A Way To Garden
'horticultural how-to and woo-woo'the source of organic gardening inspirationmargaret roach, head gardener
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Kathy in San Diego says
June 26, 2011 at 9:23 pm
Margaret, I am 2/3 through your wonderful book and it speaks volumes to me! I stumbled upon it at my local library. I am 57 and I still work full-time in a very demanding (and now boring) career in education administration. Thinking my restlessness was the job, I began in the last year spreading my resume throughout the state, and with great success. The interesting thing is that I want nothing to do with the wonderful opportunities that have been offered to me. I realize, finally, that my soul is hungry, and yet another set of demands, regardless of the financial and ego gain, is not who/where I need to be. It’s going to take some time to sort this out, but your insights are giving me the touchstones I need to get clear. I’m glad you had a great therapist to guide you; I believe in therapy, but a highly-regarded professional that I saw for a few sessions, simply said I “needed to get out more.”
Thank you, thank you for your courage and for sharing your metaphoric life along the Hudson. I’m not sure exactly where you are, but my daughter was born in the Newburgh area, and my favorite place to visit was Woodstock. It’s a special area….I miss it.
June 27, 2011 at 3:01 pm
Three fourths of the way thru the book, I wish it wouldn’t end. In 1997 I moved out of the city of Seattle. Still had my crazy business until this Dec 2010 I retired, quit, stopped, however we want to say that. Loving this year and your book has been wonderful support! Thank you so much for being there for me.
June 29, 2011 at 9:13 am
Welcome, Kathy. How kind you are to write and say all of this. Thank you. I am on the edge of the Berkshires, in Columbia County, so not so far from where you describe.
Welcome, Kathleen. I know about “crazy business” and am glad to hear you have found a way to say goodbye to yours. The move sounds very exciting. I have never looked back.
July 9, 2011 at 1:06 am
I just finished your book today and realized I made a mistake. I bought it for my Kindle instead of buying it at the bookstore. Now I have to go back and buy it in hard copy so that I can put it on my “special” bookshelf of keeper books (along with “Gifts from the Sea”, “Care of the Soul”, “The Artist’s Way” and “A Trail Through Leaves”, among others). Which means I have to read it again so I can do my own highlights to come back and revisit. I found so many parallels with my life, except I retired from a stressful job, instead of just leaving, but gardening was always my great yearning for solitude and peace, and indeed, that’s exactly what I’ve found. So happy that you have too. And my piece of gardening heaven in Alaska is even more remote than yours. Wish I could share it with you… Aren’t we lucky?? (blessed, fortunate…whatever you want to call this continuing growth). Thank you for sharing your lovely, insightful memoir.
July 11, 2011 at 9:42 am
Thank you, Sharon — and maybe you want to get the copy from me all signed and gift-wrapped? (Totally your choice, but just a thought. They’re here.)
So nice of you to tell me your story (our story!) all the way from Alaska. Wow.
July 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm
My husband and I are taking a trip down a new road…leaving behind all that is safe and comfortable to us and starting new in a place somewhat familiar but still strange. Surrounded by people who take enjoyment out of making others miserable, we decided to sell our small home-based business, sell our house and move to a place “in the woods” not too far from here, yet far enough away that we do not have to see these people again. We have good days and bad days as we prepare for the move. My husband has lived in this house for 43 years and then in the house next door for the previous 19. I have lived here for 23. Moving is not something we WANT to do, but something we HAVE to do to stay sane and live in peace. I happened to be in Borders for their closing sale, and wandered by your book. The title caught my attention. I am hoping that in time we will find the peace and serenity that you have found. Thanks for the inspiration.
July 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm
I am so happy that the book called out to you, Jean. Transition is hard — and exciting, and terrifying, and joyous, and everything all at once. I wish you lots of peace down the road apiece, and hope you will stay in touch.
Patrick's Garden says
August 26, 2011 at 12:53 am
I spent 15 years in the crazy ad agency biz before landing a dream job as a global marcom director for one of GE’s insurance companies. That was before a tumor in my spinal chord ruptured and left me a qualiplegic. So I had to walk a way but I am a better man for it today.
September 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm
Thanks for saying hello, Patrick. I just had a visit to your site and it seems as if you have not let any limitations limit the importance of gardening in your life, nor your connection to it. Beautiful. (And 15 window boxes? Yikes.)
