Sunshine, Freedom, and a Little Flower: In the Gardens of Female Writers

Earlier this spring an issue of Martha Stewart Living had a charming feature on the gardens of five legendary female writers, all of which are still in fabulous bloom and open to the touring public. It came at a perfect time as I was considering the relationship between writers and their often-favored pastime. There's a certain connection between books and nature that seems inseparable, and seeing the gardens that our favorite writers cultivated gives us as readers an even greater opportunity to better understand the women behind some of the most timeless stories.

Anne Spencer's home garden in Lynchburg, Virginia, was cultivated by the poet in the 1930s and still includes many of her own plants, include a Spanish Beauty rose that's now more than seventy-five years old. Originally, the restoration of the garden began in the 1980s and has remained a continual project of the Hillside Garden Club. | For more: Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum

The Mount, perhaps one of New England's most iconic literary estates, was famously designed by Edith Wharton herself, and this includes the home's gardens. The novelist thought herself better equipped for gardening than writing and cited the Mount's gardens as an even more notable accomplishment than The House of Mirth. Nestled in the Berkshires in Lenox, Massachusetts, the Mount's gardens cover three acres of land with a decidedly European flair, inspired by Wharton's many trips abroad. | For more: EdithWharton.org

Steepletop, Edna St. Vincent Millay's estate in Austerlitz, New York, rests on a 700-acre farm. The gardens (where she weeded in the nude) served as the backdrop for many of her famously outlandish parties, complete with peonies, wildflowers, day lilies, phlox, vegetation - and an outdoor bar. The poet also built a small abode in the garden which she designated as a space for writing. | For more: Millay.org

The garden at Eudora Welty's family home in Jackson, Mississippi, was originally planted by her mother before the writer eventually took over its cultivation. Restored from its heyday in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, the garden boasts daffodils and irises, detailed trellises and latticework, and Welty's most beloved collection of camellias. | For more: Eudora Welty House: The Garden

In Charlotte, North Carolina, Elizabeth Lawrence's garden provided an experimental location that helped her better understand and observe the nature of gardening. Aside from her many books on gardening and her column for the Charlotte Observer which lasted over a decade, Lawrence was also a garden designer. Now part of Wing Haven Gardens, her modest but abundant garden is showcased down the street from another famous garden home: that of Elizabeth Clarkson. | For more: Wing Haven Gardens

Images scanned from Martha Stewart Living April 2013 issue