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. Rachel B. F. says:

    Hello, Margaret! 1st-time commenter:

    Great winter topics could include:

    1. Greenhorn-level floral design on a weekly budget — a great way to beat the winter blues + focus on subtlety, color, and innovation-within-conventions

    2. Gifts from the garden — inexpensive but *special* treasures (dried flowers/seeds? red-twigged Cornus arrangement, fragrant cedar, etc?)

    3. Potting shed organization tips! What to save, what to throw out.


  2. Donalyn says:

    Hmmmmm – I always enjoy the photography, and I’m always looking for more recipes using fresh veg from the garden, and as we are currently working to convert ourselves completely to organic practices, more about that would be welcome info. Webinars would be a lot of fun I bet – hope you do give that a try!

  3. Ann says:

    1- Landscape design. More theories and such on how you go about planning a garden.

    2- Diseases and pitfalls, signs to look for.

    3- How to grow edible landscape plants. I second the above comment about the difficulties of integrating these into your regular beds without it looking like a hot mess!

  4. Betty says:

    1-I love the article on repurposing things to make garden gates. I love to repurpose things and assign them to my garden areas.
    2-I love seeing the outside brought inside. I have always been a voyeur when it comes to seeing the inside of someone’s home.
    3-I am a sucker for books. I love the ones you share with us. Keep up the good work and the peek into your garden and home!

  5. Jean says:

    I’m not going to read other comments, so if I duplicate others’ ideas, pardon, please. I’d like to know 1) how to build a frog pond 2) what to wear on my feet in the garden (currently it’s old socks and old lace up oxfords) 3) the art of sprouting seeds for winter use and what kinds of seeds are best

  6. Sharon says:

    phytoremediation, how to add structure and missing nutrients to soil which is [gasp!] too organic, finding inspiration for garden design

  7. Sharon says:

    I always like to read about low cost, do-it-yourself gardening/hardscaping projects. Also, more about choosing and maintaining native plants – love to know the history behind the natives I plant in my own garden. Need to know more about mulching options – have heard so many bad things about wood mulch – what are the practical alternatives? Have you ever thought about doing a web TV show from your beautiful home and property? Bet I’m not the only one that would love that. Thank you, Margaret, for all your help and inspiration.

  8. Tom Mann says:

    1) How to care for container Blueberries

    2) Oleander – when and how to prune them

    3) How to get Bermuda grass out of an Asparagus bed.

    Thanks for the chance at winning your book, Margaret.

  9. Gayla Templeton says:

    1. Companion planting, Not just what looks good together although that’s a biggie. Also what grows well together.

    2. Inside gardening in the winter when that’s all the green I get with recomendations on what is pretty and easy to grow. I just bought a little pot of roses a week ago and it is in bad shape already. This week I brought home a Thanksgiving cactus and it is looking like it might be a survivor. All grocery produce dept impulse buys.

    3. Cat and creatures………..aphids to deer that are hanging out in your area. I love all the frog pics.

  10. Carol says:

    Hi, Margaret! Three things I really enjoy reading about are plants for winter interest, attracting birds to the garden, and recipes from the garden.

  11. JJ says:

    -hints for mixing edibles and ornamentals in the same bed/container
    -reviving an established garden
    -hints for keeping a bird-friendly garden

    Looking forward to another year of garden guidance!

  12. Uli says:

    I love your site and the diverse advice you offer (and really enjoyed reading “A Way to Garden”). Some of the things I would love to see more coverage about:

    1.) The specific tools and equipment (brand names and sources) you use (whether to weed or to prune or to hold up your dahlies, etc.) and how you maintain them/keep them organized;

    2.) Effective pest control (and I mean the big ones, like deer, which I know you have succeeded in banishing with your fencing, but maybe a guest post about “deer-proof” plantings and natural deer repellants?);

    3.) Your writing process (yes, I realize this is a gardening blog, but if, for example, you are inspired by what’s outside your window as you write, it can fit in, no?)



  13. Lynn says:

    Ever since I discovered your blog, I have found so much useful information even though I have been gardening for many years. I love the fact that you live near my area (sort of), but you have more sun. Those Great Lakes create a lot of cloudy days.
    I would love to hear about how to design a veg garden for front lawns (poor soil, but lots of sun); creating rustic trellies and other garden art from natural or repurposed items; how to fill in gardens with layers so that plants are not just sitting singly by themselves. A fourth item would be discussion on the best mulches to use and where to find them.
    I love your blog, and I love hearing about Jack the Demon Cat (I have a couple of my own!).

  14. mariann says:

    I love your blog- it is part of my routine- almost daily. Three things, echoing others I am sure.

    1. More about Native species

    2. Critter wars- Deer, voles primarily

    3. And Herbs, more information about herbs

    Thank you so much!

  15. Irena says:

    1. I would like you to mention the upcoming events not only in the “Events” area, but also remind us about them in the blog.

    2. More about houseplants.

    3. Your vegetable patch – is it big enough to support you through the year? Plans for expansion? What about plant rotation?

    And by the way, that bokashi composting has come to my attention not only from the below comment, but also in a couple of books I recently read. It would be interesting to find out what you know and think about it.

  16. Kelly Ash says:

    I would like to hear more about:

    1. Planning and designing a Kitchen Garden

    2. Coastal Garden Plants (ie. salt tolerant yet still pretty)

    3. Soil Mycorrhizae (I know I am showing just how much of a garden geek I am here!) :)

  17. helen aylott says:

    Dear Margaret,


    More on herb gardening, planting, and using.

    When moving to a new house (more importantly), a new garden, HOW and WHERE do you start?

    Kitchen gardening…… planning, and designing.

  18. kate says:

    Margaret, thank-you for writing such an enjoyable, entertaining, educational blog for all of us gardening enthusiasts!

    It’s been fun reading all of the comments and suggestions offered by your readers. (I especially loved one contributor’s idea of opening up a discussion on “worst
    gardening mistakes” and “lessons learned” from them..

    As my own three areas of interest:

    1- Natural methods to discourage moles, voles, and the snakes that often come with
    them. The same for skunks too who seem to have lost their shyness in daytime hours.

    2. Basic landscape/garden design and how to begin to approach a seemingly overwhelming task. I have no idea what to do or even how to begin the process. (One acre, full-sun, flat, treeless property consisting of weeds and rocks… along with those moles, voles, snakes, and skunks.)

    3. Anything related to attracting and feeding the more desirable wildlife —- especially birds. Margaret, you are such a wonderful writer and a captivating storyteller. I’m reading and savoring your “Peace” book now and hope you will continue to share more of your memories and personal stories of both human and wildlife encounters when you have the time.


  19. Joyce says:

    I do love your blog! You are a true inspiration!

    1. How to deal with mosquitoes that attack the minute one goes outside. (I fog first, then apply deet, and then suffer until I can shower) There must be a better way….

    2. Developing enough nerve to pull out healthy shrubs simply because new, better varieties have come along, and what to do about the huge gaps until the small shrubs grow.

    3. Ideas on how to deal with really messy and weedy neighbor’s yards encroaching on one’s garden, short of doing triple work (they’d be delighted!)

    But I will love anything you write about!!

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