September 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm
I just went to your site as well and read your story. You seem like a dear man who continues to reach out to others through his gardening (I have bookmarked you!). As a fellow Master Gardener, I have long been intrigued by how gardens can inspire, heal, and reach others — regardless of physical (or other) limitations. So I am inspired by your story. Personally, I think you should write a book on therapeutic gardening. (Don’t you love being told what to do!) There is so much potential and need for research and writing in this area. Although circumstances are different, all of us must face the reality that someday we will all go down the path of declining health and/or physical ability. Adaptive gardening is a “hot topic.”
Sending good thoughts your way!
October 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm
Just found you on the web and am going to order your book.I love to garden and have often thought that if I had left my work in the medical field and gone to a horticultural school, that I would have been sooo much happier in my work. I am retired now and love to get out in the yard and “dig” and pull. The feel of the soil is truly theraputic. I will always take The Road Less Traveled from now on.
October 17, 2011 at 6:49 am
Hi, Susan, and so glad you did find me! Stupid as it sounds, I didn’t know there were horticultural schools when I was in high school/seeking a college etc. It was much later when I put 2 and 2 together about the botanical sciences and horticulture and so on, and that there were possibilities for me in them. Not a day goes by when i don’t wish I had the education I would have gotten on that track — being self-taught has its limitations!
December 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm
I thank you, I have found myself wanting to leave my job in health care after 30 years and raising children. I love to garden, the beach , so my garden is near the beach… I love to write and kayak. I find myself saying if only I could just do these things ..I would be happy. I have four more years to my pension. I feel empty without the hope of having creativity in my daily life. I want to go into my garden or head out on my kayak and feel like its only been 15 min………when its really three hours. You are a true inspiration and a welcomed contributor to my dream.
January 3, 2012 at 7:22 am
Thank you Mary, and happy new year. Love hearing your story, and imagining your life near the shore. Hope to see you soon again this year.
Norma Nelson says
January 8, 2012 at 10:40 am
Just wanted to let you know I loved your book, it’s a great book for anyone leaving there job and find themselves with OK now what. I really loved the part about the open schedule I really LMAO because that was me. You are really an inspiration for me to just keep planting and get past the snakes. I moved to an acre in the desert and wow where to start and what to plant can’t wait. Thanks for all you information.
January 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm
Your book is delightful! I wanted to head for the country many years ago but my city-bred family out-voted me so I had to wait til the children were grown and my husband of over 45 years was gone before I headed for my peaceful place. The old bones don’t allow me to do all I would like, but I DO have my roses and irises, a raised-bed organic vegetable garden, my compost, my worm condo, my dwarf fruit trees along with blueberries and strawberries and my darling little Welsh corgi (dog) to herd me in the right direction. In winter, quilting keeps me busy and happy. I feel blessed right now at a time in my life when I thought I’d find myself a heartbroken useless widow. Instead, I’m busier than ever with my quilts and country life and yet I’ve found some peace in my sunset years and I’m even eating healthier than ever. I’m glad you found yours.
January 31, 2012 at 8:05 am
Thanks, Quiltbea; how kind of you. I love the image of you being herded around by that Corgi! (Hilarious dogs.) Very nice-sounding world there indeed. See you soon again.
team gloria says
January 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm
we are still inspired by your story – and your beautiful blog.
for living out loud.
March 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm
Margaret, your wonderful book has hit the jugular of baby boomers like me who are angsting not whether to be free of the gilded corporate cage, but when. For me, I literally have drreams of windsurfing, my lifelong passion that is continually denied me by work and geography.
One big issue for me, at age 51, is what to do about health insurance if I am to live my dream and bolt from the corporate life after 30 years. How do you deal with that? A high-deductible policy? No insurance at all? This is related to the larger issue of income. How much is enough to live a modest lifestyle in the country until social security, 401K proceeds and family inheritances kick in in another decade or two?
Your memoir is beautifully rendered — a book I couldn’t put down until I reached the end. Thanks for sharing your story.
March 22, 2012 at 6:57 am
Hi, Windserf. I bought insurance through my local Chamber of Commerce group, since I am still working though self-employed through my own business. Thank you for your very kind words.
