Reading: Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life

Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell, Timber Press 2019 hardcover

In these stressful times, something peaceful is nice. I know this isn’t for everyone, but I enjoy gardening, and Dickinson’s poetry, so it was a natural for me. I had it on a wish list, and received it for Christmas, and have been dipping into it now and then. Lately I’ve been spending more time with it and now I’m finished.

Dickinson lived in Amherst, MA her entire life, her father an attorney there and part founder of Amherst College, now part of the University of Massachusetts system.

The book is devoted to the home and gardens, with poetic pieces inserted, describing the flowers, shrubs and trees, thereon.

I’ve enjoyed both the historical perspective of the times and locations, as well as photographs of the area and the gardens. The poems are a bonus. Very relaxing and enjoyable.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Non-fiction, reference. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Reading: Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life

  1. Cap'n Bob Napier says:

    I wish I’d met her. She was so secretive.

    • That she was, Bob. In her later years she never left her families’ property. Sort of like us during this Coronavirus thing, only for years. She was a passionate gardener.

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Have never read her and only know the most well-known of facts about her, plus I don’t read poetry.

    I read the new Julia Spencer-Fleming – to me, as an aside, not a good title as I always forget what it is and have to look it up every time, but maybe that’s just me. Hid From Our Eyes is the title. It has been over 6 years since the last Adirondack mystery about Rev. Clare Fergusson and her now husband, Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne. I remember reading at least one negative review when this first came out, but it was a well plotted, fast moving, and welcome return to some favorite characters, and I hope she can manage to get the next book out a lot quicker, as she left some major threads hanging. Definitely recommended to fans of the series.

    Currently reading the third in John Scalzi’s Interdependency trilogy, The Last Emperox, but have not read enough to say more than I like the snarkiness of the series, and the frequent use of obscenities doesn’t bother me as they fit the characters.

    Also reading Stephen King’s latest collection of (relatively) short fiction, If It Bleeds. King still knows how to grab readers, and if you don’t want to commit to 500+ pages, these 100 page novellas may suit you better. I’m enjoying it so far (the first story).

    • You may have read my not so positive review of the Spencer-Fleming. I was disappointed in it. I also reviewed the Scalzi trilogy here, and had the same reaction. Not being a horror fan, I don’t read King, but Barbara does, when the library is open.

  3. Patti Abbott says:

    You may also like May Sarton’s books about making her garden. PLANT DREAMING DEEP stands out as one of them. I know I have read other books about this topic. Will try to remember them.

  4. Patti Abbott says:

    Life in the Garden, Penelope Lively and Derek Jarman’s Garden by Derek Jarman. This is a favorite topic for me.

  5. This looks like an intriguing book. I’ll have to track down a copy! Like Jeff, I’m about to read IF IT BLEEDS by Stephen King. I’ve always thought King was better in shorter lengths than his massive novels.

  6. tracybham says:

    I have read and enjoyed Dickenson’s poems but not read many recently. And I did not know she loved gardening but it makes sense. This might be a good way to get back to reading her poetry. Thanks for sharing this.

    Did you see my email response that the books with short stories had come? They are much appreciated. I have added a prompt for the Clarkesworld anthology on my Venture Forth post.

  7. Steven Sarafian says:

    I am a graduate of Amherst College–which is a private college of good repute not connected to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. My fraternity was just two doors down from the Emily Dickinson house and I have been to that house and seen her bedroom, including her tiny writing table.
    By the way the Fraternity’s most famous brother was Calvin Coolidge, who was elected Vice-President 100 years ago this coming November and is known for various strong speeches and letters denouncing racial bigotry.

  8. I haven’t read a lot of Dickinson poetry, but I’ve liked what I have read. I bought a lovely collection of her poetry from the Nelson-Atkins art gallery here in KC several years ago, from the gallery store, because the art that accompanied it was so appealing.

    I’m not much of a gardener or yard person myself, however I still love the romantic ideal of it all, and thus love watching gardening/landscaping shows and love reading stories about people who pack it all in to go to the country to farm, garden, or both.

    • Carl, we find gardening soothes our soul. Working with the soil, plants, nurturing and caring for things is very rewarding to us. We spent a couple of hours today, me trimming back one of our Rhododendron shrubs (R. Vulcan), so we get strong new growth and flowering next Spring. Gardening is planning ahead, always.

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