During the afternoon of 9 February 2020, eleven RIWPS members gathered in the comfortable living room of the Pilson house around a roaring fire. As if on cue a few snow flakes fluttered past the windows.

Elaine Trench lead the discussion of  The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf. The book, as the back cover says, “paints a vivid portrait of an emerging world of knowledge and gardening” by recounting the plant exchanges, botanical explorations and systems of taxonomy of six men of the Enlightenment in pre-revolutionary America, England and around the globe. The discussion covered the substance, the style and the historical biases of the book but also drew on readers’ own experiences of learning and collecting. When the allotted time was up, people only reluctantly stopped exchanging their views.

Elaine has headed up the book discussion for as long as it’s been running. Now she’s moving to Maine. We hope to keep the tradition alive. If you have a book to suggest (we read non- fiction in the winter, although we have considered having a poetry year) or you’re interesting in moderating, please be in touch with Susan Marcus of Walks and Workshops (marcus.susan@gmail.com).


What we have read in the past.

Braiding Sweetgrass – Robin Wall Kimmerer

Silent Spring & The Sixth Extinction – Elizabeth Kolbert

Biophilia  – Edward O. Wilson

Can the Monarchs be Saved? (Open format. Participants chose different sources, either from our suggested reading list or anything else they preferred)

A Sand County AlmanacAldo Leopold

Bartram’s Gardens in Philadelphia, photos ETrench

Bartram's Gardens in Philadelphia