Autobiography of a Garden, September 15, 2022

Linda Leith in conversation on stage with Patterson Webster at the Visual Arts Centre, Westmount.
Thursday, September 15th, 5-7 p.m.

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.

Autobiography of a Garden is published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, July 2022, $49.95.

Linda Leith is the author, most recently, of  The Girl from Dream City: A Literary Life, published by the University of Regina Press.

ISBN 978-0-889777-85-9. 280 pages. $21.95.