Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Iconic Poet

Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Iconic Poet

by Marta McDowell

Hardcover(Second Edition, Revised)

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“A visual treat as well as a literary one, Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life will be deeply satisfying for gardeners and garden lovers, connoisseurs of botanical illustration, and those who seek a deeper understanding of the life and work of Emily Dickinson.” —The Wall Street Journal

Emily Dickinson was a keen observer of the natural world, but less well known is the fact that she was also an avid gardener—sending fresh bouquets to friends, including pressed flowers in her letters, and studying botany at Amherst Academy and Mount Holyoke. At her family home, she tended both a small glass conservatory and a flower garden.
In Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life, award-winning author Marta McDowell explores Dickinson’s deep passion for plants and how it inspired and informed her writing. Tracing a year in the garden, the book reveals details few know about Dickinson and adds to our collective understanding of who she was as a person. By weaving together Dickinson’s poems, excerpts from letters, contemporary and historical photography, and botanical art, McDowell offers an enchanting new perspective on one of America’s most celebrated but enigmatic literary figures.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604698220
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Edition description: Second Edition, Revised
Pages: 268
Sales rank: 130,512
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Marta McDowell lives, gardens, and writes in Chatham, New Jersey. She consults for public gardens and private clients, writes and lectures on gardening topics, and teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden, where she studied landscape design. Her particular interest is in authors and their gardens, the connection between the pen and the trowel.

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Stream Title 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Caroldaz 3 months ago
I have to say that reading this book inspired me to get a book of her poems to read. This book has delightful illustrations. Also, the book has great value just in the historical information it gives about Emily. Many of her poems were linked to flowers and to nature. One of the most fun parts of the book was the chapter about planting a poet’s garden. I would love to do that! I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Gardening and poetry--who could ask for anything more? The visuals in this book help to truly put an image to some of Emily's more intriguing figures of speech. It also gives a glimpse into what life was like in 19th-century New England. The author has clearly done her homework. Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for the digital ARC!
diversified-reader 4 months ago
If you love anything Emily Dickinson, then this book will further your love not only for her poetry, but also her life’s connection to her plants. This book was much more than I anticipated. It was divided into parts: Dickinson’s life as a gardener throughout the seasons and a visitor’s guide to the Museum and the Dickinson landscape. Each part was well written and extremely detailed. It was accompanied by many illustrations and photos which captured the beauty of Dickinson’s love of plants. The author took us back in time as she described Dickinson’s life in Amherst, with family and friends, and her absolute love of botany as evident in her poetry. It was fascinating to learn about Dickinson’s herbarium hobby and how it was in a sense scientific art. After reading this book, I have an even greater appreciation for Emily Dickinson as a person, a writer, and now as a gardener. Highly recommended.
CRSK 4 months ago
3.5 Stars This begins by going through the seasons, opening with Early Spring, and ending with Winter, but separated into more than the four seasons, alone. The author takes you on a literary walk through Amherst and invites you to stand in front of the Homestead, using your imagination to see it as it once was in the mid-1800’s. From here you could see Amherst College and imagine how this landscape appeared those many years ago. Before streetlights, or paved roads, before cars. If you can picture this during a snowy day, you could almost hear the sleigh bells and the sound of the hooves. I love Emily Dickinson’s poetry, and I have loved gardening when I lived in a place where I had space and workable land to garden. I love the artwork, some of which came from books that Emily Dickinson personally owned on gardening, as well as the poetry of Dickinson included in this book. This seemed like it would be a perfect combination. I loved the passion and enthusiasm that McDowell has for both Dickinson’s writing and Dickinson’s passion for poetry and gardening. The writing, especially in the beginning, is passionate, effusive, alternating between the history of Amherst, descriptions of the land, and back to gardens, often including a snippet of Dickinson’s poetry – including her first published poem, a valentine. ”Put down the apple Adam And come away with me So shal’t thou have a pippin From off my Father’s tree!” Included are prints of old portraits, some snippets of Dickinson’s writing, thoughts on gardening, and some advice on gardening. Along with those are descriptions of the changing of the seasons, including the late winter delicacy of fresh maple syrup. What didn’t work as well for me was the writing after the first half, which was more often lovely as this began, but began to stray from inserting a relevant snippet of poetry or words from a letter written that carried the reader along to the feeling that the point was being pressed a bit too much. Still, for those who love Dickinson, and particularly those who love her poetry and love gardening as well, this is worth exploring. As a reference tool for gardening, the illustrations from gardening and seed catalogues of Dickinson’s era add a special charm, and would make a nice gift with the holiday season approaching. Many thanks for the ARC provided by Timber Press
CharJones2525 4 months ago
This gorgeous book is a literary and gardening delight! It uniquely reflects Dickinson’s life through her love of gardening, with lush photos and illustrations, excerpts from her poetry and letters, even ideas for growing a poet’s garden, along with a list of the plants Dickinson actually used in hers. 5/5 Pub Date 01 Oct 2019.   Thanks to the author, Timber Press and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. #EmilyDickinsonsGardeningLife #NetGalley