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  • Jennifer Jewell


A WAY TO GARDEN (2019, Timber Press) CELEBRATING 21 YEARS, Photo Courtesy of Margaret Roach. All rights reserved.


For many plant and garden lovers, Margaret Roach will need no introduction, but for those who might be meeting her for the first time - this is your lucky garden-listening day. The longtime Garden Editor of Martha Stewart Living and then Editorial Director of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Margaret Roach is a gardener, and a well-known garden communicator. For more than 30 years she has shared her vision for what it is and what it means to be a gardener through writing, imagery, lectures, and radio podcasts. Since 2008 she has primarily shared her gardening life under the name: A Way to Garden – the name of her garden website, her pioneering public-radio-based podcast, and her first book, which is celebrating its 21st birthday this year. An extensively revised and updated anniversary edition of the book is now available from Timber Press.

Margaret is known for always saying no to chemicals and yes to great plants - for helping all of us enjoy the heights and depths of both horticultural how-to and it’s heartfelt woo-woo. She writes: “by becoming a gardener, I accidentally—blessedly—landed myself in a fusion of science lab and Buddhist retreat, a place of nonstop learning and of contemplation, where there is life buzzing to the maximum and also the deepest stillness. It is from this combined chemistry that my horticultural "how-to and woo-woo” motto derives.”

Since she first began gardening as a way to occupy her time and find solace while caring for her ailing mother, Margaret Roach has engaged with her gardening on at least two levels, the horticultural how to and the very heartfelt Woo- Woo referenced above. She annual marks and celebrates 6 seasons in the garden and these she correlates with the seasons of our own lives - from conception and germination to senescence and re-generation.

Margaret’s other books include And I Shall Have Some Peace There, and The Backyard Parables. Margaret joins us today via Skype from her beloved home and garden in upstate New York.

“May we all keep handing down pieces of wisdom (and plants) to one another over

many more growing seasons to come...and, be thoughtful, keep weeding.”

Margaret Roach, A Way To Garden

Follow along with Margaret's writing, broadcasts, and garden life work online at and on Instagram:



Thinking out loud this week for me is taken up with the ghosts of gardens and gardeners past – not of other gardeners or gardens, but all the other gardeners I have been through my life thus far and all the places even this one garden I live in and with right now has been in just these past four years –

Listening to Margaret’s apt correlation between seasons or phases of our own lives and the annual cycle of our gardens is a clear reminder that nothing lasts – not plants, and not who you are or where you are. This is an evergreen offering to us from our gardens - a place is not a static inanimate object – it's a living breathing dynamic concept, just as we are not static beings, we are many stories within stories, many gardeners within many gardens.

In the section of the book on the season of Senescence – the months of September and October in Margaret’s New York garden she writes:

“Nothing lasts. Need I say more to a bunch of gardeners? Not winter, nor spring; not the flower nor its pollinators. Not us.

However tight we hold, we cannot stop the petals from shattering.

I repeat: Nothing lasts. All these years of growing things has instilled a reverence for the winding-down side, and so my own derivative tradition is to mark each major passing in the garden, each fallen hero, and not just each arriving bloom.”

And maybe each gardener we have ever been and all that they have learned and experienced, grown and composted along this way to garden?

In the seasonal unfolding in our lives and in Margaret’s A Way To Garden world view, May and June are considered youth – it is sowing and beginning to reap, it is babies fledging and editing the most overly vigorous to size.

In the world of gardens and radio, it’s always the season of producing – which is why we get up in the morning and out to the garden – it gives us hope and life and purpose. We have a lot of ideas growing here at Cultivating Place, and we need your support to help us out. If you want to be part of the community garden, you can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the link at the top right hand corner of any page at our website,, and donating there. You support North State Public Radio, you support Cultivating Place, you support the belief that these conversations on the theories and realities of quantum gardening make a difference for the better in our world. To all of you who support us with one times gifts, or monthly recurring donations of $10, $20, $100 – thank you! And for those of you waiting to join in this garden cultivation – thank you in advance!




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