Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life by Marta McDowell 

The latest addition to my library is a wonderful new volume called Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life written by Marta McDowell and published by Timber Press.  This unique book explores the garden as a catalyst for Potter's creative work and chronicles in detail the many plants that inhabited her world.

Beautifully written, it reads like a novel while also providing biographical research, historical detail and a seasonal tour of her garden as it may have existed in the past and as it exists today.  Part biography, garden journal and travel guide, McDowell has captured the many aspects of Potter's garden inspiration and her evolving passion for plants in this well-researched book.

Part One reflects upon Beatrix Potter's gardening experience and how it was shaped throughout her life.  An early fascination with plants leading to a later ability to illustrate them in her stories is covered in this section, as are the many gardens and settings that influenced her work.  Informed with rich biographical detail, it provides a glimpse into Potter's life and her love of the natural world.

Part Two chronicles a year in her garden reimagined season by season through her writing, artwork and photographs.  This section serves as a garden journal, weaving together quotations from Potter's writings to illustrate the natural beauty of the garden at different times of year.  There are also many current photographs of the gardens at Hill Top Farm in England's Lake District, the estate where she once lived.

Part Three provides a travelogue of Beatrix Potter's world.  Here we encounter the gardens of her youth, explore the Lake District and the many places that influenced her study of nature.   We also visit The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, a site devoted to celebrating her life and stories.  There a scarecrow in rabbit's clothing from The Tale of Peter Rabbit adorns a reconstruction of Mr. McGregor's garden, shown below.

For more information about Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life, please visit the publisher's website.  

Pages from Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life by Marta McDowell

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  1. I echo your sentiments Lisa! I love this book - I received it as a birthday gift last December and I devoured it within the weekend!

    1. Yes, this book is hard to put down and the small size made it perfect for me to pack in my handbag and read on the go. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Thank you Lisa for introducing us to this book - I have ordered a copy and am really looking forward to reading it. Beatrix Potter played a large part in both my childhood and that of my children. We have spent a lot of time in the Lake District and had many trips to The World of Beatrix Potter. Funnily enough, having moved to Suffolk,which is quite far south, I am now very close to Melford Hall, which is another place associated with Beatrix Potter. She stayed at the Hall for holidays and there are some of her original sketches on display there.

    1. How wonderful it must be to live near Beatrix Potter territory! There is so much beauty in her world. I think you will enjoy the book. It is much more garden-centered than others I've read about her. Good to hear from you!


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