Becoming a Gardener: What Reading and Digging Taught Me About Living (Hardcover)
A beautifully designed, full-color personal account of what it means to become a gardener, filled with specially commissioned color photography, watercolors, and fine art.
To make her new house in Connecticut truly feel like home, Catie Marron decided to create a garden. But while she was familiar with landscape design, she had never grown anything. A dedicated reader with a lifelong passion for literature, Marron turned to the library of gardening books she’d collected to glean advice from a variety of writers on gardening and horticultural topics both grand and small.
Marron’s quest to become a gardener, however, was about more than learning the basics about mulch or which plants work best in the shade. She sought something far more elusive: to identify the core qualities and characteristics that make a person a gardener and an understanding of what a garden could mean to her as it had to multitudes of other gardeners over the centuries.
In Becoming a Gardener, Catie Marron chronicles her transformation into a gardener over the course of eighteen months, seeding the details of her experience with rich advice from writers as diverse as Eleanor Perényi and Karel Capek, Penelope Lively, and Jamaica Kincaid. As she digs deeper into her readings and works in the garden itself, Marron not only discovers the essence of gardening but in the words of Michael Pollan, “the endlessly engrossing ways that cultivating a garden attaches a body to the earth.”
A delightful blend of informed opinion, personal reflection, and practical advice, Becoming a Gardener explores topics as varied as the composition of dirt, the agricultural wisdom of avid kitchen gardeners George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, the healing power of digging in the soil, and the beauty of finding solitude in nature. Throughout, Marron carefully plants special illustrated features, such as musings on the merits (and detriments) of the rose, essential tools, moonlight gardening, children’s books which feature gardens, and her favorite gardens around the world. Also included is an annotated list of recommended writers, books, and films related to gardens and gardening, and a monthly to-do calendar.
Featuring specially commissioned illustrations by the Danish team All the Way to Paris, and stunning photographs by acclaimed photographer William Abranowicz that capture the pastoral beauty of Marron’s Connecticut garden, Becoming a Gardener is a very special and moving portrait of life and the enduring power of literature and nature that is sure to become an instant classic.
Catie Marron is the creator and editor of two anthologies published by HarperCollins which explore the value and significance of urban public spaces: City Squares, Eighteen Writers on the Spirit and Significance of Squares Around the World (2016), and City Parks: Public Places, Private Thoughts (2013). She is currently working on a third book for HarperCollins, which centers on how gardens and the process of their creation enrich lives.
Marron’s career has encompassed investment banking, magazine journalism, public service, and book publishing. She is currently a trustee and Chair Emeritus of The New York Public Library, where she was Chairman of the Board from 2004 to 2011. Marron is also a trustee of Friends of the High Line, where she was also Board Chair, and a trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Marron began her first career in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and then at Lehman Brothers. She then became Senior Features Editor at Vogue, where she has been a contributing editor for twenty years. While writing her books, Marron launched Good Companies, a curated, online guide to companies that strive to do good while also making a profit. This venture was shaped in part by the success of Treasure & Bond, a pop-up store that she co-founded with Nordstrom and Anna Wintour in 2011. All of the store’s profits went to charities benefiting NYC children.
"Like so many others, especially during the awful times of the pandemic, [Marron] came to understand the peace and solace of working one’s own plot of soil: “As Alfred Austin, the poet laureate of Britain from 1896 to 1913, once wrote, ‘We come from the earth, we return to the earth, and in between we garden.’ ” — Wall Street Journal