spring will come (and so will my new old book, ‘a way to garden’)

TWENTY-ONE YEARS ago almost to the day, my first garden book, “A Way to Garden,” was published. Maybe a year and a half ago, when I realized it was about to turn 20 but was really out of date (and long out of print), I said to my friend Andrew Beckman that we ought to do something about that.

“I always loved that book,” said Andrew. I always loved that old book of mine, too, and in late April of 2019 I hope you will love its all-new incarnation that we have conjured together. (That’s the 2019 cover up top.)

Andrew and I had worked together for many years at Martha Stewart Living, and he is one of the best gardeners I know. These days he is Publisher at Timber Press, garden book specialists.

With Andrew’s encouragement I set about the do-over, and with help from photographer Mick Hales supplemented my own photos…and here we almost are.

I’LL LET YOU KNOW when it is time to have a proper look—again, publication date isn’t till the end of April—and give you a chance to read some parts ahead of time, even. But for now, just this thought from the preface, where I write about how much had changed since the first edition in the plant palette, and awareness of, say, pollinators’ needs, and so many other such shifts both in tastes and consciousness.

And then I say this:

“One more thing, or actually two, have not changed even a little: I garden because I cannot help myself. I hope that you may feel that calling.
Most of all: this book is still titled ‘A Way to Garden’ because it is not the only way, just my way. It’s the one way I have gradually sorted out despite all the shifts in trends and technology and even the taxonomic order of things, as tried-and-true plants were renamed (and sometimes then un-renamed for dizzying good measure).
Whatever pest or predicament is thrown at me, onward I do dig, and most of all: weed. Perhaps mine is a way to garden that will work for you, too. I hope so.”

Yup, that’s me: still weeding, decades later.

More book news in March sometime, or thereabouts, but today just a quiet little “almost-hooray.” (All together now: “Almost-hooray!”)

pre-order possibilities

  1. Jennifer says:

    “Almost hurray”! I am looking forward to this! I listen to your podcasts and check our blog weekly. Your curiosity and good sense and experience have helped me, as have your expert guests.

    1. margaret says:

      You are sweet. You and Ben might even be entitled to a free early copy based on your putting up with all my incessant pre-dawn confabs. : )

  2. Carol dvorak says:

    I’m looking forward to buying your book. I love books written as a narrative. It feels like my friend is having a conversation with me. Like you, I have to be in my garden. I love it.

    1. margaret says:

      Thanks for your support, Peggy! I am excited about the original one for which I named my website and podcast to be out again.

  3. Kate says:

    Congratulations Margaret! Looking forward to the updated edition. Thank you as ever for your blog and gardening wisdom that you share with all of us!

    1. margaret says:

      Thank you, Kate, for the words of support. It is so good for me in my rural life to have the community of readers like yourself to spur me on to keep learning, and writing.

  4. Joeth Barlas says:

    SENDING MY HOORAHS! Look forward to your book update — I have them all, and “your way” is “way” excellent. Also love seeing the flower photo with the pale yellow pollinator — all flower pix should now show “who’s calling…” I notice such pix are creeping into some catalogs.

    If you don’t know them, I’d recommend you check out the wonderful work being done by the folks (headed by Dan Kittredge) at Bionutrient Food Association (bionutrient.org) operating globally out of eastern Massachusetts. They are among those leading the charge on soil science, regenerative agriculture, and nutrional food. You can check out some of their videos on YouTube

    1. margaret says:

      I have been reading their email, Joeth, and will invite someone to come talk about it on the show maybe. Thanks for the nudge.

  5. Debbie says:

    Yaayy. Twenty one years ago, almost to the day… this was my very first “garden book” purchase! I now have a small and cherished library, but this is still the one that’s dog-eared and dirty. Thank you Margaret for making me a gardener.

    1. margaret says:

      My first one was James Underwood Croskett’s “The Victory Garden,” and there have been many since. You are welcome, and thank you for your encouragement.

