Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell

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Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life

The plants and places that inspired the children's tales

Marta McDowell

Pages: 340

The New York Times - Anne Raver
“You may well want to buy a copy to keep and several to give friends... the book is a visual delight.”

There aren’t many books more beloved than The Tale of Peter Rabbit and even fewer authors as iconic as Beatrix Potter. More than 150 million copies of her books have sold worldwide and interest in her work and life remains high. And her characters—Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck, and all the rest—exist in a charmed world filled with flowers and gardens. Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life is the first book to explore the origins of Beatrix Potter’s love of gardening and plants and show how this passion came to be reflected in her work. The book begins with a gardener’s biography, highlighting the key moments and places throughout her life that helped define her, including her home Hill Top Farm in England's Lake District. Next, the reader follows Beatrix Potter through a year in her garden, with a season-by-season overview of what is blooming that truly brings her gardens alive. The book culminates in a traveler’s guide, with information on how and where to visit Potter’s gardens today.


 
Carol's Rating: ★★★★★

I LOVE THIS BOOK!  It's an enchanting, lovely book loaded with Beaxtrix Potter's beautiful watercolor paintings and photographs that chronicle her life and the strong influence of gardens and nature in it.

It's divided into three parts; the first, about Beatrix's life, the second about the seasons in her gardens, and third is a travelogue-like take of visiting her home(s) today that also identifies what has changed and what hasn't. Lastly, the back of the book contains tables about the plants in her gardens.

This is a book to be cherished. It is a delight and one that I not only go back to time and again but one I often give as gifts to my friends.

New Words and Other Cool Stuff!

 

Vocabulary

1).  "I do not often consider the stars," she wrote in her journal, "they give me a tissick." pg. 49

Tissick:  used to describe a tickly cough.  This was the only definition I could find for this word, which appears to be outdated and with several different spellings.

2).  "In the course of the familial peregrinations, Beatrix Potter began to appreciate gardens in a new way." pg. 44

Peregrinations: a late middle English noun meaning to travel from one place to another, especially on foot; a course of travel; a journey.

 

Charming Images

 

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Official Movie Trailer - Miss Potter

 

Discussion Questions

Source: Heartlandfilm.org

  1. Miss Potter was nervous about city life and dealing with publishers. Once she found out she would be published, she decided to consider this new life an adventure. Have you ever been nervous about doing something new in your life? How did you respond to the new situation? 
  2. Beatrix Potter was 32 when her first book was published. At this age she still had a maid who was always there to chaperone her. How has life changed for women since the Victorian Age? What is dating like for women today and how was dating different for Miss Potter and Mister Warne?
  3. In Potter’s day, a woman being able to support herself was very rare; however, Beatrix Potter had enough money to support herself for the rest of her life. So why were her parents so concerned about her future with Norman?
  4. How did Beatrix Potter begin to recover from her grief over the death of Norman? What are things that you do to pick yourself up after a sad event in life?
  5. Have you ever read the Peter Rabbit series? After viewing this film and learning more about Beatrice Potter’s life, do think about the Peter Rabbit series any differently? Why?
  6. Have you ever dreamt up characters that were so real to you, like Beatrice Potter, that you had to bring them to life through art or creative stories? What inspired the characters you imagined?

Happy Reading!

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