21 years later: 2019’s all-new edition of ‘a way to garden,’ plus my other books

I, MARGARET ROACH, am the creator of the book, website and companion public radio show and podcast “A Way to Garden,” and also the author of other books, including “And I Shall Have Some Peace There” (2011, a memoir about dropping out of city and corporate life for a rural one) and “The Backyard Parables” (a garden memoir). More on each of those below–and autographed copies of all three can be had by mail-order from my local bookstore at this link. (Photo above by my friend Ali Stafford of Alexandra’s Kitchen.)

A Way to Garden by Margaret Roach, 1998 and 2019

‘a way to garden’ (2019)

IN 2017, when it occurred to me that my first book, the 1998 version of “A Way to Garden” (above left), was about to turn 20 but was terribly out of date and long out of print, I said to Andrew Beckman that we ought to fix that.

“I always loved that book,” said Andrew, a longtime friend and former “Martha Stewart Living” colleague, now Publisher at garden book specialists Timber Press, a division of Workman. I always loved that old book of mine, too, and on April 30, 2019 I hope you will love its all-new incarnation that we have conjured together (above right), with help from Mick Hales, whose photos combine with mine in it.

reviews of the new 2019 edition

SO FAR THOSE who have seen an advance galley do, including “The New York Times Book Review,” which said in part in a rave review that I am in this book, “sensitive, wise, deliberate, thoughtful and splendidly bossy.” “Publisher’s Weekly” (with a starred review), adds this:

“Roach… thoughtfully and thoroughly updates her 1998 guide to organic, year-round gardening. … Those with dirt already under their fingernails will treasure Roach’s in-depth knowledge, wry humor, and reflective look at how seasons in gardening mirror the passage of time.”

Other garden names and sneak-peekers you may recognize–from both the U.S. and U.K., where the new edition will also be available–were likewise very kind:

“Unquestionably brilliant! I am so impressed with the wisdom of Margaret Roach’s experience and the things she writes about that most garden books ignore.”—Deborah Madison, author, “Vegetable Literacy” and “The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone”

“A gorgeous, helpful, and tenderly funny book for anyone who likes putting plants in the ground. I love the fact that it’s ‘A Way to Garden’ not ‘THE Way to Garden.’ Less hubris, more mulch.”—Ann Patchett, owner of Parnassus Books and international best-selling author of “Bel Canto,” “State of Wonder,” and “Commonwealth”

“Margaret has an intimate grasp of her subject, along with an appreciation of the microcosm of life within the spaces we garden. Her sparkling wit makes her a joy to read.”—Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener, Great Dixter House and Gardens

“’A Way to Garden’—sensitive, wise, deliberate, thoughtful and splendidly bossy—prods us toward that ineffable place where we feel we belong; it’s a guide to living both in and out of the garden.”—Dominique Browning, “The New York Times Book Review

“For more than two decades, A Way to Garden has provided a friendly invitation to the garden. As real, gritty, and funny as the first time around, this blueprint of how to garden, why we garden, the joys of gardening, is a prerequisite to lifting a spade.”—Dan Hinkley, award-winning author, “The Explorer’s Garden,” and Heronswood founder

“An indefatigable researcher, Margaret Roach is a whirlwind of enthusiasm for and knowledge of the natural world. This update gives us the benefit of so much new information. Thank you, Margaret.”—Marco Polo Stufano, founding Director of Horticulture, Wave Hill

“Margaret is the knowledgeable, encouraging, and often humorous best friend we all need when we grow a garden. We get to peer over her shoulder as she sows every seed, plants every shrub, harvests every tomato.”—Niki Jabbour, food gardening author, writer, and radio host

“Her voracious curiosity has kept Margaret on the leading edge. This updated classic distills decades of learning from one of gardening’s keenest minds. It is delightfully free of ideology but brimming with ideas and inspirations.”—Thomas Rainer, author, “Planting in a Post-Wild World;” principal, Phyto Studio

“America’s favorite garden communicator shares her wisdom, and through her superb writing, helps us discover ‘a lifetime supply of wonder.’”—Ken Druse, photographer, lecturer, and award-winning author

“If I could keep just one gardening book, the beautifully written A Way to Garden would be the treasured title. This is Margaret’s finest work to date and why she is my gardening superhero!”—Joe Lamp’l, Emmy Award–winning creator and host, “Growing a Greener World,” PBS

“A great book to curl up with … Margaret shares insight from her decades of gardening: the ups and downs are laid bare for gardeners to learn, empathize, and find inspiration.”—Tony Avent, garden writer and founder, Plant Delights Nursery

“The perfect reading companion for those of us who feel that gardening is an unstoppable addiction. It will draw you even further in, while confirming what you’ve always known in your heart: you must have more plants!”—Jane Perrone, host, “On The Ledge” podcast; former gardening editor, “The Guardian”

“Now that I am starting to dig into my own land, I have found a trusted manual to create interest in every season.”—Joshua McFadden, executive chef and author, “Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables”

The Backyard Parables by Margaret Roach 2013‘the backyard parables’ (2013)

‘THE BACKYARD PARABLES” (my third book), released in January 2013, has been called “a blessing” by “Eat, Pray, Love” author Liz Gilbert, and “a love story” by “The Vegetarian Epicure” author Anna Thomas, among other tender feedback. The book was featured in places from “People” magazine to “Good Housekeeping” and “The New York Times.” The book is a mix of garden and nature memoir, with how-to layered in between.

