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Showing 1-10 of 20 reviews(5 star). See all 32 reviews
"By retreating farther and farther from nature, we lose our sense of belonging. " ~ pg. 7

Diane Ackerman has created her own oasis of pleasure. She writes about dips in the pool and the pleasure of cutting roses to take them indoors. She loves her apple tree, which also provides fruit for hungry deer. I loved the stories of how she feeds the deer peach slices and corn. There are also humorous tales about rabbits and squirrels.

This book truly celebrates the seasons. Diane Ackerman writes with an intoxicating sensuality that is also intellectual. While you are learning about her garden she weaves in stories from mythology. Her inquisitive mind often leads her down various paths of knowledge to teach you something a little different or to make you laugh. I was interested in learning about passionflower leaves and how they contain cyanide. Definitely not something you want to put in a salad. She talks about topiaries in the shape of mermaids and at times gets lost in a discussion of a favorite book. I also liked her tips on garden etiquette.

Each season is described with a poet's heart and Diane Ackerman's passion for roses does border on obsession. We soon learn she has 120 rose bushes and there is no need for pictures because she paints descriptions that vividly bring the imagination to life. When she is not consumed by all her garden requires, she is found at farmer's markets or riding her bike. During one trip out in her car she suddenly contemplates life and death and seems deep in thought. She also only briefly discusses the darker sides of nature, like the day she found a bird's nest (in a bird house) had fallen in her yard.

"Cultivating Delight" reminded me of my grandmother's garden with an apple tree and a beautiful row of rose bushes. While sweeping leaves off my deck I could not help but think about what I should plant this spring. As a bonus, Diane gives a full inventory of her garden so you can literally recreate her experience.

~The Rebecca Review
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on December 1, 2012
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 . I am also a serious gardener, so Diane offers many interesting observations that I greatly appreciate. I bought these new books of hers to give to my daughter and granddaughter, who also find them delightful.
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on January 15, 2017
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on August 25, 2015
A delight for anyone who treasures their garden or who loves gardening.
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on November 27, 2012
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 .
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on October 21, 2007
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. So she turned to writing this wonderful "diary" about her daily life, focusing on her garden.

As a gardener myself, I could identify with her ongoing war- battling weeds and insects. She also comments on the cycle of nature, from the triumph of lush blooms during the spring and summer, and the approach of fall and the dormancy of the winter months. She describes the bird life in her backyard, from the mating rituals to the hatching of new born baby birds, and the sadness of seeing predators attacking the nests as the battle of survival between species.

My one wish was to see actual photographs of her garden, as I strove to picture in my mind what her rose garden looked like with all the varieties and quantities of the roses she planted. I also could relate to her description of people who would surreptitiously sneak a cutting of a plant or bloom, thieves who go around with scissors or gardening shears to plunder someone's garden. I once observed a lady who lived down the street stop and cut blooms from my own garden as I watched dumbfounded!

I love the way Ms. Ackerman writes. It's not to everyone's liking, but when I read her books I feel like she's talking to me. It is her personal style, and though many complain of her jumping around from topic to topic without finishing a complete thought, I find her mind works like mine. One thought you might have involves into another, and her stream of consciousness follows very closely like the way my own thoughts run.

Ms. Ackerman writes about her experiences and I find myself captivated by her extraordinary ability to weave a common thread through her work.
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on December 20, 2001
Ackerman displays a naturalist's powers of close observation, a poet's exquisite language and adoring heart, and a philosopher's unsentimental intelligence. One haunting chapter begins with the author discovering a birdhouse lying on the grass, its inhabitants gone, and in the following four pages she explores mortality, vulnerability, terror, and feelings of "horizonless sadness."
Life feels so full and continuous each day," she writes, "and then without any warning, despite all the relationships, appointments, investments of time and emotion, it can vanish, leaving only a lull where a life was." She ends the chapter in a hopeful vein, noting that "a vital part of gardening is learning to trust change."
Ackerman is as intimate with the wildlife that visits her garden as with the sumptuous palette of plants she uses. Her description is often completely fresh: Roses, for example, "mumble scent." She characterizes the ambiguous color of her favorite rose, 'Abraham Darby', as variously "orangey-cream tinged with pink," "a lightly stirred mix of apricot, pink and yellow" and "sunrise colored." Her memory of this particular rose's "sense-drenched smell" in winter leads to a brilliant sketch of famed gardener and author Gertrude Jekyll. She writes that Jekyll "had a breathtaking gift for sensuality." The same can be said of Ackerman.
There are also wonderful cameos of Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Muir, as well as Johnny Appleseed. Ackerman displays a genius for using her experiences in her garden as well as her tenacious, omnivorous intellect to get to the heart of delight.
I plan to begin rereading Cultivating Delight in January, savoring a chapter a week over the year. But I will cheat a little and start my New Year with the brilliant last page, which begins, "I want time to pool, not race, but tonight I'm madly impatient for the growing season to begin." It ends with the words "...and the air tastes green at last."
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on October 14, 2007
What a remarkable account of one's love for gardening. This is quite an inspiring book for anyone interested especially in gardening. Also, it is an introduction to those who are not familiar with the gardens and nature and would like to be.

I can relate to all Ms. Ackerman, the author, is involved with. It was a friend who introduced this wonderful and uplifting book. It just makes my day and night as a few paragraphs are read prior to the end of my day. What creation as to offer is breathtaking and so rewarding.
I hope you will enjoy as much as I did and continuing.

In sharing my purchases with others, I find it a special gift like not other. I know they will feel the same way I do.

Thank you, Ms. Ackerman.
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on April 15, 2002
Smart, witty, informed, observant, funny, practical, and powerfully moving-- Ackerman combines all of these qualities in a book that's both superb natural history and stylish literature. As a scientist, I'm continually amazed by Ackerman's scrupulousness. As a gardener, I'm impressed by her inventiveness (I'm going to try some of her strategies this season). As a lover of literature, I find myself rereading poetic passages of unbelievable beauty. This is one of my favorite books on any subject, because it's brimming with her trademark-- a fascinating sensibility, who loves and is endlessly curious about the natural world, while keeping an equally fascinated eye on the human condition. All that combined with the soul of a poet. In short, a literary treasure.
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on December 30, 2001
Poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman loves her garden. It must be a fairly untidy, eclectic garden as she enjoys many weeds, welcomes deer and generally works hard to let nature have its way. Running through the span of seasons, this wonderful book allows many discursive, delightful riffs on such topics as John Muir, tagging squirels, the passing of time, moon and bird watching, and sick houses. It would be a great fun to spend time with her: deadheading asters, learning the different scents of her 100+ roses, and flowering arranging every spring and summer morning. But failing that opportunity, spending time with this garden book that's not a garden book, poem that is not a poem, essay on natural history that's certainly not an essay is almost as fun!
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