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Historical Society Presents 'Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life'


MADISON – On Tuesday, March 18, the Madison Historical Society will present Chatham resident Marta McDowell, who will discuss “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life.”  McDowell’s presentation will take place in the Chase Room of the Madison Public Library beginning at 7:15 p.m..  Light refreshments will be available from 7 p.m. The meeting is open to the public, and there is no admission charge.

Beatrix Potter is best known as the author and illustrator of the beloved Peter Rabbit series of children’s books.  McDowell observes that, “when we think of Beatrix Potter, we imagine blue-jacketed bunnies and other fuzzy fauna.  But Beatrix Potter was a very intriguing character in her own right and was quite interested in plants and gardens.” 

“Ms McDowell’s presentation will describe Potter's botanical art, the flora and horticulture that appears in her ‘little books’ and Potter's own garden in England's Lake District,” added Society vice chairperson and program chair, Cathie Coultas.

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According to McDowell, “the relationship between the pen and the trowel led her to Potter as well as to the poet Emily Dickinson, and her book, Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life, was published by Timber Press in 2013. The book traces the development and eventual blossoming of Beatrix Potter’s life as a gardener, from her childhood interest in plants, through her realization as an artist and author, to her final years as an estate farmer and naturalist.”

Marta McDowell lives, writes and gardens in Chatham, New Jersey. She shares her garden with her husband, Kirke Bent, their crested cockatiel, Sydney, and assorted wildlife. Her garden writing has appeared in popular publications such as Woman’s Day, Fine Gardening and The New York Times.

Mc Dowell teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden.  A popular lecturer on topics ranging from design history to plant combinations, she has been a featured speaker at locations ranging from Wave Hill to the Garden Club of Philadelphia to the Beatrix Potter Society's Linder Lecture at the Sloane Club in London.

Marta McDowell interned at Wave Hill, Frelinghuysen Arboretum, The Royal Horticultural Society’s Rosemoor in Devon, England and at the Chelsea Physic Garden. She also worked as a horticulturist for five years at Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, NJ and currently serves on the Board of the NJ Historical Garden Foundation at the Cross Estate.

The Madison Historical Society’s role is to assemble, record, and preserve all matters of historical interest concerning Madison and its residents.  Formed in 1922 to preserve the old Bottle Hill Tavern, the Society has organized a significant collection of historic documents, maps and photographs over the intervening years. These are housed at the Local History Center at the Madison Public Library.  For more information about the Society or to inquire about membership, call 973-377-0722, ext 8 or visit the Society’s website at  

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