Upon moving to Santa Barbara in 1981 as a “gardener with a lawnmower,” Randy Arnowitz set about mastering the finest points of landscaping. “Most gardeners don’t know about anything except how to blow down a driveway,” said Arnowitz, so he became an expert in pruning roses, repotting orchids, laying irrigation, and other specialized skills. “I learned how to do things right.” He also taught himself to write by penning gardening columns for this newspaper and others over the past two decades.
Arnowitz’s latest feat is publishing a children’s book called Noah’s Alphabet Garden, in which a shears-toting, overall-wearing golden retriever takes kids on an alphabetic, rhyming journey through the art of gardening. “B is for the crawly bugs that some folks say they hate,” goes the second chapter. “But Noah never squashes them. ‘They’re here to pollinate.’” If the reaction of my 4- and 7-year-old kids are any indication, the easy-to-understand yet informative format speaks to a range of ages, and the colorful, whimsical drawings are a treat for all to see.
Arnowitz came up with most of the rhymes many years ago, but it took a long time to find an artist to turn his words into images. “For every worm and every bug in that book, I had to convey to the artist what was in my head — even the pruner holster on his waist,” said Arnowitz, who worked with FX and Color Studio and Summerland Publishing to bring the book to life. “Everything was translated from my brain onto the artist.” Noah, meanwhile, is a compilation of all the great golden retrievers that Arnowitz has adopted over the years, including his current one.
With sales already steady at both bookstores and garden shops, Arnowitz said he would consider a sequel if he breaks even on the project. But the positive feedback is payment enough. Said Arnowitz, “It’s already fulfilled a dream for me because it looks really good and people really like it.”
Noah’s Alphabet Garden is for sale at Tecolote Book Shop, Chaucer’s Books, Vices & Spices, Lotusland, the S.B. Botanic Garden, Upstairs at Pierre Lafond, Island Seed & Feed, and on Amazon. See greenjeansmr.com.