“My garden is an honest place. Every tree and every vine are incapable of concealment, and tell after two or three months exactly what sort of treatment they have had.” This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of more than 400 in “The Quotable Gardener” by Charles Elliott.
The collection includes insights and humor about gardening from a wide range of writers. Jane Austen, George Eliot and P.G. Wodehouse are represented as are the Book of Genesis and Horticulture Magazine. It seems nearly any comment about gardening in recorded literature is in this book, the perusing of which might be a wonderful way to spend time during cold winter months.
Another idea for gift giving might be “The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden” by Stanley Kunitz. Former U.S. poet laureate and gardener, Kunitz – who died in 2006 – saw the garden as a source of renewal and solace, particularly after a health scare in 2003. The book includes essays, conversations, poems and a couple dozen color photographs. In the book, which received a 2006 American Horticultural Society Book Award, Kunitz described how he viewed the relationship between gardening and poetry: "I conceived of the garden as a poem in stanzas. Each terrace contributes to the garden as a whole in the same way each stanza in a poem has a life of its own."
For a different literary track, consider the relatively new book “The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables: The Enchanting Island that Inspired L. M. Montgomery” by Catherine Reid. Whether you fell in love with Anne of Green Gables by reading the novel that has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide or by watching the Netflix show, you will enjoy the stunning photos of gardens and shores, illustrations from the original 1908 edition of the timeless classic and beautiful prose taken from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books, notes and journals.
Anne and Montgomery shared similar life experiences, and this book relates the parallels in how the fictional Anne and her creator found a way to rally from setbacks by turning toward nature.
Another classic book is revisited in Marta McDowell’s “The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House Books.” Winner of the Garden Writers Association 2018 Silver Medal of Achievement, McDowell’s book explores the deep relationship with landscape that Wilder loved and wrote about in her many Little House books. The book even includes a list of plants that Laura Ingalls Wilder knew and grew, and where they were mentioned in her writings.
My own appreciation for plants, animals and landscapes may very well stem from voracious childhood reading of all six “Anne of…” and eight “Little House” books. Revisiting those landscapes through these books is a gift in itself.