I have always believed that my garden was a metaphor for my life. That we were completely intertwined and growing together. So I embarked on writing my blog to set to word the lessons I was learning from my garden. Once in the blogging world, I became acquainted with that community of garden bloggers, many who had more experience than me, and who were willing to lend a hand to a novice.
I was familiar with Grace Peterson’s blog through the garden blogging community of Blotanical. And when we both had our first work published in the same book, The Moment I Knew, on the same subject (grief) next to each other, a friendship grew. Although we have never met in person, I have learned so much from Grace as she has continued with her writing and getting her works published. Grace published her wonderful memoir, Reaching, to much acclaim last year. And when she wrote she was publishing a garden memoir of lessons learned through gardening, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
I am very excited to review Grace’s latest book. And Grace has graciously agreed to give away a copy of her book. Details about the giveaway can be found at the end of the post.
Author: Grace Peterson
Paperback: 130 pages
Publisher: All Things That Matter Press (April 9, 2014)
Amazon Price: $14.34 (Paperback)
In A Few Words
Grace opens up her garden memoir (that’s how I think of this book) with an introduction to her life and gardening. She weaves the slender stalks of these two together throughout the book, but the introduction lays the foundation, the soil, that nourishes the rest of her prose.
Grace takes us from her early years with gardens, family and nature to her early married years when she started gardening in earnest with her young family. She started with vegetables, one of the most difficult types of gardening when one has little experience or information. I give her lots of credit especially as failure is rampant with veg gardening. But as Grace says:
“Successful gardening…requires attributes such as patience and keen observation, persistence and even faith. Sometimes it feels like a lesson in futility….But once we come to our senses and realize that the challenges are not insurmountable, we forge a plan and get right back out there and dig in.”
This one quote gives you great insight into who Grace is and what drives her, and it speaks loudly to me as I concur with her wholeheartedly. It is a mantra all gardeners can relate to, and sets the stage for the rest of the book’s 29 chapters which really are wonderful lessons from Grace’s garden.
What I Liked
To give a you a good idea of the types of topics that Grace covers, I chose 3 chapters totally at random to review.
Chapter 1 is called, Discoveries. Grace talks about the house she and her family moved to when she was expecting their second child; the yellow house. Here she built square flower and veggie beds from recycled fencing that had blown down. It was in her yard, under the huge tree, that Grace spied a unique plant. She decided not to pull the plant and throw it away as a weed. Instead she nurtured it, picked the flowers and let it seed and regrow. She discovered the plant was a double flower form of feverfew, a wonderful herb. She has kept these cute button daisy-like flowers in all her gardens and still has the offspring of this wonderful first plant in her current garden.
Grace’s lesson here is that many little discoveries start out as nothing more than an inkling. And if nurtured, will help us find something interesting and significant in our lives.
Chapter 10 is called, Timing. This story tells of the time that Grace bartered piano lessons for her daughter in exchange for her redoing the piano teacher’s garden bed. The teacher did not want the plants that were in the bed and Grace could take whatever she wanted. She adored the cyclamen and took every one she could lovingly plant in her garden. But the real lesson here is the, “upside-down timing of their blooming.” “In the plant world timing is everything,” Grace says. Each plant is programmed to know when to wake up and bloom. And like plants we too are programmed to live and die.
Grace’s lesson is that like the cyclamen she is blooming now in the fall. Cyclamen gives us hope that we are not late-bloomers. Instead we are right on time.
Chapter 21 is called, The Human Club. Here Grace talks about her love of working in the garden by herself, but how her taking the Master Gardening course got her involved with other gardeners. This led to her getting to know people, who knew people who then offered her a job writing a garden column. And then she goes on to tell us about her getting to know her neighbor which led to a wonderful friendship that opened up even more friendships in blogging and on and on.
Grace’s lesson is that we are social animals, and that gardening has offered her opportunities to share common interests with others. And of course the more time we share these interests with others, the more we realize how much alike we are all together in this club called being human.
These are such special lessons that I think anyone, gardener or not, can relate to them intimately.
Not So Much
Some people may not like a garden book without glossy colorful garden pictures, but this is not a book about Grace’s garden or how to garden. It is a collection of wonderful stories from her 30+ years as a gardener.
And you can get lots of wonderful pictures of her garden on her blog. I have included only pink flowers in this post as Grace adores pink flowers as you will see when you visit her blog, Gardening With Grace.
Grace also blogs at Subplots By Grace, where she writes about life, books, authors and other topics that interest her.
I love Grace’s writing and especially her garden memoir. To say Grace’s writing has a way of reaching down deep into your soul and wrenching up emotions, is putting it mildly. I usually become mesmerized as she spins her story, and just when I think I know where it will go, she takes me down a path I never expected.
This is the type of book to languish over much like walking in Grace’s garden. You can pick up this book and randomly turn to any chapter, read it and feel more the better for having done so. I know I will be doing this over and over again just to get a sprinkling of Grace’s nurturing words:
“I think one of the perks of gardening is what we learn about ourselves in the process. We learn what our strengths and weaknesses are. We learn what makes us break out into a “happy dance” and what makes us clench our fists and cringe.”
Gardens don’t have endings like novels. And as gardeners, we don’t want them to be finished. ~Sydney Eddison
To win a copy of Grace’s book simply leave a comment telling me :
- what you love about gardening
- or what is your favorite lesson you have learned from your garden or nature.
- or simply just say hello.
A name will be drawn at random. I will close the giveaway on Saturday, July 5th at 4pm. The winner will be contacted by email and announced in my post on Monday, July 7th.
Next up on the blog: Thursday, July 3rd, I will have an in depth Tree Following post. And Monday brings another Garden Journal as I review June in the garden. I will profile all the blooms in the garden for GBBD after that. Hoping to see more finally blooming if I can hack through all the weeds.
I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday.
I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden.
I can also be found blogging once a month at Vision and Verb. My latest post will be up on July 7th.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2014. Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.