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Jane Austen loved a garden. She took a keen interest in flower gardening and kitchen gardening alike. This book strolls through the sorts of gardens that Jane Austen would have known and visited: the gardens of the great estates, cottage gardens, gardens in town, and public gardens and parks. Some of the gardens she owned or knew exist still in some form today; among the gardens highlighted is the restored garden at Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, England, complete with a sample planting plan of the ...
Jane Austen loved a garden. She took a keen interest in flower gardening and kitchen gardening alike. This book strolls through the sorts of gardens that Jane Austen would have known and visited: the gardens of the great estates, cottage gardens, gardens in town, and public gardens and parks. Some of the gardens she owned or knew exist still in some form today; among the gardens highlighted is the restored garden at Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, England, complete with a sample planting plan of the flowers grown there now. The book also includes touring information for gardens featured in film adaptations of the novels. With lush photos, social history, excerpts from the novels, information on her life, and period drawings, this book brings Georgian and Regency gardens and Jane Austen’s world to life. In the Garden with Jane Austen captures the essence and beauty of the traditional English garden. As the heroine of Mansfield Park Fanny Price observes, “To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment.”
As with her previous book, Tea with Jane Austen, Wilson has produced a well-researched work that will appeal to a wider audience than just Jane Austen fans. Period gardeners and garden lore enthusiasts will appreciate this rare overview of the sorts of Georgian and Regency gardens Austen would have known. Wilson's text is a clever combination of quotations from Austen's novels and letters along with information found in the popular gardening and householder manuals of the day. Both flower and kitchen gardens of varying sizes are discussed. Several of the English gardens Austen knew still exist and are highlighted here, supplemented by a listing of gardens featured in recent Austen film adaptations. Advice for re-creating 18th-century gardens with heirloom or modern cultivars is included. Illustrated with lavish color photos, planting plans, and a few charming black-and-white drawings similar to those in Wilson's previous book, this gem may convert those who haven't already succumbed to Austen fever. Recommended for public libraries as well as special collections focused on gardening or Austen.
Posted December 28, 2008
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"To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment." Fanny Price, Mansfield Park, Chapter 9 <BR/><BR/>It seems quite fitting that a quote from Jane Austen's character Fanny Price, who is an astute observer of natural beauty, should open this book with such a succinct statement expressing her delight in being planted on the bench in Sotherton's parkland to enjoy the serene beauty of the green landscape around her. Verdure is not a word that one runs across very often in contemporary writing but we should, because it vividly describes a scene and sensations in one word. It is no leap of the imagination that Fanny's creator Jane Austen gave her such sentiments, for Jane dearly loved nature herself and included references to it and gardening in her novels and letters. <BR/><BR/>Author Kim Wilson must be a Fanny Price too, sensitive and observant to natures beauty as her new book In the Garden With Jane Austen is a verdurous delight, introducing us to Austen's affinity to nature through the gardens she would have experienced in her own homes, family members and public gardens of Georgian and Regency England. This beautiful little volume is packed full of quotes from her novels and letters referencing her characters experiences in the garden and her own love of garden cultivation. It has always appeared to me that some of the best plot development in her novels happened while her characters were walking and I am reminded that her heroine's Elizabeth Bennet, Catherine Morland, and Emma Woodhouse were all proposed to in a garden or on a woodland path. Hmm? Should we take a clue from this ladies and get your men outside? <BR/><BR/>Ms. Wilson has certainly done her research collecting many quotes and antecedents from Austen's novels, letters and family lore effectively placing them in historical context and illustrated with beautiful photographs of the actual locations mentioned. I felt like I was on a personal garden tour of Austen's life as I traveled from the cottage gardens of her home in Steventon and Chawton, to the manor house gardens of her family such as brother Edward at Godersham Park, Goodnestone Park, and Chawton House, and the estate of Stoneleigh Abbey owned by her cousins the Leigh's. We are also treated to views of other famous estates that might have inspired settings in her novels such as Chatsworth House reputed to be the inspiration for Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice and Cottesbrook Hall for Mansfield Park. <BR/><BR/>I must confess a large prejudice in favor of this book even before it was published since it combined two of my passions, Jane Austen and gardening. When I finally had the book in hand, I was happy to discover that the last chapter is devoted to re-creating a Jane Austen inspired garden yourself reminiscent of a Regency or Georgian era. What a fanciful thought that plants that Austen admired can be obtained and grown either in a classic presentation, a few simple pots of garden herbs or her favorite flowering shrub the syringa placed by your front door to remind you everyday that looking upon verdure in the perfect refreshment.<BR/><BR/>Laurel Ann, Austenprose
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