Saturday, February 02, 2008

Book Review: Cultivating Delight

book cover
Looking forward to spring, I am reminded of a wonderful book, Cultivating Delight, by poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman who lyrically brings to us the natural history of her garden and the cyclical changes that take place through the seasons. The author excites the senses with details of flowers, garden inhabitants including bugs, animals and details of her daily observations of garden life. Ackerman writes poetically and descriptively, while including scientific names and observations of flowers and creatures of the garden. She incorporates interesting information from related subject matter including literature, poetry, mythology and trivia which enlivens the reading. She discusses the natural preference for growth in the garden to be of a disorderly fashion, while gardeners have the conflicting preference to create order.

Ackerman describes the season of spring as the time for the garden to awaken. During this time, snowdrops appear and brighten the sleepy landscape. She describes wood frogs, ladybugs and the first hummingbird of the season in colorful language which will interest the gardener, naturalist or general reader. With the sensuality of summer, Ackerman describes the changes in her garden, new garden arrivals, including summer insects and flowers. She includes a discussion of her passion for roses. During autumn and winter, the garden slows and days begin to shorten. She describes the changes in leaf colors as the brilliant oranges, golds and reds make their showing in nature. The change in garden inhabitants is interesting after snow and ice envelopes the landscape. She includes an interesting discussion on the development and shape of snowflakes.

I enjoyed the poetic language and sensual treatment which Ackerman used to describe her garden. I believe you too will enjoy the poetic descriptions and interesting information concerning the natural world. You will learn to appreciate the small everyday changes in nature which make the natural world interesting and beautiful. Whether you enjoy reading about gardening, biology, nature or just enjoy the poetic beauty of life, I know you will love this book. I believe it will open your eyes to things you may have missed before. So, go plant something and you too can enter Diane Ackerman’s magical world in your own garden.

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