      1. Eisenreich Chris says:

        I, too, still have my copy of Crockett’s Victory Garden ( with the newspaper clipping of his death taped to the inside cover). My husband gave it to me for my 26th birthday , even though we lived in an apartment for another year.

        And I still have “A Way to Garden” – sitting right here on my coffee table at this moment !! I have the old 1992 Newsday article clipping ” Throwing in the Trowel” inside the back cover of that one !!

  6. Joanne C Toft says:

    Great Fun! Looking forward to a few sneak peaks – how we see a bit of writing from it along the way to spring. It will be fun to have a new read for the spring!

  7. Carol says:

    Margaret, you have made my day! I bought your book when I started my first garden, twenty years (and four houses) ago. Your book guided so many of my gardening decisions down through the years (I had never heard of hellebores until I read your book, and now I have hundreds of them!). Sadly, I loaned it to a friend and never got it back – and then discovered that it was out of print when I tried to replace it. I am thrilled to hear that you are releasing an updated version! I plan to buy two copies this time, keeping one in a safe place as a back-up!

    1. margaret says:

      How kind of you to tell me this tale, Carol. Yes, remember when hellebores were “new”? Not so much now, but I still love mine. Now we just have to be patient till April.

  8. Sara says:

    Let’s just say that if Marie Kondo ever comes to my house to clean out my bookshelves, she’ll never get my copy of “Away”, nor “Parables”! I cherish both, which have been on my desk since they came out. What a gift you have, Margaret, to be able to inform, educate and delight. Thank you!

    P.S. I’m sure I’ll want a copy of the “new-and-improved”, as well!

    1. margaret says:

      If Marie K. ever comes here…well, that would be a showdown. Not sure she’d “get” my so-called “collections” of stuff everywhere. :) Thanks, Sara.

  9. Naomi D says:

    I was closed minded years back. I thought, no, that book really won’t relate to me down here in the northernmost outpost of the Caribbean, New Orleans. I come here at least monthly but more often weekly, lurking usually, rarely commenting. I appreciate your voice, and reading all these years it is one of an old friend never met. This time, I won’t be foolish – I’ll get your book and read it, over and over, just as I do many of your entries here. Thank you for all you give.

  10. Molly says:

    Hooray! You and James Crockett sit side by side in my bookcase. What a pleasure it will be to have a new version of your wonderful original.

    1. margaret says:

      I still have all my Crockett books, too, Molly. I loved how they were organized by month so you could grasp the all-important “when to do what” aspect.

  11. Catherine says:

    Hooray, hooray, hooray! I have searched in vain for your first book for years (duh…out of print) but I won’t miss out again! When and where can I pre-order it?
    Can’t wait to get my hands on it….

    1. margaret says:

      In March sometime I will have all the info for pre-order and whether there will be signed copies and when/how and so on, too. More soon!

  12. Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening says:

    I am looking forward to reading the new, revised “Way”. I remember how relieved I felt to find another gardener who found gardening so necessary, in a similar climate, in a rural location, with acreage. I also remember how thrilled I was to discover your website.

    1. margaret says:

      That’s a very nice compliment coming from you, Cathy. Thank you. Hope you are faring OK with the recent madness in weather … a little respite right now but who knows what’s next!?

  13. Pam K says:

    YAY!!! I have “way to garden-ed” for the last 20 years thanks to your books. You are the reason I have so many birds (and fewer pests) flocking to my garden all year round. Thanks so much for sharing and teaching, Margaret.

  14. Sandie Freiman says:

    I have just moved to a lake close to you, and can hardly wait for spring to arrive. I will be learning to garden in a new grow zone, so am excited. Have been looking for your original book in used book stores to go with your other two that sit on my desk. When the weeds get to me, I pick them up, read, and know you feel the same as me.

    1. margaret says:

      Soon we will have the all-new version, Sandie. I can hardly wait for spring, either. I hope you will come visit on Open Days in the garden!

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