Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How I Spent My Summer Vacation Part II

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part II

In August, I visited four important American authors to gather plants for the garden. Here’s the update on how those plants are faring!

Mark Twain: In Hartford, Connecticut, we visited the Mark Twain House and Museum to try and cultivate the wisteria for the third time. Master gardener Meg Lambert reports that while she is ever hopeful, the wisteria cuttings are struggling. We do have a Mark Twain Liberty burr oak tree generously donated by retired teacher Michael Brown, so Twain is represented. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the wisteria survives!

Harriet Beecher Stowe: I am so pleased to report that Beth Burgess of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Hartford, Connecticut (right next door to Mark Twain’s house!) generously donated two plants to our garden: a clematis vine and Harrison’s yellow roses. Both plants have survived and taken root in the Literary Garden.  

Walt Whitman: I could not contain my excitement when we visited Walt Whitman’s House in Camden, New Jersey. I stood in his bedroom and saw his shoes! His cane! I could not get enough information about one of my favorite poets, and curator Leo Blake kindly obliged. Late in September, the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association director, Cynthia Shor, along with volunteer gardener Leslie Lockhart, sent a lilac cutting and lilac seeds from the lilac bush at the Huntington Station, New York home. The tiny cutting seems to be thriving in a pot in the Literary Garden. We will be bringing it inside for the winter to give it the best chance for survival.

Ernest Hemingway: In Petoskey, Michigan, I had the special good fortune to spend a full day exploring Hemingway’s haunts with the president of the Michigan Hemingway Society, Chris Struble. Not only did I get to plunge my own hands into the cold waters of the spring Hemingway describes at the beginning of “Summer People,” but I also got to see, smell, and taste the mint Chris had sent to us at its source. I was ALL IN that day – when Chris said we could still check out the pilings left of the dock Hemingway had stood on with his friends, I – frustrated that I could not see – walked into the lake with my clothes on and peered into the water until I could see them for myself. Chris, more than startled, ended up following me in, his battered copy of the Nick Adams stories in his hand, reading in the middle of the lake where Hemingway and his friends had summered nearly a century ago. It was, without question, one of the most memorable Literary Garden adventures I have had! And yes, the mint has EXPLODED in our garden! The students and staff love it!

The Michigan Hemingway Society Conference is this weekend in Petoskey, Michigan, and I know Chris has been working hard to put together a terrific program. More on that soon!


  1. Because OF COURSE you just jumped right in the water to see what was left of the dock. I love it!! :) Awesome post, thank you for sharing the updates!