Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older

Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older

by Sydney Eddison
     
 

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From the winner of the National Garden Club's Award of Excellence
Although the garden may beckon as strongly as ever, the tasks involved—pulling weeds, pushing wheelbarrows, digging holes, moving heavy pots—become increasingly difficult, or even impossible, with advancing age. But the idea of giving it up is unthinkable for most

Overview


From the winner of the National Garden Club's Award of Excellence
Although the garden may beckon as strongly as ever, the tasks involved—pulling weeds, pushing wheelbarrows, digging holes, moving heavy pots—become increasingly difficult, or even impossible, with advancing age. But the idea of giving it up is unthinkable for most gardeners. So what’s the alternative?

In Gardening for a Lifetime, Sydney Eddison draws on her own forty years of gardening to provide a practical and encouraging roadmap for scaling back while keeping up with the gardening activities that each gardener loves most. Like replacing demanding plants like delphiniums with sturdy, relatively carefree perennials like sedums, rudbeckias, and daylilies. Or taking the leap and hiring help—another pair of hands, even for a few hours a week, goes a long way toward getting a big job done.

This new edition features an additional chapter describing how Sydney’s struggles with hip and back problems forced her to walk the walk. As a friend of hers says, “Last summer you wrote the book. Now, I’m happy to see that you’ve read it.” Gentle, personable, and practical, Gardening for a Lifetime will be welcomed by all gardeners looking to transform gardening from a list of daunting chores into the gratifying, joyful activity it was meant to be.

Editorial Reviews

Akron Beacon Journal

Sydney Eddison is my kind of garden writer, now passing along wisdom acquired from 50 years. No BS, no rhetoric. Trust this writer; she knows what she’s talking about.
Booklist

An excellent and thoughtful new book...a must read both for now (after all, who doesn’t want to garden smarter?) and for your future gardening self. She is practical, humorous and clear-sighted.
Garden Rant

Eddison’s thoughtful reflections are timely for countless gardeners who are approaching the time in their lives when a garden sanctuary can feel like a burden.
Connecticut Gardener

“While this book is meant for gardeners who are getting older, it’s relevant reading for anyone who may not have endless supplies of time, energy and money to devote to their garden.”
Philadelphia Inquirer

[Eddison] writes with wisdom and experience. Are you looking for anything more?
New York Times Book Review

"I found it liberating to be given an excuse to ditch some of my backbreaking chores. Who’s waiting to grow old? I’m preparing for the future right now. You can tuck this perfect gift into your basket."

KCGardener.com
All of us need to begin addressing these issues, and this [book] is a gentle way to get started.
MuckAbout.com

All of us need to begin addressing these issues, and this [book] is a gentle way to get started.
The Providence Journal

A delightful read with many helpful hints about simplifying garden maintenance.
All The Dirt On Gardening.com

A very personal book with many nuggets of information.
California Country Magazine

A lovely read for those of us who can no longer put 16 hours a day into the garden.
NY Times Book Review

While many of the practices included in the book speak to the older gardener, those with mobility issues, no matter their age, will find Eddison’s ideas both gentle and practical.
TheDailyBasics.com

I found it liberating to be given an excuse to ditch some of my backbreaking chores. Who’s waiting to grow old? I’m preparing for the future right now. You can tuck this perfect gift into your basket...
Hartford Courant

Practical, imaginative and delightful...
NotesFromASmallGarden.com

Gardens change, and so do we—our time, our needs, our energy. Sydney tells us how to roll with the changes…how to garden for life without getting lost in the weeds.
Connecticut Gardener Magazine

Sydney Eddison has long shared with readers…her experiences maintaining her garden in Connecticut. Now she’s using those experiences to help older gardeners like herself continue to pursue their passion as they age.
LandscapeDesignWeb.com

While this book is meant for gardeners who are getting older, it’s relevant reading for anyone who may not have endless supplies of time, energy and money to devote to their garden.
Winston-Salem Journal

“Her advice is both practical and creative.”
DesignNJ

Anyone who's gardened for a long time will want to read Sydney Eddison's new book.
NPR On Point

Her book is packed with insights that readers will find helpful, whether they're nearing a certain age or simply trying to plan their gardens well.
From the Publisher

