Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden

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9780060199869: Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden

In the mode of her esteemed bestseller A Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman's new book, Cultivating Delight celebrates the sensory pleasures she discovers in her garden.

Ackerman delights in her garden through all the seasons. Whether she is deadheading flowers or glorying in the profusion of roses, offering sugar water to a hummingbird or studying the slug, she welcomes the unexpected drama and extravagance as well as the sanctuary her garden offers. She chronicles instances of violence in nature but also intuits loneliness and desire in the clamor of male crickets in the spring. And there is wonderment and marvel as she happens upon a tiny frog asleep inside the petals of a tulip. Visitors to her garden range from botanical explorers of earlier centuries to the nature mystic John Muir to the brilliant British garden writer Gertrude Jekyll.

The author's garden nourishes its creator, who imaginatively returns the favor and seizes privileged moments to leap from science and metaphor to meditation on the human condition. Written in sensuous, lyrical prose, Cultivating Delight is a hymn to nature and to the pleasure we take in it.

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Review:

Diane Ackerman relishes the world of her garden. As a poet, she finds within it an endless field of metaphors. As a naturalist, she notices each small, miraculous detail: the hummingbirds and their routines, the showy tulips, the crazy yellow forsythia. Of visiting deer she writes, "I love watching the deer, which always arrive like magic or a miracle or the answer to an unasked question."

In her popular book A Natural History of the Senses, Ackerman celebrates the human body; in A Natural History of My Garden, she turns her attention to the world outside the body, outside the human sphere. Structured by seasons, this is a book of subtle shifts, but the reader never feels lost. Her prose is so welcoming, at times it feels like she's talking directly to you, although her lush, poetic language is the opposite of speech.

Distracted urban readers craving a book that will transport them would do well to spend time immersed in these pages, as will gardeners who've lost appreciation for their plot. Ackerman is a generous writer--a teacher who will share treasured, obscure passages from Beckett or Hawthorne. She's emotional and highly charged, and her descriptions are so clear they're small marvels. She's remarkable for her ability to find mystery everywhere. --Emily White

About the Author:

Poet, essayist, and naturalist, Diane Ackerman is the author of many highly acclaimed works of nonfiction, including A Natural History of the Senses -- a book beloved by readers all over the worldand the volumes Deep Play, A Slender Thread, The Rarest of the Rare, A Natural History of Love, The Moon by Whale Light, and a memoir on flying, On Extended Wings.

Her poetry has been collected into six volumes, among them Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems and, most recently, Praise My Destroyer.

Ms. Ackerman has received many prizes and awards, including the John Burroughs Nature Award and the Lavan Poetry Prize. A Visiting Professor at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, she was the National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Professor at the University of Richmond. Ms. Ackerman also has the unusual distinction of having had a molecule named after her -- dianeackerone. She lives in upstate New York.

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