Wise & Inspiring Nature & Garden Books

By Linda Wiggen Kraft,
Healthy Planet Green & Growing Editor

Winter is coming on. Time to curl up with a book and replenish our deep love of nature. Books filled with wisdom can replenish us and push us into action, inspiring us to be guardians of nature not just gardeners. 

Mary Reynolds is a “reformed” Irish garden designer. Her story is so inspiring, a movie was created about her winning the most prestigious award for garden design in 2002 at the Chelsea Flower Show. Her reformation took place when she moved to the country and saw wild land neighboring her land be bulldozed of all plant and animal life in order to build a house and create a garden. She realized this is exactly what she had done before. Her new book, We are The ARK: Returning Our Gardens to Their True Nature Through Acts of Restorative Kindness, shares the wisdom of creating an ARK through “Acts of Restorative Kindness”. Beautifully illustrated with many color illustrations by Ruth Evans it is as lovely as her earlier book The Garden Awakening. Both are delightful, inspiring and informative. 

A much denser and profound book is by Wendell Berry titled The Need to Be Whole, Patriotism & the History of Prejudice. Farmer, philosopher and writer of books, essays, novels and poems, Berry shares how the wisdom of Indigenous tribes and African slaves who lived on the land, worked with it and knew how to sustain it were dismissed. Instead “experts” brought about the present disaster of big agriculture. What is needed to sustain us and the land speaks loudly of the need to look to the wisdom of the past. His inspiration is the land he farms and Aldo Leopold’s “ The Land Ethic” which views soils, waters, plants, and animals as the community of life. Berry considers the loss of human community due to the loss of connection to the land. 

One of Wendell Berry’s classic poems sinks deep into our souls in this time of often despair. Peace of Wild Things, first published in 1968,reminds us of how we can be healed by nature. The poem begins: “ When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water…”. There is a beautiful animation of this poem on YouTube*. 

A Sand County Almanac, deserves to be read again and again. It starts with: “There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot”. Aldo Leopold’s words of love and discoveries of the land on the 120 acres next to the sandbar filled Wisconsin river flow like poetry. These inspiring words are timeless and true even now seventy two years after first publication. 

Curl up with these inspiring and important books. They can be gifts for yourself and others. All are available from local bookstores and libraries. 

* A beautiful animation of this poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ewB0WL3bNw

Linda Wiggen Kraft is a landscape designer who creates holistic and organic gardens. She is also an artist and creativity workshop leader. Find her ceramic jewelry on her Etsy shop(CreativityForTheSoul). For more info and to subscribe to her blog and Instagram go to www.CreativityForTheSoul.com, Call her at 314 504-4266