You too, Kate; how very kind. So glad you found the websites (and like me are going to “go plant something” — always helps!).
Kate the Pony Lady says
March 12, 2012 at 11:45 am
Oh, Margaret, (using your first name seems natural after just finishing your amazing book and quickly thinking of you as friend, family, fellow garden and cat lover.) I do not even have words to describe the positive effect your words have had on me. And now to be directed to your websites…well, just a bit of heaven on earth.
At 67 and recovering from a knee replacement (did not go well) I was mopping a bit at the restrictions of infirmity and age. As our ridiculously mild winter and early signs of spring here in the Chicago area are causing strong flashes of “go plant something” throughout my being, your book did NOT help but was just what I needed to instill hope.
I look forward to many visits here. Thank you for sharing your amazing story.
Judith McKnight says
March 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm
Margaret, Just finished your book. Couldn’t put it down. It reminded me of myself in a way ans made me understand some things. Several years ago, my husband died suddenly and my parents died shortly after that. I have one son who lived along way from me. One morning I just callled him up to find me a house. Sure did suprise him and me .too. So I quit my job (hair dresser) of 32 years, sold the farm and my husbands buffalos I was trying to take care of, the house and many vehicles. Hired a moving van for furniture,put a few things in the car and Rowdy(my husbands blue heeler dog)and away I went to a house I hadn’t seen and a small town. I left Lubbock, Texas and arrived in North Dakota on Mothers Day 2010. Took three days of driving. Longest trip I ever made by myself so I was very apprehensive. I had started the Bird Biology class from Cornell. I sat on the floor and studied until my furniture arrived. I felt free and like a big burden was lifted from my shoulders. Even the harsh winter didn’t bother me. It is one hour to walmarts! Fargo is three hours away. For some odd reason I don’t even miss shopping. Loved your version of the country haircut! tried one this week and all I wanted was a trim but it is so short, I look like a porcupine when I wake up in the morning. If you are ever this direction(New Rockford) stop in at my sons bakery for a cup of coffee and doughnut. Look forward to your web site. Judith
Bruce Nixon says
April 13, 2012 at 6:48 am
Just finished your wonderful book at 0345AM woke early well rested after gardening yesterday, not at all disturbed to be awake at this hour, something I got from reading the book about sleep and angst. Anyway only had a few pages left to read had been saving it knowing your book would end too soon. And so it ended, but not without gardening some peace into this 50 year old, that I had become untethered from, it is all marked up with underlining, lines upon lines that I identified with and a joy to read. Thanks for sharing your world. I had skipped gardening for several years and began early this year and I find that I am not keeping/tending the garden it is, as I allow is keeping/tending me, opening me. And your book, “and I shall have some peace there,” is rich compost for the soul.
And then I read this poem by Dorothy Parker entitled Lullaby
Sleep, pretty lady, the night is enfolding you; Drift, and so lightly, on crystalline streams. Wrapped in its perfumes, the darkness is holding you; Starlight bespangles the way of your dreams. Chorus the nightingales, wistfully amorous: Blessedly quiet, the blare of the day. All the sweet hours may your visions be glamorous- Sleep, pretty lady, as long as you may.
Sleep, pretty lady, the night shall be still for you; Silvered and silent, it watches you rest. Each little breeze, in its eagerness, will for you Murmur the melodies ancient and blest. So in the midnight does happiness capture us; Morning is dim with another day’s tears. Give yourself sweetly to images rapturous- Sleep, pretty lady, a couple of years.
Sleep, pretty lady, the world awaits day with you; Girlish and golden, the slender young moon. Grant the fond darkness its mystical way with you: Morning returns to us ever too soon. Roses unfold, in their loveliness, all for you: Blossom the lilies for hope of your glance. When you’re awake, all the men go and fall for you- Sleep, pretty lady, and give me a chance.
((Funny to me when keeping peace with myself it spills over to others and being single, that none partnered state, so many inquiring mines like to question me about, is a none issue, peace is a great soul mate and you get the whole world as a lover.))
Waiting on your next book or next sharing of where life leads you. Thanks again for the inspiration.
May 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm
Thanks, Bruce, and also Judith. Not sure where these lovely and very kind comments were hiding all this time! Sometimes the technology hides things from me, I think. :) I am really touched that you have shared your stories in return. Beautiful.
