In My Garden
ABC Books, 2023
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
In our gardens are where we belong.
Planting, watching, growing, dreaming.
In our gardens something out of nothing comes.
Over 2000 years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero is said to have said, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
And in this new release, readers can have both as they join children from around the world as they share their gardens, from blossoming flowers in Japan to the waterside of Malawi, the frozen landscape of Iceland to the bush tracks of Australia, even where the mountains meet the sea in New Zealand.. Despite the diversity of plants and wildlife, these are the places they love and the places they belong, where they seek serenity and solace from the busy-ness of the world around them.
But as well as bringing peace to the soul, this is a book that has the potential to open up new horizons for young learners as they understand that while gardens themselves are universal, the plants within them vary greatly and so that can set up all sorts of investigations into why that is so, the needs of plants, the adaptations they make to their conditions – perhaps even why so many Australian gardens tend to feature English plants. And those who have come from some of the gardens featured can not only indulge in a little nostalgia but share their knowledge with their peers. There is the opportunity to consider what each garden might teach the reader about the child and the country represented, and teachers’ notes offer further guidance and ideas to explore.
I am not a gardener, which is probably just as well given where I live with its harsh winter climate and poor soil that is leached of its goodness by the hundreds of snow gums that surround us, but I do value their beauty and the variety of wildlife they attract (in itself, another investigation) and I’m privileged to experience that universal feeling of calm and wonder that comes wherever we find Mother Nature just doing her thing. Just looking at this book can offer that as the mind drifts away…