Emily Herring Wilson

2005 SeasonEmily Wilson

Emily Herring Wilson is author of numerous books, including North Carolina Women , and is the editor of Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence-A Friendship in Letters . She is also a scholar for the North Carolina Humanities Council, the recipient of numerous awards, and she has been a resident at The MacDowell Colony. She lives with her husband in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.



Hope and Dignity: Older Black Women of the South (1983)

North Carolina Women: Making History, co-authored with Margaret Supplee Smith (1999)

To Fly without Hurry (2001)

No One Gardens Alone: A Life of Elizabeth Lawrence (2004)




Elizabeth Lawrence is the garden's biographer. She brings the garden to life and makes us feel as if we ourselves are in it. The titles of her books suggest the range of her interests: A Southern Garden, The Little Bulbs, Gardens in Winter, Lob's Wood, Gardening for Love, and A Rock Garden in the South . A Garden of One's Own is a collection of her garden articles that appeared in journals, and Through the Garden Gate includes a selection from her more than seven hundred newspaper columns. Her first book, A Southern Garden , published in 1942 and reissued in three editions, is regarded as a classic in garden literature. Each of her books has its own following, both among gardeners who go to Lawrence for information and advice that remains relevant today, and among readers who regard Lawrence as a gifted literary writer who knew poetry as well as she knew plants.


Elizabeth Lawrence had an implicit understanding of how essential her life was to her work, and she wrote from her experiences ay home and in the garden. She had the ability to write about herself and her friends in a way that preserves rather than destroys privacy, a gift so rare in our time that that we may underestimate its importance. In each of her books, she invites the reader inside: We see the red cardinal in the bamboo by the candle-lit window, where Elizabeth and her mother are having dinner; smell the scent of sweet olive; hear the sound of branches breaking under the weight of ice; and feel woolly thyme and lamb's ears. Our senses are aroused, and, if only for a moment, time stands still. No one knew better than Elizabeth Lawrence how ephemeral a garden is, and she teaches her readers to savor every season because it will not last forever. In this lesson, we learn another way of being, imagined if not lived. In an age of speed, such moments of peace are essential, I must believe, to our well-being.