The Story of Celia Thaxter
and Her Island Garden
A TRUE TALE WITH
A CHERRY ON TOP
(pub.5.17.2022) 40 pages
Authors: Phyllis Root and Gary D. Schmidt
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Character: Celia Thaxter
" Celia Thaxter grew up on a desolate island off the coast of Maine, where her father worked as lighthouse keeper. Amid the white and gray of the sea, the rocks, and even the birds, young Celia found color where she could: green mosses and purple starfish and pink morning glories by the shore. And she planted her first garden, tucking bright marigolds between rocky ledges. When she was twelve, Celia’s family moved to nearby Appledore Island, where her father built a large hotel, and Celia planted a bigger, ever-growing garden with nearly sixty types of flowers, from asters to wisteria.
Guests flocked to the hotel from around the world, among them such writers as Longfellow, Whittier, and Hawthorne. Celia had been writing poems about the island, her garden, and the sea, and they would be printed in magazines and books, making her a foremother of writing about nature. "
" In the springtime, after long winters, Celia sailed back to Appledore, carrying the seedlings to plant her garden. Year after year, she planted. She planted pansies, sweet peas and hollyhocks, dark larkspurs and foxgloves, and tall sunflowers and red dahlias and nasturtiums and golden California poppies - and yellow marigolds. All summer long the flowers blossomed and brightened the island, pretty as a poem, pretty as a painting. All summer long the birds were at home in her garden - and even her house."
And something more: A Note on Celia Laighton Thaxter at the back of the book explains: "In the middle of her most famous poem, 'Land-Locked,' Celia Thaxter wrote, 'Have patience, - here are flowers and songs of birds, / Beauty and fragrance, wealth of sound and sigh, / All summer's glory thine from morn till night, / And life too full of joy for uttered words.' If Celiz Taxter were to summarize her entire life in a single stanza, she might have chosen this one.
...Publishers encouraged Celia to write about her childhood ... and then to write about her garden on Appledore... Today, though the buildings she knew on Appledore burned down over a century ago, the garden has been re-created on the island on which she is buried, and with which she will forever be linked."