Stop and Smell the Roses with Jane Austen
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
(Note: This review is of the 2011 edition published by Frances Lincoln Limited, which is hard cover and includes seventy color photographs, twenty-five period drawings, and five garden plans.)
Kitchen gardens, extensive shrubberies, enchanting vistas, labyrinths, gothic seats, hermitages – wouldn’t you just love to live in Jane Austen’s time and have all these natural and picturesque settings surround you? While I love the modern conveniences and freedoms of the twenty-first century, part of me longs to live in a time where a large portion of a family’s food came from their backyard and walking in the garden was an almost daily activity. Spending most of her life in the country, Jane Austen was a great admirer of the outdoors and saw her fair share of beautiful and extensive gardens. Don’t you wish you could do the same? Wouldn’t you just love to go on a walking tour of English period gardens?
Well, if a trip to England or traveling back in time aren’t viable options for you, I would suggest picking up In the Garden with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson. Reading the informative details and facts about different gardens and gazing at the sumptuous and verdant pictures is the next best thing to being there is person! Through these images and descriptions readers can travel to Chawton Cottage, Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth House, Stoneleigh Abbey, and various other scenic locations. The photographs are not only breathtakingly beautiful, but useful in displaying what the text is talking about. The large size and high quality of these photographs are perfect for seeing small details and flowers.
Similar to Tea with Jane Austen, Ms. Wilson organizes her book into five chapters that center on different types of gardens. Readers will observe the charms of cottage gardens, be awed by the splendor of mansion and manor house gardens, understand the limitations of city gardens, and explore the various public gardens and parks that Jane Austen visited. The last chapter, titled, “Re-creating Jane Austen’s Garden,” is a fantastic treat for those of you who desire to emulate the gardens of her time. As a beginner gardener myself (see my little vegetable and herb garden to the left), I was greatly inspired by all of these garden plans. After learning of Jane Austen’s love for syringas (the flowers on the front cover) I greatly desire plant some in my garden!
I immensely enjoyed perusing In the Garden with Jane Austen and greatly appreciate Ms. Wilson’s exhaustive and thorough research. I especially loved that she included gardens that Jane Austen visited and ones that were used in various screen adaptations. If I ever journey to England, this book will be a most instrumental reference! I highly recommend In the Garden with Jane Austen to anyone who has a love of nature and enjoys taking a turn in the garden.