“Practical advice and heartfelt anecdotes on how to transform gardening into a labor of love.”
Dominique Browning
[Eddison's] a perfectionist, and her book is really about learning to let go, to find satisfaction in simplicity…I half-dreaded reading this book, expecting it to depress me, but it's full of cheer.
—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781604692662
Publisher:
Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
04/13/2011
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
333,123
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt


Preface
Gardens and gardeners age and change. Why wouldn’t they? The passage of time brings about changes in all living things, yet old age always takes us by surprise. I’m stunned by it. In the sliding glass doors to the kitchen, I catch glimpses of an old woman hobbling around my garden, and I realize in amazement that it’s me. When I began writing this book, I wasn’t hobbling. That has happened during the last few months.
           
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new, / And God fulfils himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world.” When I was young and read Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, I rebelled against the idea that any good thing could possibly corrupt the world. How could it? And how could Arthur, that model of goodness, corrupt anything? But in a garden, it becomes quite clear. Change is nature’s way of managing it all—animal, vegetable, and even mineral. The sands of the desert shift and mountains erode. Everything changes, and somehow or other it all works.
           
It’s hard to say whether a garden is a metaphor for life or the other way around. Certainly, each phase of my life has been clearly reflected not only in the glass doors but also through them. The view today is very different from the same view in 1961. At that time, the kitchen was just a covered porch surrounded by long grass and brush. The glass doors were not put in until 1980, when there was finally something to see.
           
The garden emerged by fits and starts over a period of many years. But it doesn’t seem so long ago that it was in its infancy and I was young. Now we are both old. The first rhododendrons I planted have trunks like trees, and a Chinese chestnut given to me as a sprout in a four-inch pot has reached a height of thirty-five feet.
           
Evidence of change is everywhere, in both garden and gardener. We’ve been through a lot together: the year the trees were defoliated by inch worms that hung in masses from their bare branches; drought years, when my husband and I pumped gray water from the bathtub to revive the wilting shrubs; a three-year plague of voles that decimated the shade plantings.
           
To balance these relatively minor setbacks, there have been so many moments of heart-stopping wonder and delight, such as the triumph of a yellow lady’s slipper’s first bloom. I now have a whole clump, and they remind me of my youth and the farmer who taught me about wildflowers. He used to send away for plants and seed and managed to establish a small colony of yellow lady’s slippers in the woods behind his farm.
           
My garden is full of wonderful memories. In April, I look forward every year to the poignant beauty of primroses planted in memory of my English mother. And in the summer, I think of Helen and Johnny Gill, my gardening mentors, who are responsible for the river of lamb’s ears in front of the long perennial border.
           
For forty-eight years, the garden has been part of my life every day, in every season and in all weathers. It has witnessed my greatest joys and absorbed my deepest sorrows. It is a place of safety and comfort, an old forgiving friend who is always there for me, who protects and embraces me.
           
I cannot leave this place. It is where my husband and I spent a lifetime together and where I want to stay. The determination to remain here fueled my desire to find a simpler way to garden and to write about it. In addition, there were the letters I received after an article for Fine Gardening on reducing maintenance in the garden came out. Those letters have kept me in front of the computer.
           
This is my story and it is for my husband, but it is also for the kind people who wrote those letters. They told me a little bit about their stories, and as it turns out, we are all doing exactly the same thing—trying to hang on to something we love. And sometimes we feel that we are winning. Already, some of the strategies I’ve tried are working, and caring for the garden has become easier. So many gardeners will eventually find themselves in the same boat that I think our experiences worth sharing.
           
But first, a backward glance at the way the garden used to be. Because unless you know something of its history, you will not understand the significance of all the changes, voluntary and involuntary, that have taken place in recent years.

Meet the Author


Sydney Eddison has written six other books on gardening. She has been honored by National Garden Clubs Inc. with their Award of Excellence for 2010. For her work as a writer, gardener, and lecturer, she has also received the Connecticut Horticultural Society’s Gustav A. L. Melquist Award in 2002; the New England Wild Flower Society’s Kathryn S. Taylor Award in 2005; and in 2006, The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut’s Bronze Medal. Her garden has been featured in magazines and on television. A former scene designer and drama teacher, Eddison lectures widely and is a frequent contributor to Fine Gardening magazine and other publications.

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