Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

All The Presidents' Gardens by Marta McDowell... A Review

All the Presidents' Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses, How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America by Marta McDowell... The eighteen acres that surround the White House have been an unwitting witness to history—a backdrop for soldiers, suffragettes, protestors, and activists. Kings and queens have dined there; bills and treaties have been signed; and presidents have landed and retreated. The front and back yard for the first family, it is by extension the nation’s first garden. All the Presidents’ Gardens’ tells the untold history of the White House Grounds.  Starting with the seed-collecting, plant-obsessed George Washington and ending with Michelle Obama’s focus on edibles, this rich and compelling narrative reveals how the story of the garden is also the story of America.  Readers learn about Lincoln’s goats, Ike’s putting green, Jackie’s iconic roses, Amy Carter's tree house, and much more. They also learn the plants whose favor has come and gone over the years and the gardeners who have been responsible for it all. Fully illustrated with new and historical photographs and art, refreshingly nonpartisan, and releasing just in time for election year, this is a must-read for anyone interested in the red, white, and green. 

History, Plants, & illustrations! Plus, photographs...If you love gardening, you will enjoy All the President's Gardens! I found it fascinating! I have a journal for 2 of my gardens that I have planted. One was my butterfly and bird garden, and one was what I called the "Pathetic" garden because the soil was a huge challenge. I drew out the way I wanted the gardens to look, recorded plants and took notes on how the plants did. Over the few years that I kept those journals, it was fun to see what worked and what didn't. All the President's Gardens is like my journal except it spans decades, a vast amount of lands, and an amazing array of people. Of course all the presidents and their first ladies are covered, what they did for and to the gardens, but also all the first gardeners too!  The men behind those plantings! Plus a closer look at all those plants and some of the interesting pitfalls and successes that happened planting them.

I read an eGalley of All The Presidents' Gardens and would have loved to actually have a physical book to look through, so I could put post it notes on pages I'd want to refer to again. My other "wish" would be that this would have been a coffee table book! I thought it had to be with all the photographs and historical illustrations. It screamed Coffee Table book to me! But when I just happen to look to see what size the book was going to be published in, Amazon said it was going to be 6.6 x 9.1, which is larger than a trade paperback, but not quite what I was hoping for. But, putting the size aside (because size doesn't really matter, right?!) this would make a welcome addition to any gardeners shelf, any american history readers shelf, and definitely make a great gift! It would also make a great book to read prior to visiting the White House Gardens, which is permitted twice a year! And after reading this book I definitely want to visit the gardens in person! 328 pages, Hardcover and published by Timber Press. Coming April 27th to your bookstore!

My Final Thoughts...What makes this really special is that All The Presidents' Gardens gives us is behind the scene looks at the trends of the day, and how the personalities of the residents shaped the gardens that exist today! I give it 4 garden sheers! (It would have been 5 had it been a coffee table book)  And I want to thank Timber Press for sending along an eGalley for me to read and review!

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