help me make winter plans, win ‘a way to garden’

frost on perennials

EVERY YEAR AROUND THIS TIME I ask the same question: What shall we do this winter—during gardening’s supposed offseason? A hoarfrost on the perennials and grass the other morning (above) reminded me that you-know-what will close in sometime soon, so what do you think? In return for your planning help, I’m offering a chance to win a signed copy of my collectible first book, “A Way to Garden.”

First, a Word of Thanks

IF NOT FOR YOUR 26,000 comments so far, and millions of page views, and your other encouragement in the form of emails and newsletter subscriptions and Facebook page “likes” and yes, even notes and treats some of you send in the regular mail to Jack the Demon Cat, I would never have written the 900 stories to date (this is Number 901!) since starting A Way to Garden in March 2008. A giant thanks for being my inspiration.

Now Back to the Winter Plans…

ON MY END, the book manuscript I have due at the New Year—yes, it’s a garden book—is taking much of my attention, of course, but I should be done after the holidays (or else).

I finally completed my last of more than 30 events of 2011. Lectures will resume in late winter, with workshops and garden tours spring onward, and I’ll post a full schedule next month. I keep wondering if a monthly chat (with audio, I mean, like a “webinar” or conference call format) would be a good thing to add…

But what about here, on the blog?

Of course we’ll talk about seed-catalog offerings (can you believe how many are already online or in the mail?). I’ll do more plants profiles, and continue giveaways of books and other things. I’ll recommend useful links of recent articles I’ve enjoyed, dish up the occasional recipe, and complain about the weather as needed—oh, and of course we can laugh at Andre doodles together.

But I’d love to know what subject(s) are of most interest to you, particularly—is it a particular type of garden, or group of plants, or technique or what? Indoor plants, edibles, or outdoor ornamentals? Or is it related topics, like the environment or nature or food, that make the mix work for you? If there were three stories you could assign to me, what would they be about?

How to Win ‘A Way to Garden’

TO ENTER TO WIN THE COPY of “A Way to Garden,” all you have to do is answer that question:
If there were three stories you could assign to me, what would they be about?

I’ll draw the winner at random after entries close at midnight Saturday, December 3. I’ll use the tool at random [dot] org to pick, and notify the person by email.

I’m pretty much of a pushover on these drawings as you regulars know—so I’ll even accept an answer that’s easier. If you can’t think of three things you’d like me to write about, how about just one?

Good luck to all.

  1. Adriana says:

    I would like a short cut to root cellaring. Natural cold storage of fruits and vegetables often require plenty of planing.

    I share my garden with critters but I have declared war on moles and voles and I am not winning. I will try anything suggested.

    I am always open for any kind of garden problems successfully solved, solutions found
    and naturally gravitate to your beautiful garden photos.

  2. Kathleen Dobson-Piasecki says:

    hmm. How to save my knees from wear and tear. I really don’t like wearing knee pads.
    Using your own urine for fertizer- good idea or not. Insert laugh.
    I got lots of dandelions in my upper lawn, but don’t use chemicals. Anyway to deal with those naturally would be great. I don’t mind them but they drive my hubby crazy. I don’t care about lawn, but so many men do. What’s up with that.
    Hope you finish your new book, can’t wait to read it!

  3. liz says:

    Hi Margaret
    Love your blog, loved your book as did the friends I gave it to, and really wish I lived in your area soI coud see your lovely garden in person. You have been a source of endless inspiration for me thank you so much
    . My question at least a few of them:
    1 I recenttly tried ground cherries and wat to know how to grow them
    2How to help a wisteria that refuses to bloom
    3.How to keep the neibourhood cats fr4om using my flowerbeds as a litterbox (I tried mothballs as a friend recommended but they repelled me too
    Have a great winter

  4. Jennifer says:

    I love your blog whatever you’re writing about!

    4 suggestions:
    Love your recipes/kitchen tips (like parsley logs and fridge-pickles). More winter favorites for frozen garden produce?
    Updates on wild fauna (like your podcast about not squishing late-season caterpillars).
    Anything about nursing houseplants through the cold/dry/dark/scale-infested months.
    Any and all bright, sunny, happy garden photos you didn’t already get a chance to share.

    Enjoy the winter rest!

  5. LiriopePisces says:

    Things I’d like to hear about this winter:

    1. Individual profiles of your favorite flowering plants
    2. Tropical gardening (maybe take a trip somewhere warm and see new plants)
    3. Winter flowers that you can go grow in your zone (are there any?)
    4. What changes in the garden you want to make next year (plants, hardscaping, etc)
    5. Maybe mentor a child to love a garden/gardening? That could be fun for a long series of posts.

    I’d love a copy of your book!

  6. Judy Barton says:

    Wow–only THREE topics? Goodness, could I make a list…

    How to tastefully incorporate art/statuary in the garden so it doesn’t just look like a bunch of clutter.

    How to rid the garden of moles. They are destroying everything. I have tried most every ‘solution’ on the market.

    How to create shade in a sunny yard. My soil is clay and there is a shelf of rock that is only a couple of feet below the surface. Trees die when the roots reach the rock.

    thank you!

  7. Anne Williams says:

    ~Plant intelligence
    ~Winter (ice & snow!) gardening, pruning, plants that perform in winter,, interesting winter interest & planning/planting for it
    ~An article aimed at converting non-gardeners..a soul-business report!

