Recently Read: You Could Make This Place Beautiful, by Maggie Smith

You Could Make This Place Beautiful, by Maggie Smith

Poet Maggie Smith explores the disintegration of her marriage and her renewed commitment to herself in lyrical vignettes that shine, hard and clear as jewels.

I think this book is for: anyone wishing to explore love, grief, and healing through a series of nuanced, self-reflective vignettes.

memorable: the layers of symbolism threaded throughout the writing, the process of recovering your sense of self.

confusing or jarring: some of the repetition.

cw: divorce, adultery, miscarriage, postpartum depression.

Illinois Pollinators

A monarch butterfly on a milkweed bloom.
Photo by Ron Bird on

Via the Northern Illinois Native Plant Gardeners group on Facebook, the Illinois Extension has a new site for pollinator gardens.

“Illinois Pollinators,, is a free website devoted to everything pollinators. From different types of pollinator species to the step-by-step process of starting a pollinator garden or attractive habitat, the site is a one-stop resource for those looking to make an impact on the pollinator population.”

Braasch, Jenna. “Discover How to Increase Illinois Pollinators through Thoughtful Garden Design on Website.Illinois Extension: College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences.

Bexley Arboretum

Reading You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir by Maggie Smith, and she mentions that at one point she and her husband moved to Bexley, Ohio, “being the only city in the country designated as an arboretum. So many trees, some of them pines. So many pinecones.”

Bexley, Ohio neighborhood in Spring with a tree-lined street.
Bexley street in spring, Mah Jong, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

With 14,000 street trees of more than 130 species, in 2013 Bexley became the first city in the United States to be designated as a municipal arboretum. Since then there have been others, including Mt. Lebanon PA, Village of Homewood IL, Montgomery IL, and Oak Park IL.

I haven’t read much further in the book yet so I don’t know if Maggie Smith liked living there, or maybe there were too many pine cones.