Autobiography of a Garden follows Patterson Webster’s twenty-five-year journey as she transforms a beautiful but conventional country property into a 750-acre landscape that challenges what a garden is, or can be.
A unique, personal memoir, this book details how a neophyte gardener moved from copying the ideas of other people to learning from them, and finally to striking out on her own. Combining traditions from French and English eighteenth-century gardens with contemporary perspectives, Webster communicates concepts and ideas that underpin the garden’s design, sharing a process that evolved over seasons and years. She explores the meaning of creating a garden and the meaning that a garden can create, linking ideas about aging and the passage of time to the reality of growth and death in the landscape and thinking through how art in a garden can reframe questions of memory and our relationship to nature. Using the history of the property as a framework, Webster considers the impact made by those who lived on the land before her: the Abenaki, the early settlers, the cottagers, the farmers, the US southerners who came to Quebec to avoid the summer heat, and the northerners who defeated them in the Civil War. With engaging personal anecdotes, she describes the thinking behind each part of the garden and the examples that guided her, the mishaps and successes she encountered, and her plans for the future.
Beautifully photographed and full of inspirational ways of thinking about gardens and gardening, Autobiography of a Garden blends history, horticulture, and art, encouraging readers to make their own surroundings more beautiful and more meaningful.
About the author
Patterson Webster is an experienced gardener, writer, artist, and popular speaker. She lives in the Eastern Townships in Quebec.
“Rendering the story of your own garden sufficiently interesting to engross others is a serious challenge, if only because the spirit of place is so essential to the story of any garden and so difficult to communicate to those who have not enjoyed the privilege of visiting, but Patterson Webster rises to it. If Autobiography of a Garden is a unique book, it is due in part to the uniqueness of Webster and her garden: Glen Villa in the Eastern Townships is sui generis. Not only is it off the beaten path, but it is also a highly personal space that she has shaped over nearly thirty years. This enriches the story enormously. Writing with a wonderful fluidity, Webster opens a personal portal for her reader with great generosity.” Alexander Reford, Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens