“The Earth Knows My Name” by Patricia Klindienst

By Shelly Kilroy, Librarian

Even in books for adults, pictures can be important.  After reading The Earth Knows My Name: Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans by Patricia Klindienst, our Art & Gardens Book Discussion Group agreed that we would have loved to see pictures of the gardeners and their gardens and even to have some recipes using the unique foods they grew.

In this series of essays on the gardens of ethnic Americans, from Native Americans to Japanese and Italian immigrants among others, the author shows the strong connection to the land that these groups of Americans hold.  Though many of us thought the book missed the mark in terms of garden descriptions and discussion of the unique plants each gardener cultivated, we all really came to like each of the gardeners and so wanted to see them and their gardens, see the land and plants they so lovingly cared for…and pick up some new recipes!  During our discussion we even chose favorite gardens or gardeners. Our choices ranged from the gardens of a community of descendants of slaves living on St. Helena Island in South Carolina to a group of Khmer gardeners who had escaped Cambodia’s civil war and genocide by coming to America in 1982 to the vineyard of a Polish immigrant living on Bainbridge Island in Washington.  But even without the recipes and photographs, we found this book to be a great introduction to some very interesting people and their gardens.

Next month we will shift our focus to the art world, reading and discussing Edmund deWaal’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes:  A Family’s Century of Art and Loss.

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.

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

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