinese conflict. Fearing expansion-minded China would try to snatch Ladakh into its domain, the Indian government constructed the only motor route between Srinagar and Leh. Its purpose: to convey army equipment and personnel to the isolated region.

Apart from our group of 14, ranging from a 19-year-old student to a 65-year-old grandmother, the bus carried: a driver; a conductor, whose presence seemed mysterious since there were no fares to be collected; a cook with two helpers; and six chickens who rode on the roof.

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