I am a member of the awesome Tenner Debut Group, and it was my turn to do the Tenner’s Top Ten list today, so check it out:
I’m a little ga-ga about flowers and gardens, so spring is my favorite time of year. As a writer and former high school English teacher, I’m also fascinated by the symbolism of gardens. As a gardener, I believe in the magic and healing powers of flowers. So here’s my top ten list of favorite garden books — everything from non-fiction to picture books. Most of them have influenced my life and my writing in one way or another.
1) The Bible – The Garden of Eden is hugely influential throughout Western literature, whatever your spiritual leanings. So when a writer incorporates a garden into her work, she may awaken echoes of a perfect blooming place from which human beings are banished.
2) Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney – This is the picture book I wish I could write (but I really stink at picture books.) Miss Rumphius sets out to do three things in her life: travel the world, settle down by the sea, and make the world more beautiful. She does the last by spreading lupine seeds all over her charming New England town, so she literally makes the town bloom forever, because lupines reseed. (picture book)
3) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – This is the definitive novel on the healing properties of gardens. It’s very Victorian in its telling, but still delightful and heart-warming. (mg novel)
4) Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – If you haven’t read this yet, put it in your beach bag or take it on your next vacation. It’s a delightful story about a magical family garden and how it helps heal two sisters and many others, mostly by eating its herbs and fruits. (novel for adults)
5) The China Garden by Liz Berry – a fun and romantic story about guardians of an ancient garden and its many secrets. A very hot male lead with a motorcycle and some far out mythology. (older YA novel)
6) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – This is not at all an obvious choice, but here’s why: one of the first things Melinda does when she finally starts to speak is to ask her dad for a packet of flower seeds. She also begins to rake away the dead stuff in her front yard to make way for new life, and she spends hours and hours of her freshman year drawing a tree. Major garden symbolism. (YA novel)
7) Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White – A little shameless self-promotion here! The blooms in my novel are magical and healing for Laurel, but not always easy to control. (YA novel)
8) The Gardener by Sarah Stewart – This is another beautifully illustrated book told entirely in letters about how sharing flowers nourishes friendships. Seeds are pretty miraculous, you must admit. (picture book)
9) The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan – A fascinating non-fiction book about the symbiotic relationship between plants and humans. Pollen is best known for The Omnivore’s Dilemma. In this book, he focuses on apples, tulips, pot, and potatoes. This really got my brain cells hopping. (Non-fiction for adults and interested teen readers)
10) Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Cristina Bjork – This beautiful book introduces kids to the relationship between art and gardens, which is another rich topic to explore …. maybe in an upcoming novel! I do have a lovely quote from Georgia O’Keefe in my first novel. (picture book)
What have I left out? Let me know your garden faves, and I hope your day has room for blooms!