Other than writing and teaching, my passions include cooking, reading (especially spy fiction, travel writing and naval yarns), hiking in New England, sailing small boats, traveling, and above all, gardening. As a youngster, I spent a number of years in Japan, where gardening is a highly developed art form, and I’ve always been attracted to well-designed public gardens. In the Philadelphia area, where the climate is mild, we have dozens of renowned gardens, most of which began life as private domains but now are accessible to flower-and-shrub addicts like me. We prowl around them with notebooks and cameras, keeping track of new species and unusual combinations. And my spare minutes are usually spent in the back yard, trowel, pruners and garden-hose at the ready. Gardening is a bit like writing history: it requires attention to detail and careful planning, it is a solitary pursuit, and it takes a long time to get good results.