Writing the Garden: A Literary Conversation across Two Centuries

Overview

Gardening, more than most outdoor activities, has always attracted a cult of devotedly literate practitioners; people who like to dig, it would appear, also like to write. And many of them write exceedingly well. In this thoughtful, personal, and embracing consideration of garden writing, garden historian Elizabeth Barlow Rogers selects and discusses the best of these writers. She makes her case by picking delightful examples that span two centuries, arranging the writers by what they did and how they saw ...

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Writing the Garden: A Literary Conversation Across Two Centuries

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Overview

Gardening, more than most outdoor activities, has always attracted a cult of devotedly literate practitioners; people who like to dig, it would appear, also like to write. And many of them write exceedingly well. In this thoughtful, personal, and embracing consideration of garden writing, garden historian Elizabeth Barlow Rogers selects and discusses the best of these writers. She makes her case by picking delightful examples that span two centuries, arranging the writers by what they did and how they saw themselves: nurserymen, foragers, conversationalists, philosophers, humorists, etc. Her discussions and appreciations of these diverse personalities are enhanced and supported by informed appraisals of their talents, obsessions, and idiosyncrasies, and by extensive extracts from their writings. Rogers provides historical background, anecdotal material, and insight into how these garden writers worked. And wherever appropriate, she illustrates her story with images from their books, so you can not only read what they wrote but also see what they were describing. Since gardens are by their very nature ephemeral, these visual clues from the pages of their books, many reproduced in color, are as close as we will come to the originals.

What makes Writing the Garden such a joy to read is that it is not simply a collection of extracts, but real discussions and examinations of the personalities who made their mark on how we design, how we plant, and how we think about what is for many one of life's lasting pleasures. Starting with "Women in the Garden" (Jane Loudon, Fran?ces Garnet Wolseley, and Gertrude Jekyll) and concluding with "Philosophers in the Garden" (Henry David Tho?reau, Michael Pollan, and Allen Lacy), this is a book that encompasses the full sweep of the best garden writing in the English language.

Writing the Garden is co-published by the New York Society Library and the Foundation for Landscape Studies in association with David R. Godine, Publisher.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Published to accompany an exhibit at the New York Society Library, this colloquium offers a delightful introduction to more than 40 classic garden writers. Rogers (Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History), a legendary park preservationist best-known for her work championing the renovation of New York's Central Park, offers thoughtful selections from 200 years of garden writing. There are nurserymen, novelists, humorists, philosophers, statesmen, and journalists in this eclectic group. Some members of this pantheon, such as Thomas Jefferson and Edith Wharton, will be familiar to all readers. Others, such as Beverley Nichols, may be known only to true gardening cognoscenti. All are masters of this literary genre. Rogers provides an intimate and illuminating introduction to each writer, highlighting the special appeal, idiosyncratic perspectives, and delightful charms of each. She has also included photographs and drawings from their original works. This is an appreciation that will pique any garden lover's interest in further reading. (Oct.)
Dominique Browning
The seeds for many a new garden library will be harvested from this slim volume—or it will inspire readers to return to well-worn classics.
—The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567924404
  • Publisher: Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/31/2011
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 700,759
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Barlow Rogers is the president of the Foundation for Landscape Studies. A resident of New York City since 1964, Rogers was the first person to hold the title of Central Park Administrator, and she was the founding president of the Central Park Conservancy. The co-author of Romantic Gardens: Nature, Art, and Landscape Design (Godine, 2010), Rogers has won numerous awards for her work as a writer and landscape preservationist.

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