Helen, Darcy and Bingley says
August 15, 2012 at 4:49 am
Dear Margaret Just to say that I have come back from holiday having read your marvelous book ‘and I shall have some peace there’. I read it in 3 sittings and have made notes on some of the many powerful things you had to say. I loved it and although I don’t want to to lend MY copy out (I am selfish with my favourite books), I am telling my friends all about it. best wishes Helen
August 20, 2012 at 10:44 am
Thank you, Helen. So nice of you to help spread the word!
Rob Terry says
September 7, 2012 at 11:33 am
I came across your book by means of an email promotion from Peaceful Valley Farms last Saturday morning and after a week of self-reflection about where I am in my life and where I really want to be, I took this as a sign. I quickly went to my local library and happily found a copy of your book on the shelf. I spent the weekend fully engrossed in your book and came out with a new perspective on my life and a knowing that I am not the only one dealing with the internal conflict of just working to make money and doing what I really want to do in life. I am self-employed and run my own architectural design business. I started doing this over 10 years ago as a step to becoming more in charge of my life, like others I also don’t like people telling me what to do. Although it has become very successful and the income is more than I imagined it would be, it is not fullfilling anymore and I feel I am just working for the money. Even though I have the freedom to pretty much do whatever I want to do, I find myself unhappy and unfulfilled most days. I hoften have the same feeling that I might dry up and blow away some day if I continue down this path. I am happily married, have two kids and am extremely blessed with a supportive wife. I am fulfilled with that part of my life, but need to be doing something that has purpose and is rewarding to me, something that makes a difference. My life’s passion is also gardening, more like organic farming, and my dream is to move from Connecticut to Vermont and run a small organic farm. I want to get away from the rat race of my day to day life and be out in nature, working the land. No meetings, no deadlines, no unreasonable clients who want it yesterday, no 14 hour days in the office. My yoga is also gardening (funny I just said that to someone on the Friday before I read your book) and I do it at the end of the day, when I can, to relax and rejuvinate. I have been on a mission these past several years to grow as much of our own organic food as I can and being a family of vegetarians this has been an experience that has been both rewarding and humbling. My dream is to take this to the next level, to live out in the country in natura and grow food. Your book, although a little different than my situation, had the same meaning for me. It was an inspsiration for finding myself again and living with purpose. Thank you for sharing your story!! Rob
September 11, 2012 at 10:07 am
Hi, Laurel. Katrina makes me happy, too!
So nice of you to say hello, Rob, and share your tender story. Thank you.
September 10, 2012 at 7:33 pm
An email telling me that a new blog from Katrina brings me happiness. It forces me to slow the speed of life down in order to breath in new awareness, insight, and inspiration so that I can begin again with new appreciation of what I already have.
Owning a book you recommend would be great! Hope to be reading Happier at Home!
October 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm
Hi Margaret – I just recently purchased your book and I am really enjoying it! Unlike you, I was “kicked out” of the corporate world after a 32 year career in banking via “downsizing” Gardening had always been my favorite pass time, however now that I have the time, bad knees are keeping me from participating at the moment. So I will garden vicariously through you until I get back on my knees, so to speak. I love your website and enjoyed your lecture when you came to Baltimore and spoke to the Maryland Horticultural Sociaty. Keep doing what you do!
October 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm
It was a great slide presentation and talk at the Woodstock garden club. So much so, I bought your book and enjoy reading it. I transformed myself from a flatlander to a local in Woodstock and found love in gardening. Though, unlike you, I was not a great success in the career ladder, I also lived and worked in New York 32 years. ( coincident), and in 50 something, exiled to create a new landscape in my life. Funnily enough, my late father back in Japan in the late 60s became a serious organic farmer wanted cure the world with confry. In his death bed, he confessed that he was happiest in the last 15years of his life. Nevertheless, I loved your sense of humor in language in your garden.
November 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm
Thanks, Tomoko. How nice of you to share your story — and I had a great time in Woodstock. What a beautiful spot, and a great group! Nice of you to say hello.
Hi, Cathy. How nice of you to come say hi, too. Baltimore was a really lively group — what a turnout. You must have some serious gardeners down that way! :) Hope to see you again.
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.