What Is the Connection Between Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth, the Impressionists and Other Artists and Writers Who Garden?

Beatrix Potter’s Farmhouse and Hill Top Garden

Yesterday I was talking to my cousin about starting another garden in the Ozarks and about placing a greenhouse on that site. That was before I received my new book today Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. On further examination, I realize that my dream for a gardening cottage is one that was attained long ago by my mentor Beatrix Potter.

For many years, I have known that I want little more than a fireplace in my kitchen, a stone floor, and flowers leaping from every nook and cranny around myself. Today, I opened the first page of my new book and read the following:

“The flowers love the house, they try to come in. The golden flowered great St. Johns wort pushes up between the flags in the porch, it has peeped up between the skirting and the flags inside the porch place before now. And the old lilac bush that blew down had its roots under the parlour floor, when they lifted the boards. Houseleek grows on the window sills and ledges; wisteria climbs the wall; clematis chokes the spout’s casings. Wall flowers and cabbage roses in season; rosemary and blue gentian, and earliest to flower the red pyrus Japnanese quince–but nothing more sweet than the old pink cabbage rose that peeps in at the small paned windows.” Beatrix Potter’s description of Hill Top Farm.

Bearix Potter’s Garden Gate

Jacki Kellum Garden Gate

Like Beatrix Potter, I am an avid gardener.

Jacki Kellum Garden 2019

And I write and illustrate for children from the pastoral garden within myself.

Jacki Kellum Illustration – “The sun needs to rise, but the Rooster’s in bed.”

I have always admired Beatrix Potter, but before today, I have not acknowledged how very much I was cut from the cloth of her being.

My last distraction before returning to writing and illustrating for children is to study Beatrix Potter and that spot within herself that needed a garden. I realize that I am also driven by a spark that is seeking that same spot. I believe it is important to understand what inspires me.

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I am not quite sure what it is about gardening and about having a personal garden retreat that seems to unite many artists and writers. Many of the Impressionist painters had impressive gardens, and the same is true of writers.

window view of garden

“Dear March — Come in — How glad I am — I hoped for you before —” Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson celebrated gardens and nature in her poetry. Here

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Edith Holden at another of my blog sites: https://edithholden.wordpress.com/

Edith Holden wrote and illustrated the beautiful Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady and other books, too.

Jane Austen and Edith Warton had similar motivation. Indeed, celebrating the garden through the arts seems to have been an Edwardian and Victorian thing to do and this tendency was at about the same period as Impressionists and Post Impressionists painted.

Forest Daffodil in the Rain – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Impressionism began in about 1860, the Victorian period began in 1837 and ended in 1901. The Edwardian era began in 1901, and Post Impressionism was from about 1885 to 1905. Gardens and nature were primary themes during this time, and all of it occurred soon after William Wordsworth “wandered lonely as a cloud” and celebrated the field of Daffodils. This happened at about the same time that Beatrix Potter published Peter Rabbit in 1901.

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Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens was published in 1906, and it is interesting to me that young Beatrix Potter regularly visited Kensington Gardens as a child. It is also interesting to note that Arthur Rackham, who first illustrated Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, is one of my all-time favorite illustrators, too.

I readily acknowledge that I am a fan of Romantic British poets [William Wordsworth was a Romantic British poet] and that I wrote my first master’s thesis about William Blake, who was an earlier Romantic British poet. Everything about me exudes Romanticism, but visually speaking, I identify with the Impressionist and Post Impressionist Painters. I add this detail to square myself within the period of art and writing that I most admire. I suppose that it should be of no surprise that the same things that touched these artists and writers also touch me.

My garden in New Jersey

Like many that I admire who worked before me, I celebrate nature, and one’s celebration of nature is probably nowhere more personal than in his own garden.

Red Hibiscus – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Old Blush Rose – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Jacki Kellum Garden