David Ebershoff
Editor-at-Large, Random House Publishing Group
August 2010

Jim and I first met several years ago when I became his editor at Random House. Soon afterwards he invited me down to Washington to visit some of his gardens. As he led me through gates and down paths and behind fences and along hedges, and explained how the gardens had come to be, I realized something important about Jim: he is a storyteller. At lunch he tells stories, on the phone he tells stories, and, through his gardens, he is always telling stories. His gardens tell stories about what has transpired there and, just as important, what one day might occur. When standing in one of his gardens it's easy to imagine the picnic, the nap, the day-dream, the assignation that the grasses and trees have inspired. It's easy to see a woman in the sunlight, a child in the shade, a couple walking through a field. One can conjure the moods of the garden's visitors: the joy, the sorrow, the longing, the ache. Jim understands that the art of garden design, like the art of storytelling, is about people - that there is no point in laying a path or seeding a meadow or writing a book if it is not going to touch the people who experience it. And that's what makes his work, both as a designer and an author, so lasting: to come into contact with Jim and his art is to be forever moved.