“Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education” by Michael Pollan

By Shelly Kilroy, Librarian

If you’ve ever read anything that stimulated more questions than answers you’ll know how we all felt as our Art & Gardens Book Discussion Group read and discussed Michael Pollan’s Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education.

Despite its subtitle, Pollan’s book is not really about gardening but about where people fit into nature and how we should interact with it.  Should we have more of the wild in us or bring more “culture,” what I read as intentional thoughtfulness, to our conduct with nature?  Do our environmental problems have more to do with our “habits, technologies and economic arrangements” than with the earth’s resource limits or our population numbers?  Not to mention whether separating human from nature is a true and beneficial separation.  Would we do better to acknowledge ourselves and our culture and cities as part of nature and practice more thoughtful interactions with the rest of the living world?  I have to say we didn’t come up with any answers, good discussion, lots of differing viewpoints, but no clear-cut answers.

Our discussion group agreed that whether we agreed with Pollan or not, whether his ideas were really supported by any science or not, his book did make you think. I believe we would all recommend this book, and others by him, for generating great discussion.


Art and Gardens Book Discussion Group is open to members of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Great discussions of great books take place the first Tuesday of each month from 1-3 PM. April’s selection is The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham.

RSVP to Shelly Kilroy at 616-957-3144 or skilroy@meijergardens.org

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