And I Shall Have Some Peace There by Margaret Roach 2011‘and i shall have some peace there’ (2011)

A MEMOIR I WROTE about the big decision to drop out of my city and corporate life of “success” to start over in rural Nowheresville–a.k.a. my former weekend garden that is now my happy home. This is a good book for anyone pondering a life change of any kind (or so I am told by readers who continue to write to me after reading it). The garden, and nature, play a big part in “Peace,” as I refer to it, but it’s not a gardening book.

  1. Gayle Latham says:

    I would love to have a poster of the cover for ‘and i shall have some peace there’ for my greenhouse door! I have all your books, but that is my favorite because it meant so much to me the year I retired.

    1. Kathy says:

      And I agree with J B!! I even wish Oblong Books, my local bookstore, was listed first above the “lawn” of online shopping.

      Thank you for helping me to start gardening. You were introduced to me by several different gardening friends. You’re beloved.

  2. J B says:

    Thank you for having links to someplace other than Amazon. They are the ubiquitous “lawn” of online shopping, and I prefer to go native…. ;-)

  3. My latest purchased cookbook is Snacking Cakes! If I win, I’ll certainly pass the new copy onto my Snacking friend!
    I love snacking cakes. I bake a lot for my friends. Food is just love and I drop of snack cakes to people…just ’cause! I made the chocolate cake from the book…OMG!! And the best thing about a snacking cake is that it just gets better every day!
    OF COURSE…Bread, Toast, Crumbs is my go to. I’ve learned so about about the simplicity of food from watching Alexandra and she’s also taken eliminated the intimidation factor of bread making, making that process fun and delicious!

  4. Frances Boninti says:

    As always, Enjoyed the program! Scary to see that river coursing through Ken’s lawn! This is now what’s waiting for us all with climate change.

  5. Donna says:

    love your blog. what is the name of the plant you are holding in the picture. some kind of vine? wide leaves. my neighbour has one and it is always hanging over my fence and seems to take over everying.

  6. m. fassett says:

    This is first podcoast I lisened to; I loved it and felt I was conversing with Margaret myself! She made comments that I have been making to myself throughout the years. Is that possible….that all my cocerns are real? I will try to find and listen or relisten to old podcoasts. Now to find out where I can put my name to win “the” book…so far I don’t find the location.

  7. Dear Margaret, my “reading” language is Spanish, which is why I want translations of your books, with all my heart. I understand English but not with the depth due. I am a landscaper and I long to learn from her profound and poetic literature on the garden.
    Thank you carefully.

    1. margaret says:

      Thanks for your kind note, Adriana. I don’t think they will be translated, sorry to say, but do appreciate your point about a “reading” language (versus a conversational one).

  8. Suzanne Nuti says:

    Doug’s advice is right on. Every year our lawn gets smaller & native flower & tree areas grow. Leave the leaves is my new motto but difficult getting my husband to listen. Some things take time as in restoring our 27 acres in Southwest Michigan. I would love to read Doug Tallamy’s new book. Thank you for all your great info Margaret.

  9. Barb Lyttleton says:

    These books all look wonderful! I enjoy your emails. I’m a city “hit and miss” gardener who still gets lots of great results. I really enjoy it.

  10. Robert hoven says:

    Thank You Margaret for all the wonderful articles in The NY Times. They are just what this amateur gardener of 65 years needs! Lol!

  11. Mike Zaisser says:

    Thank you for your books and wisdom. Can anyone recommend a good book, maybe two, to redesign a small back yard space, about 25′ X 25′? Thanks!

  12. Dorothy E. Patterson says:

    Your podcast has given me new plant and gardening reliable information. The podcast about birds was a particular of interest and any other podcasts have never covered the subject.
    Please enter my name in the give away of the book ‘Saving Jemima’.

  13. Anne Guelker says:

    8/6/23 I recently read some of your work in “The Roots of My Obsession” – an essay titled “Saving Graces.” Your writing style is warm and comforting. Now it is time for me to order your books. Thank you.

  14. I have pressed flowers and herbs for many years. Gradually learning which flowers press well and which loose their color.
    Yellow and purple flowers seem to press the best.
    People are always amazed by the “flower picture “.
    Adrienne Roth

  15. Deborah says:

    Having been a fan of yours for years, I’m ashamed to say it’s taken me so long to slow down and get back to one of the greatest loves of my life – getting my hands dirty in the garden. I’ve lived in New England my whole life, until a move to SW Florida in 2005 with a now deceased husband. I’m now contemplating another move but am at sixes and sevens as to where. I’m hoping your book, AND I SHALL HAVE SOME PEACE THERE, will help me organize my thoughts, dig deep into my true wants and desires, and help me narrow the possibilities. The world may well be my oyster but I’d love know where to settle down at last to feast on my surroundings, get my hands in the dirt, and relish my garden once again.

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