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, Country Gardening, The New York Times. She is a regular contributor to the British journal, Hortus.
Marta's work typically follows the relationship between the pen and the trowel, that is authors and their gardens. Her latest book, Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life, is a reworked, revised, and full color edition her first book which explores the plants and places that inspired the iconic poet. Timber Press also published The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, All the Presidents' Gardens, and Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life. All the Presidents' Gardens made The New York Times bestseller list and won an American Horticultural Society book award in 2017. Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life won the Gold Award from the Garden Writers Association and is now in its eighth printing. Emily Dickinson’s Gardens was first published by McGraw-Hill in 2005.
Marta's next book about The Secret Garden and its author, Frances Hodgson Burnett, due out in 2021. She has just embarked on a new book for Timber Press on gardening themes in crime fiction with the working title, Gardening Can Be Murder.
If you visit the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts, you can stroll the grounds with a landscape audio tour that Marta scripted. She was an advisor for the New York Botanical Garden's 2010 show, "Emily Dickinson's Gardens: The Poetry of Flowers." Marta was the 2018 Gardener-in-Residence at the Emily Dickinson Museum.
Marta teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden where she has been twice awarded "Instructor of the Year." A popular lecturer, she has been a featured speaker at locations ranging from the Chicago Botanic Garden to the Smithsonian Institution to the Beatrix Potter Society's Linder Lecture at the Sloane Club in London. In 2020, Marta was a visiting lecturer in English classes at Bowdoin College and Columbia University and, from mid-March on, a frequent speaker online for organizations including Winterthur and the United States Botanic Garden. She appeared in PBS American Masters "Laura Ingalls Wilder: Prairie to Page" which first aired in December, 2020.
Marta interned at Wave Hill, Frelinghuysen Arboretum, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Rosemoor in Devon, England and at the Chelsea Physic Garden. She worked as a horticulturist for five years at Reeves-Reed Arboretum in New Jersey. Marta is on the Board of the New Jersey Historical Garden Foundation at the Cross Estate. She is the 2019 recipient of the Garden Club of America's Sarah Chapman Francis Medal for outstanding literary achievement. Her garden is included in the Smithsonian's Archive of American Gardens.
Her husband, Kirke, summed up Marta's bio as "I am, therefore I dig."
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Marta McDowell teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden and consults for private clients and public gardens. Her latest book is Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life. Timber Press also published The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, New York Times-bestselling All the Presidents' Gardens, and Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, now in its seventh printing. Marta's new book, Unearthing The Secret Garden about the children's classic and its author, is due out from Timber Press in 2021. She is the 2019 recipient of the Garden Club of America's Sarah Chapman Francis Medal for outstanding literary achievement.