top of page
philosophy in the garden - scribe cover.


Why did Marcel Proust have bonsai beside his bed?  What was Jane Austen doing, coveting an apricot? How was Friedrich Nietzsche inspired by his ‘thought tree’?

In Philosophy in the Garden, Damon Young explores one of literature’s most intimate relationships: authors and their gardens. For some, the garden provided a retreat from workaday labour; for others, solitude’s quiet counsel. For all, it played a philosophical role: giving their ideas a new life. 

This book reveals the profound thoughts discovered in parks, backyards and pot-plants. It does not provide tips for mowing overgrown couch grass, or mulching a dry Japanese maple. It is a philosophical companion to the garden’s labours and joys. 


Philosophy in the Garden is published by MUP in Australia, by Scribe UK in the UK, and in translation in German, Italian, Dutch, Turkish, Korean, Spanish, and more.

Praise for the book:

"Like a garden coming into spring... tremendous vistas of thought." - The Daily Telegraph (UK)


"...sprightly and stimulating..." - The Spectator (UK)


"...Young writes with a delightful combination of humour and insight." - The Literary Review (UK)

"...for readers drawn to learning about the millennia-old tradition of teaching, writing, and thinking in the outdoors, this pithy offering will more than satisfy." - Publishers Weekly (USA)


"...enjoyable and erudite..." - Los Angeles Review of Books (USA)


"...thought-provoking...fine book..." - Gardens Illustrated (UK)


"...thought provoking indeed." - The Good Book Guide (UK) 


"...more my kind of ‘gardening’ than the digging type.... Particularly interesting is his account of Jane Austen’s creative relationship with her Hampshire gardens..." - The Lady (UK) 


"Young is an engaging writer. His technique is fluent and stylish and never marred by cliches or cliched thinking. He is sincere, a great relief from the ocean of irony in which we live, and intellectually questing, a relief from that other ocean of schmaltzy platitude." - The Australian


"Reading this book is like strolling in a luxuriant garden with an erudite friend, although one of a literary rather than horticultural bent.... Think of this engaging little a philosophical primer, an approachable introduction to ideas about gardens and the natural world..." - The Age/Sydney Morning Herald


"Philosophy in the Garden is a stimulating read where individual truths may well bloom.... [T]his volume is packed with brilliant literary info." - The West Australian 


"This is a gardening book that takes readers not on a walk around great estates but on a tour of great minds. ... It's a lovely extension on the notion that gardens make you contemplative and in working with the soil you see life's big picture." - The Daily Telegraph/Courier Mail


"Young helps readers reflect on the value of the garden beyond a place to hold a backyard barbecue.... [He] writes engagingly, showing off his skills as a storyteller... [A]n intriguing little book..." - Weekly Times


"[T]ake the plunge: the writing is fresh, the observations discursive, and the garden...placed front and centre." - Australian Garden History

"Uno de los más hermosos libros que he leído últimamente..." - el Periódico de Aragón (Spain)

"Damon Young nos proporciona unos análisis oportunos, claros y, al mismo tiempo, profundos..." - José Antonio Hernández Guerrero (Spain)

"...thoughtful and highly entertaining..." - Limelight


"Young has managed the difficult task of creating an academically rigorous work while maintaining a light and engaging tone throughout the book, which is actually a highly intellectual look at the complex relationship between humanity and nature." - Voice  


"[W]ith his vivid, critical, and, sometimes loving, attention to detail, he brings to new life writers and philosophers that anyone with a liberal arts education thought they already knew.... Young's enthusiasm, compassion, and moments of personal insight are infectious." - Island

"Damon Young’s Philosophy in the Garden embraces the paradoxes of wilderness while also exploring the significant tradition of literature and thought influenced by gardens...." - Plough


"[A] fascinating journey through the lives and creativity of writers.... It is an intimate, charming book..." - Sensibilities: The Journal of the Jane Austen Society of Australia 


"Philosophy in the Garden is... a thoughtful invitation to a wide readership to drink from a philosophical cup.... Young’s brew is beautifully blended, revealing from its first sip a light, rich texture and a caffeinated tingle of ideas." - Newtown Review of Books


 "Young's book is elegantly written, with an endearing whimsical touch." - Towoomba Chronicle


"A gentle dig for ideas about how to live - this book will grow your mind and put a glow in your cheeks." - Deborah Levy, author of Swimming Home 


"Erudite, yet witty and accessible, Voltaire's Vine is intellectual history at its most completely pleasurable." - Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote 


"A brilliant philosophical and literary meditation that helps us rethink our relationship with the natural world – and with ourselves." Roman Krznaric, author of Empathy


"I found it utterly engaging and most illuminating. His style is very readable and full of wit and personality." - Kate Forsyth, author of The Wild Girl


An absolute joy of a book--I couldn't put it down. Its prose is as careful and lovely as a beautifully tended garden." - Nikki Gemmell, columnist for The Australian and author of Honestly


"I've been looking forward to Damon Young's Philosophy in the Garden...all year. Part philosophy lesson, part literary companion, it's a contemplative stroll through writers' relationships with their gardens..." - Charlotte Wood, author of Animal People


"This beautiful looking book is a wonderfully refreshing mix of literary gossip, historical exposition and philosophical reflection, and I never wanted it to end." - Walter Mason, author of Destination Saigon


"Young weet de figuren die hij bespreekt als geen ander tot leven te wekken." - De Morgen (Belgium) 


"Felsefe ve edebiyata ilgi duyanlar kadar, dünyaya değişik açılardan bakmayı sevenler için de son derece çekici bir okuma ve bence tam bir yaz kitabı." - Habertürk (Turkey)

bottom of page