Paradise Under Glass

paradise166Paradise Under Glass is a witty and absorbing memoir about one woman’s unlikely desire to build, stock, and tend a small conservatory in her suburban Maryland home. Ruth Kassinger’s wonderful story of the unique way she chose to cope with the profound changes in her life – a book that will delight readers of Eat, Pray, Love – is interwoven with the fascinating history of conservatories from the Renaissance orangeries to the glass palaces of Kew.


Ruth Kassinger was at an emotional crossroads. Confronted with the death of a beloved sister, her children’s departure for college, and her own recent battle with breast cancer, she was searching for a way forward. Then one cold, gray evening, she wandered into the U.S. Botanic Garden’s conservatory—and a dream was born.

Dazzled by the vast and dense tangle of greenery, Kassinger decided to create a verdant sanctuary in her own home, even though the sum total of her previous indoor gardening experience was one neglected houseplant at the top of her basement stairs. In Paradise Under Glass, Ruth chronicles her journey from brown thumb to green, while sharing the knowledge and insights that creating and sustaining her fabulous garden has bestowed—lessons of loss and letting go, nurturing and rebirth, challenge and change, love and serenity.

Critical Praise

“My favorite gardening book of the year… This book sneaks up on you. It gradually builds in technical complexity as well as emotional depth, so that by the time you finish it, you’re surprised by how much you’ve learned. Readers will find this book is an antidote for the blues of a midwinter’s day or midlife malaise. But be warned… you might feel a need to start acquiring houseplants, or even a greenhouse.”
The Boston Globe

“The book [PARADISE UNDER GLASS] vividly chronicles her [Kassinger’s] initiation into the world of indoor gardening as well as the fascinating and unlikely histories of greenhouses and the flamboyant gardens they have housed…The characters Kassinger encounters, literarily and in the flesh, are as quirky as their plants.…Kassinger’s lush writing and exotic stories will delight the armchair gardener and historian. ”
Publishers Weekly

“A sumptuously written history of greenhouse horticulture.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Ms. Kassinger’s writing is chatty and intimate, but she has clearly done her library research.”
New York Times Book Review


ISBN: 9780061547768; ISBN10: 006154776X; Imprint: William Morrow/HarperCollins Hardcover (2010) and Paperback (2011);