Garden Reading: Emily Dickinson’s Gardens

Now that I am retired, I’m spending more and more time in my garden. I started my garden blog as an online journal for myself and family. Now I’ve decided to open it up and share it with those of you who love gardening, too. If you find me missing from my book blog…you will most likely find me on my garden blog. I’d love to meet you there!

[The following review was published on my garden blog. I reposted it here, but something happened and it never showed up! Rusty blogging skills?] So here it is, reposted. Again.

Emily_Dickinsons_Gardens

During the hot afternoons of the last few days, I completely immersed myself in a lovely book– Emily Dickinson’s Gardens: A Celebration of a Poet and Gardener, by Marta McDowell. I love poetry, and I love reading about the gardens of the great gardeners, so this was the perfect choice for me. And to add depth to this immersion, I pulled from my bookshelf my volume of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, as well as another beautiful little book for young people, Emily Dickinson: A Brighter Garden, with some of her poems illustrated by the wonderful artist (and gardener), Tasha Tudor. What a lovely way to spend my heat-wave afternoons!

The “Belle of Amherst” was a brilliant poet who drew much of her inspiration from nature and from her garden, in particular. Her love for flowers and for gardening started very young, as did her love for words and poetry. As a teenager, she put together a very impressive “herbarium,” a collection of dried and pressed plants, all beautifully organized and identified by their Latin names. She loved spending time in her family’s gardens and in the meadows and woods adjacent to the family homestead.

During her lifetime, Emily DIckinson was known as a gifted gardener. Not everyone knew that she also wrote poetry, although she shared many of her poems with friends and family. Very few of her poems were published during her lifetime, and no one knew the extent of her writing until after her death when her sister, Lavinia, discovered almost 1,800 poems tucked away in a drawer.

This book was organized by the seasons of the year, and included descriptions of the plants that were grown in Emily’s garden each season, and poems that were inspired by those plants or by the season. A lovely combination! The author, Marta McDowell, is herself a gardener, so she lovingly included how-to information and special tips for other gardeners.

The mix of very interesting biography, descriptions of Emily Dickinson’s gardens with beautiful poetry interspersed, and very helpful gardening advice made the book a pleasure to read and a wonderful learning experience.

The beautiful illustrations below are by Tasha Tudor from Emily Dickinson: A Brighter Garden.

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Garden Reading

August, so far, seems to be one of those times when I can’t settle into reading just one book. I’m currently reading 4 different ones! How crazy is that? But I keep going back to one book in particular, on my Kindle, and I’m enjoying it very much. I think it reflects where I’m spending much of my time (in my garden) as well as where I really want to put my reading efforts! Here it is:

Emily DIckinson

Summer Heat and Reading

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We are in the middle of a rather miserable heat wave here in Oregon. Yesterday, the temperature rose to 104 degrees Fahrenheit in our town. Today will be “cooler”, perhaps only getting up to 102 degrees. That’s much too hot for outdoor activity, so I intend to stay indoors this afternoon, in a much cooler spot: my new reading/knitting corner.

Knitting project: taking out about six more rows of the project I’m working on after discovering that the second skein of yarn is actually NOT the same weight as the first!

Reading: Listening to the audiobook version of Jimmy Carter’s new book, A Full Life, Reflections at Ninety.

A Full Life

 

My Favorite So Far

On our walk around town this morning, we found another Little Free Library! This town is full of them now!  But we also found a very special, slightly different, sharing box. This one is my favorite so far!

Sharing poems...

Sharing poems…

Poems

Bubo, the Great Horned Owl

Photo from the San Diego Zoo website. Click on the photo to visit their wonderful site!

Photo from the San Diego Zoo website. Click on the photo to visit their wonderful site!

My family is fascinated with birds of all kinds, but especially with owls!  We have learned so much by watching the web cams of nesting birds this summer.  In March, we followed an owl family in Northern California (click here to read my post), but then we found the Texas Barn Owls cam on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site, and we’ve watched them all summer long. Fascinating!

Barn Owl

Barn Owl on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web cam. Click on the photo to visit the site!

One of my favorite publishing groups, Open Road Media, has recently published a wonderful series of e-books by the award-winning naturalist/author, Jean Craighead George, who wrote Julie of the Wolves, and whom I admire a lot. This series of books for young people (of all ages!) is called “American Woodland Tales,” and each book focuses on a different animal from the woodlands. Of course, I chose to start the series by reading Bubo, the Great Horned Owl, because I actually saw a Great Horned Owl once, and it was a thrilling experience! This little book is beautifully written and so interesting. I look forward to reading all the others in the series!

Bubo, the Great Horned Owl

Mutiny on the Bounty

Mutiny on the Bounty was a book I first read as a young teenager and loved! The series was quite a story, quite an amazing true-life adventure! I remember being completely lost in the three books one summer long ago.  Mutiny on the Bounty was followed by Men Against the Sea, and then by Pitcairn’s Island, all written by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. Great summer reads! (There is also a children’s version of this story, called The Mutiny on the Bounty, by Patrick O’Brien. Click here to read my review.)

Mutiny on the Bounty

Small Town Reading

Another Little Free Library

Okay…I’ve been posting about all the “Little Free Libraries” that have just recently started popping up in our town, excited that I live in a town full of readers. This morning on our walk we ran into another new one in the neighborhood! As always, I photographed it and checked out the books inside, and much to my surprise, I found a book that I had just donated to our local library last Friday! I know it was mine because I pulled it our and looked inside and found this bookmark that I’d forgotten to remove before I donated it. I’m wondering if this “Little Free Library” was built by one of our librarians or library volunteers? And I’m very pleased that my donations are finding new life in the town’s libraries both big and small!

bookmark2