September Book Discussion – Founding Gardeners

September 4, 2012
By Shelly Kilroy, Meijer Gardens Librarian 

After Frederik Meijer Gardens’ members book group read Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation, we all agreed President’s Day will never be the same.

“Founding Gardeners” by Andrea Wulf

Learning about the great love Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Madison had for the land and plants and gardens in particular, and how it shaped their politics, was fascinating and enlightening.

For example, in their gardens, these men focused on using native American plants and less formal planting styles than were in fashion in Europe. For them, this was a political statement. Their gardens would be truly American in both plants and in style.

For all of us in the book group this was a fascinating new look at a fledgling nation and the founders we thought we knew.

On October 2, we will be reading and discussing John Muir: Nature’s Visionary by Gretel Ehrlich. This should be a fascinating read and a great prelude to the presentation on John Muir by Lee Stetson at the Wege Environmental Lecture on October 23.

Art & Gardens Book Discussion Group – Join this Fall

By Shelly Kilroy, Librarian

On May 1we wrapped up our third year of discussing interesting and enlightening books in our Art & Gardens Book Discussion Group. Our members-only group reads books related to art, gardening and nature and meets the first Tuesday of each month from September to May at 1 p.m.

For our final discussion we took on two books: Michael Cunningham’s By Nightfall and Noah Charney’s Stealing the Mystic Lamb

Our discussion of the novel By Nightfall revolved around beauty in all its forms from pieces of art to people. Though this book gave us the opportunity for some lively discussion we ended up split on the issue of whether we would recommend it or not.

Noah Charney’s non-fiction piece was a fascinating look at art theft throughout history, in particular as it related to the most stolen piece of art of all time, Jan van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece. We agreed that though it was dense with information, and sometimes hard to get through, the information was fascinating and we learned a great deal about the issue of art theft and protecting the world’s great art.

This was our last discussion before our summer break. We will gather together again in September to discuss Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature and the Shaping of the American Nation by Andrea Wulf. We hope you can join us to read and discuss this book and these other great titles:

OctoberJohn Muir: Nature’s Visionary by Gretel Ehrlich
NovemberThe Paper Garden: An Artist Begins her Life’s Work at 72 by Molly Peacock
DecemberA Naturalist Buys an Old Farm by Edwin Way Teale
JanuaryFlower Confidential: The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful by Amy Stewart
FebruaryThe Private Lives of Impressionists by Sue Roe
March: Plastic Ocean by Charles Moore
April: The Beekeeper’s Lament by Hannah Nordhaus
May: My Love Affair with Modern Art by Katharine Kuh

Interested in being a part of the next book discussion in October? Contact Shelly Kilroy at for more information on how you can become involved.