    Thank you for this opportunity, Margaret. I enjoy your words, and I am thrilled and fascinated by your career/lifestyle change. I have loved plants as far back as I can remember, always. In an old life I was a designer in package design/advertising. Been a paid gardener for over 13 years now, hard work on this old body, but I LOVE it, and the hard work is good for me. So is loving my job, lucky me! Getting paid to garden, I still can’t believe it sometimes. My own garden has had to toughen up, the novelty kind of wears off after the first 8 hours! Working in someone else’s, I mean. Sometimes even watering is too much after work. Working with plants is so much more real, to me, than running the corporate track…there’s intelligence, true beauty,…real & interesting stories! So much going on in the garden! Life!

  8. Scarlett says:

    I would love to read a story about how to build a retaining wall (any tips would be great). I would also like to read about handling garden pests, little guys, like slugs (yuck). And then I would love to read any of your other stores, they’re all so great.
    Thanks Margaret.

  9. Alexa says:

    1. Gardening as an extension/expression (for better and for worse) of self
    2. Garden Taste – how to be discerning but open-minded (in your own garden and when viewing others)
    3. Gardens, gardeners, garden writers, horticulturalists, landscape designers, artists, etc. who teach you
    4 Ethnobotany — if it interests you. It strikes me as somewhat woo-woo, and I’d love to learn more through your lens

  10. Jacquelyn says:

    “A Way to Garden”, found by accident at my local library, was my intro to you. It was immediately one of my all time favorites and I have well over a hundred; I recommended it to many! Brownie points? LOL!! Anyway…

    1. Reflections /lessons learned by your many years at your garden.
    2. Thoughts re: cultivars vs. species.
    3. How to plan for garden longevity.

  11. Deb says:

    Margaret means inspiration! Three story ideas:
    1. I’d like tips on successful greenhouse use year-round (we are the new owners of a small 8×10′ greenhouse from Costco and have vented our dryer to it. My potted plants out there are blooming but the condensation inside could be measured by the bucketful. Was this a bad idea?)
    2. Our small lot is overwhelmed with perennial morning glory and buttercup which has spread from the neighbors. Permanent flower beds have to be dug out every 2-3 years to rid them of the stuff. Is there a way short of chemical holocaust to deal with these evil weeds?
    3. Ummm.. how about yard art? Tips for incorporating into the yard. When is it too much??

  12. Elaine says:

    I would like to hear your ideas on changing gardens, both veggie and flower to make it possible to continue to garden as age creeps up on us. At 95, my mother still loves to garden but her habits have had to change over the years. I am trying to create new garden habits that I can maintain for years to come. What are your thoughts and suggestions?

    What is the one tool you could not be without in your garden?

    And what do you find to be your most practical footwear for tromping around in the gardens?

  13. Lisa says:

    You always have something fresh and new to teach me – so I savor the surprises.
    * I’m interested in learning even more about the unwanted insect pests you find, and new ways of dealing with them – the links you provide are always helpful (you keep me from having to go down the “rabbit hole” called internet too often!)
    * Keep posting about your new “favorites” – especially the ground covers – living mulch – and any new shrubs you find of interest.
    * Perhaps your thoughts on native v. “imported” and whether or not it’s important to you when selecting something new. Also, keep mentioning your favorite combinations when creating your vignettes.
    * Do you grow any garden “thugs”? If yes, why. I grow an Ampelopsis up my downspout by my back porch, and by September its loaded with purple and turqouise berries – and I get to have morning coffee with the catbirds and mockingbirds that LOVE to nibble the fruit not 3 feet away from me. What sane human could give this up?
    Shamelessly wishing I win, but also glad for another opportunity to say “thank you”!

  14. Lisa Winters says:

    1. Under appreciated houseplants.
    2. Theme gardens such as Italian, Colonial, cottage, etc.
    3. Any stories on visits to an arboretum, great park, etc.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    1) Our backyard is in ‘do-over’ mode – a blank slate. I’ve created the line between future bed and grass. What do i do next?
    2) The fall’s heavy rains revealed a more urgent need now, than ever to create a ‘hardscape plan’ for drainage. What do I do first? After evaluation, what parts can I do versus calling in an expert?
    3) I dug up some of my favorite plants in fall to see if i can care for their hibernation inside our warm home. Which plants will this work for and, what are some helpful hints?
    4) can i plant herb seeds in planters at home in winter? If so, which ones are more successful? Any tips?

  16. Sebette says:

    I would love to see posts on integrated pest management- that should get you many many posts.
    Also how to at least slow down weeds and grass in a long gravel driveway. Am using salt and vinegar now but it isn’t as effective as I would like.

  17. Margaret says:

    ENTRIES ARE NOW CLOSED. Using the random number-generating tool at random [dot] org, I chose the lucky winner, Mary-Ellen, and notified her by email.

    It will takes me days/weeks to sort through all your amazing suggestions, but what I hope to do once I make a bit more headway on my book manuscript (deadline!) is start to really answer the ones that multiple people pointed to — to help this feedback guide some of the topics I cover in the year ahead.

    You are all so supportive, and I thank you!

  18. Sally says:

    Congratulations Mary-Ellen, enjoy, enjoy your very own A Way to Garden.

    I am looking forward to learning more from you Margaret over the long winter.

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