Archive for the ‘Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life’ Category

WritersGardenWhat is it about authors and gardens? Is it the authors’ artistic natures that attract them to gardens? There are authors well known for the gardening interests such as Jane Austen, Emily Dickenson and Beatrix Potter, whose gardens are artistically recreated in her books. For more on that, read the wonderful Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell which features photos of her gardens, Potter’s drawings of flowers and scenes from her books.BeatrixPottersGardeningLife

The Writer in the Garden edited by Jane Garmey includes essays by such diverse authors as E. B. White, Alexander Pope, Edith Wharton and M.F.K. Fisher.

However, it is Jackie Bennett’s The Writer’s Garden: How Gardens Inspired Our Best-Loved Authors that stands out. She has produced a wonderful pictorial essay on 20 British authors who loved and were devoted to their gardens. The authors range from Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) and his Shandy Hall and John Clare (1793-1864) and his Heplston to Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and his Gad’s Hill Place and Henry James (1843-1916) and his Lamb House to Roald Dahl (1916-1990) and his Gipsy House and Ted Hughes (1930-1998) and his Lumb Bank.

Bennett provides a smattering of the authors’ biographies, descriptions of their gardens and the impact on the authors’ works and enough photos to make every gardener jealous. The photos of the English countryside make it appear just as you imagine it from reading Jane Austen, the mist, the open spaces, the hills.

There’s the odd tidbit, such as Lamb House originally inhabited by Henry James was later inhabited by the author E. F. Benson or that Roald Dahl had a gypsy caravan on his property. Many of the estates were donated to England’s National Trust and can be visited by tourists. Others are artist’s colonies/retreats, in an effort to maintain the author’s vision.

The appendices include Garden Visiting Information, Source of Quotes and Further Reading. What a great vacation it would be to visit each author’s house and view his/her garden.

If you are at all interested in literature and gardening, this is the book for you. It is no coffee-table book. It is a book to be read, its photos to be viewed again and again.

I’m sure there are more than the 20 British authors mentioned in this book who were interested in gardens. I’d love to see Volume II or a book featuring American authors.

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I must be in the ‘mother recently died’ phase of my reading. LastForeverFirst it was Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw and now it’s The Last Forever by Deb Caletti. Tessa’s mother died three months earlier of cancer. She and her hippy, pot smoking, old tv show watching father, Thomas, are having a rough time of it. The only tangible thing Tessa has from her mother is a rare plant, a pixiebell, that has been kept alive since her grandfather Leopold stole the seed decades ago. Her mother took it everywhere and so will Tessa. She’s determined to keep it alive.

When her father suggests a road trip to the Grand Canyon a week before school ends, Tessa has no recourse but to go. She packs the pixiebell and its flower pot in an old shoe and cushions it well in a box so it won’t get tossed around on the trip. The road trip takes a few extra turns and Tessa and Thomas end up at his mother, Jenny’s house in Parrish Island, WA.

Her father leaves suddenly saying he needs time alone leaving Tessa with a grandmother she hasn’t seen or heard about since she was a toddler. It is certainly awkward.

It is in the Parrish Island library that Tessa meets Henry Lark, who will become the love of her life. It is also in Parrish Island that the pixiebell starts to droop. Tessa and Henry and a cast of several others vow to save the plant.

What did I like about The Last Forever? So many things. Caletti has developed wonderful characters: Tessa and Thomas, Henry, Jenny, the library staff of Sasha and Larry, Jenny’s art class students. The list goes on. They are colorful and caring. If I had to pick a community in which to live, these would be the people I’d like to live amongst.

Second, the library plays a prominent role in the story. As a librarian, that’s heart warming.

Third, every chapter starts with information about a seed. I love gardening and flowers and seeds. They intrigue me. That’s why I’ve read A Garden of Words by Martha Barnette, Who Named the Daisy by Mary Durant and Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales by Marta McDowell. Seeds are fascinating.

FortunesOf IndigoSkyeI learned something from this book. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault does actually exist (you’ll find out how it fits into the story when you read the book). It is located in the permafrost of the mountains of Svalbard, Norway and is dedicated to retaining the diversity of food crops.

And finally, it’s just a fun story. There are twists and turns that keep you reading.HoneyBabySweetheart

I’ve read several of Deb Caletti’s books: The Fortunes of Indigo Skye, The Nature of Jade and Honey, Baby, Sweetheart. I haven’t been disappointed yet.

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