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Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden Paperback – October 1, 2002
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In her popular book A Natural History of the Senses, Ackerman celebrates the human body; in A Natural History of My Garden, she turns her attention to the world outside the body, outside the human sphere. Structured by seasons, this is a book of subtle shifts, but the reader never feels lost. Her prose is so welcoming, at times it feels like she's talking directly to you, although her lush, poetic language is the opposite of speech.
Distracted urban readers craving a book that will transport them would do well to spend time immersed in these pages, as will gardeners who've lost appreciation for their plot. Ackerman is a generous writer--a teacher who will share treasured, obscure passages from Beckett or Hawthorne. She's emotional and highly charged, and her descriptions are so clear they're small marvels. She's remarkable for her ability to find mystery everywhere. --Emily White --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
For example, in one essay she begins by describing her feelings upon seeing a sick raccoon stagger across her yard in broad daylight. She calls the local animal welfare people to look into it. Then she turns to describing her feelings and reactions to the other elements of her garden. I was left wondering what happened to the raccoon. She never told me.
If you are looking for Diane Ackerman's personal reactions to nature, this may be for you. But I was looking for some good winter reading about nature itself, for when I miss my garden. At the same time I ordered this book, I also ordered a book by Sy Montgomery called "The Curious Naturalist: Nature's Everyday Mysteries". I just chose it by searching for such books on Amazon[.com]. It turns out that Sy Montgomery was the nature columnist for the Boston Globe, and her essays are delightful, concise, amazing and informative. I didn't learn much about the interior life of the author, but I learned the most amazing things about the nature all around me. I read about the messages that singing insects send in the autumn evenings and how they create their songs; the messages in spider webs; the peculiar life-giving structure of water; the way sound travels over snow in winter. Most delightful of all, the author describes ways of interacting with our animal brothers and sisters.Read more ›
Ackerman lives and gardens in Ithaca New York, home of Cornell University and one of the most beautiful and idyllic college towns in the United States. In her book, Ackerman describes her life of privilage: swimming in her backyard pool with friends; riding her bike around town, along the lake, or into the countryside; collecting roses from her many and various garden beds (1,500 roses over the summer); resting in the bay window of her study to watch wrens house hunt and breed or hummingbirds whom she has named Ruby and Gizmo stop by for a snack from one of the various feeders she has hung; shopping at craft fairs; stopping by the garden center; and myriad other tasks.
Ackerman uses the four seasons to stucture her book--an overworked device that fails (A NATURAL HISTORY OF THE SENSES was much better organized). A few passages are good--she's somewhat eloquent when it comes to describing birds--but mostly I found her writing irritating and repetitive. She too frequently makes use of cliched phrases and/or awkward metaphors. As an avid reader of books on gardening and nature, I found her thoughts unoriginal and uninspiring.
I recommend one consider resisting the beautiful cover of this book (which is relatively original and apparently matches the colors in the wall paper in Ms. Ackerman's study), and read THE INVITING GARDEN by Allen Lacy. Or if you are looking for book on gardening that is truly profound, try Jim Nollman's book, WHY WE GARDEN.
But I love reading about people who DO enjoy gardening, and Diane Ackerman is a consummate writer on the subject. I've read The Moon by Whale Light and A Natural History of the Senses, two others of her several books, and find myself equally charmed by this one. It's a casual tour through the four seasons of her upstate backyard garden. But, as she's a naturalist, a poet, and a philosopher, she doesn't stop with just the plants; she uses the plants and their interdependent roles as metaphors to browse mentally through a wide variety of topics, including what gardens can do for people more than how people can tend a garden. It's like a role reversal of sorts. Some of the subjects that her free- and far-ranging mind roams over include: how we are like plants, plant's self-defense mechanisms, why we see faces in nature, etc. Her lyrical writing and vast, encyclopedic curiosity sometimes remind me of Annie Dillard's nature writing, a comparison that should be considered a compliment to both authors.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A delight for anyone who treasures their garden or who loves gardening.Published 11 months ago by Nelson R. Eldred
This is not a well-written book. It is a hodge-podge of under-developed, unsophisticated observations, loosely strung together by a theme of what the author witnesses throughout... Read morePublished 14 months ago by L. Byrne
I have enjoyed Diane's books. The Natural History of the Senses is the first one I read. Gets you to stop and pay attention. Fun read.Published on April 26, 2013 by BUMWHISTLE
30 + pages were missing from the book. It was very disappointing and I lost interest in the book as a wholePublished on December 21, 2012 by shirley sandberg
I have had this book for a few years. I keep it on my night stand and read and reread it. Her words are wonderful, so informing and truly cultivate delight . Read morePublished on December 1, 2012 by Sharon L. Arthur
I keep this book where I can pick it up when I just need to relax and remember what a joy our gardens can be .Published on November 27, 2012 by VZ
I have seldom come across such an amalgamation of misinformation, silliness and self-absorption as this writing contains. Read morePublished on July 22, 2009 by T. Culver
"By retreating farther and farther from nature, we lose our sense of belonging. " ~ pg. 7
Diane Ackerman has created her own oasis of pleasure. Read more
Diane Ackerman wrote this book during her convalescence from a knee injury. Being a very active person, she was frustrated by her inability to do her usual routines. Read morePublished on October 21, 2007 by Brenda Savage-Knight