Joy of Gardening

Collection Notes

Need a little inspiration? The writers in this collection manage to capture the little moments that embody the joy of gardening.

It’s hard to understate the joy of gardening on a balmy Spring afternoon or when you bite into that sweet, juicy ear of fresh corn. There’s something magical about watching your first tulips of the season burst forth with their bright reds, golds, and oranges. And the memories that come with an heirloom seed passed down through generations can speak to us in a way that few other things can. READ MORE

Bill Dugan


The Stump

I was in my 20s when I bought my first house, a dilapidated Victorian in the little town of Winters, California. I was delighted to get out of my 8 x 21 trailer, even though my new house had knob and tube wiring and didn’t really have a bathroom or foundation.  READ MORE

Lemonade with Nonni

Nonni, my grandmother, would call out to me from her small front porch while she rubbed her flour-laden hands on a big apron. The apron was usually covered with ruffles that disappeared behind her curly white hair.  READ MORE

Ephemeral Spring

A couple of Februarys ago, I had rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder. People told me that hip surgery is the easiest to recover from, knee surgery next easiest, and shoulder surgery the hardest.  READ MORE


I have to confess I like the smell of dirt. As a gardener and especially during the Winter months, I find myself longing not so much for the calming scent of lavender or a heavenly sniff of my English roses, but more for the earthy smell of dirt warmed by the Spring sun.  READ MORE

Dad and the Fantasticks

My father’s favorite musical was “The Fantasticks.“ He loved to sing. Dad was also a gardener, an avid gardener. I’m not sure I tasted a grocery store tomato before my teens. As a child, I had no patience for gardening.  READ MORE

Let Us Grow Lettuce

A quarter of a century ago, a wise-looking, older fellow leaned over my back fence as I considered what to plant in my newly made raised beds. Without introducing himself, he said, “Don’t bother planting lettuce.  READ MORE

A Growing Gardener

It was my intention to take the bottles to the redemption center, meet my friends Laura and Lauren for lunch, and then come home. It took me ten hours. You see, my friends are gardeners—good ones—paid to be ones, actually.  READ MORE

Zephy, Creeferter, and Me

I once lived in an iris-blue Queen Anne house that was bordered with 20 pink, yellow, and white roses, but that was another lifetime. When my husband died, I took a teaching job in another county, farther west, one that provided teacher housing.  READ MORE

Waiting for Zinnias

It’s early October and my zinnias are ugly. Their stems have grown brown and brittle. Their curled-up leaves are mottled and mildewed. But I can’t say good-bye to the zinnias just yet.   READ MORE

Brick by Brick

When this stay-at-home order started, I thought it might be fun to rebrick one of our garden retaining walls. Yes, I know. I am curious about my sanity, too.  READ MORE


In progress for 20 years, my garden is a place I never tire of. Knowing that it stays on course growing steadily, regardless of life‘s events, supplies me with a sense of composure. When I concentrate my attention on the garden, I’m granted the parallel reward of ignoring everything else.  READ MORE

Buried by Cucumbers

Almost 40 years ago, I went to school for horticulture, a two-year, hands-on program at the University of New Hampshire. During the Summer between those two years, we had to get a job in our chosen specialty.  READ MORE

My Yard

I was 30 years old when my father retired. Since he was a pastor, we had never really had a home: our family just resided in the church manses where we lived. On retirement, my father bought some land out in the country…  READ MORE

An Unexpected Bonus

I tend to buy my organic fruit and vegetables from Whole Foods, and a couple of years ago I bought some beautiful organic grapefruit there. A few days later, I cut one of them in half, looking forward to a delicious breakfast of pink grapefruit, whole wheat toast, and a cup of Earl Grey tea.  READ MORE

The Dead Rack

Every Spring, I scout deals at my local garden center. I mostly ooh and aah at the beautiful plants I can’t afford, but one day, I noticed a rolling shelf rack shoved in the corner.  READ MORE
Woman Eating Tomatoe


A hot, wet Spring yielded small, intensely sweet strawberries. We ate gallons of them—in homemade ice cream or over fresh warm shortcake, sure, but mostly right out of the bowl, each glowing berry raised by its stem and devoured—every day in May we could get them.  READ MORE

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