Welcome to A New Leaf, a gardening book grounded in a year of growing seasons at The Leaf, our two–hundred–year–old acreage in eastern Ontario.
At the turn of the millennium, my Beloved and I bought an old stone house situated in what was left of a sprawling apple orchard. We opened the soil for vegetable beds, fruit beds, perennial beds, a woodland garden, a garden of ephemerals, and a Hortus familia where I grow species that remind me of our mothers and fathers and where we bury our pets. In all, twenty–six beds. An alphabet of plants.
I’ve been gardening all my life, since my grandmother put a watering can in my hand when I was three. In the tradition of writer–gardeners such as Colette, Vita Sackville–West, Elizabeth Smart, and Jamaica Kincaid, my gardens have crept into my work, especially into my novel The Holding, which tells the story of two gardeners working the same soil a century apart.
In 2009, I began to write directly about the seduction of soil, posting a weekly essay on my website, Frugalista Gardener. This book took root there and evolves through the course of a gardening year, moving from the making of these gardens to every garden I’ve ever worked and to the people who have bent with me to the plants and shared the pleasures and frustrations that lead every gardener, in the end, to take stock not only of their gardens, but of themselves.
Click on the titles of the essays to read short excerpts and see pictures of The Leaf, gardens that may not win prizes at the fair, but they are special to me. Come meet my Beloved, who tills by my side; the Rosarian, who tends to bud and thorn in roses and life; the Garden Guru, who guides me with a wry eye; and the Grand Girls who keep me close to the earth.
Thank you for walking my garden paths with me. Click on the gallery of photos above or on the titles of the essays to read short excerpts.