BOOK REVIEW — Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Iconic Poet by Marta McDowell (2019) published by Timber Press. Nonfiction.

Quick Summary: High-quality photos, design, layout + jam packed with info about Dickinson, gardens, flowers, literature and poetry. Extensively researched by an expert gardener; this book is most about Dickinson’s influences for literary/poetic analysis. It’s not a gardening tip book in this way, but perfect for nature enthusiasts or fans of Dickinson. See slides on Instagram (@ahomelibrary) for examples of pages.

“Emily Dickinson was a keen observer of the natural world, but less well known is the fact that she was also an avid gardener. Tracing a year in the garden, the book reveals details few know about Dickinson and adds to our collective understanding of who she was as a person. By weaving together Dickinson’s poems, excerpts from letters, contemporary and historical photography, and botanical art, McDowell offers an enchanting new perspective on one of America’s most celebrated but enigmatic literary figures.”


I love plants, and I love gardens… and I love literature… and I love Emily Dickinson. Combined, I am very happy. So, I found this book to be:

1) highly informative: the extensive research that went into this is obvious, gives a lot of validity to the analysis;

2) beautiful/visually appealing: I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful pictures, botany photography, the design and layout of this book. I would describe this book as “collectible,” as indicated by its high quality of research and visual appeal, it would make a good addition of a home library;

3) Literary Value: I believe I gained some insight on Dickinson’s life and the influences impacting her. At the very least, I was able to see someone else’s perspective on Dickinson’s work, and then from there, I expanded my own understandings. I don’t know everything about authors or their work… so, I find that reading books done like this (not highly academic but facts based) is helpful.

Recommended for: gardening/flower/botany/plant enthusiasts, literary/poetry or Dickinson enthusiasts. Currently has 4.16 ⭐️ rating on GR.