The Garden in Every Sense and Season

The Garden in Every Sense and Season


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“Reminds us that the best way to get to know a garden is through our senses.” —Gardenista

So much of gardening is focused on the long list of chores—the weeding, planting, and pruning. But what about the joy a garden can provide? In The Garden in Every Sense and Season, Tovah Martin explores the sensory delights in her own garden in 100 evocative essays. Martin shares sage garden advice, offers intimate reflections on her own garden, and urges us to inhale, savor, and become more attuned to our gardens. Packed with lush color photographs, The Garden in Every Sense and Season will help you grow a bounty of gratitude in your own home garden.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604697452
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/03/2018
Pages: 292
Sales rank: 622,310
Product dimensions: 6.70(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Tovah Martin is a fanatical and passionate organic gardener and the author of The Indestructible Houseplant, The Unexpected Houseplant, The New Terrarium, and Tasha Tudor’s Garden, as well as many other gardening books. Visit her at

Kindra Clineff specializes in location photography and regularly produces feature assignments for national magazines; her images have appeared in numerous books, including several with Tovah Martin. She lives in Essex County, Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction: Coming to My Senses
This is the story of a nose and how I followed it through the year. This is the saga of a garden and how it spoke to me. In these pages I chronicle a pair of hands as they grope their way through the weeding, hoeing, and digging without too much pain. And this is the tale of someone who has looked at her garden for years, but only now saw it fully for the first time. I have learned that unless you consciously experience your garden, you might be blind to its beauty. And if you don’t listen, it will remain mute. This is the journal of an awakening told throughout the course of a year. But it is not my individual story—it is everyone’s.

What is it about gardening? So often, it’s like a tsunami, and we are caught up in its rush until we drown. Not only do we go under, but we are submerged without any of the deep-rooted memories that made martyrdom worth the sacrifice. We tend to forget that the garden is a very close, personal relationship, and we don’t stroke it enough.

I was that person. I was the weed warrior with the gimlet eye focused solely on stray chickweed and opportunistic witch grass. I was blind and I was deaf. I felt the sting of the rose—which I cluelessly placed by the front door—tearing my flesh while I juggled the flat of plants, the keys, and my knapsack. I grew the paperwhites in winter, which offended my nostrils in close quarters after dark. I experienced a few spare moments of awakening, but I also made senseless mistakes because of numbness. This is the frantic response of the frenetic gardener.

I call my seven acres Furthermore because I’m continually overextending. My mind races ahead of physical reality and, before I know it, another project is in the works and I’m galloping to make it happen. When I came to this land in northwestern Connecticut, nothing botanical was in residence save a few struggling irises around the foundation. I asked 95-year-old Mabel Smith whether a garden ever resided here when the land was still part of her family farm. She pointed to the front yard with her shaky cane and responded, “A garden? Of course there was a garden! A potato patch was planted right here.” So there you have it. I am returning this property to its glorious roots.

I came in 1996, and over the years I have inserted a garden to spread in front of the 1790 cottage (converted into living space from a former cobbler’s shop), put in an herb-vegetable garden behind the house, installed a berry garden and a massive vegetable garden, and upcycled what was left of the front lawn into a lawn-alternative garden. I’ve planted dozens and dozens of trees. I steward an acre of New England meadow, diversifying it slightly from the original mono-goldenrod inventory to include other natives such as Joe Pye weed, pycnanthemum, and numerous asters. I built a barn for my two Saanen goats, and they graze placidly (sometimes) in their paddock—all the while keeping an eye peeled for devilry to wreak if I leave a gate unguarded for half a second. Inside the house and its attached converted barn, Einstein (a shelter kitten whose lineage includes mischievous Maine Coon) watches from various windows. More than 200 plants reside in the house in the colder months, to be liberated outdoors to various porches and patios when weather permits. Furthermore is the stage where my ultimate revelation took place. It provides ample fodder for feeling—if only I was wired that way. This is my journey of sensory illumination.

The idea for this book came from you. During lectures, I often begin by asking my audience to close their eyes and pull up a sensation. And you wouldn’t believe where we go from that simple prompting. We return to childhood. We talk about jasmines floating into windows and the seductive aroma of freshly mown grass. Afterward, we know each other a little better. And we see opportunities that we were blind to while careening around. Gardeners are kin—fellow diggers in the dirt—and we are kindled. As a result of my sensory awakening, I love Furthermore even more today. I’m hoping to ignite that sort of deeper relationship in you.

Through my lectures I have learned that our perceptions are universally shared. We like similar sensations. Lots of us have color preferences. And we have other commonalities—for example, who doesn’t want to avoid injuries? But do you analyze tools before purchasing them, or just go for the handsomest presentation? We tend toward tunnel vision. We sometimes forget to plug in all our senses, and the garden is diluted as a result. We rush out with our tool trug in hand and get down to business. We rip and tear with all our might to create the sensational garden of our dreams, and then we forget to experience those sensations. We don’t plug in.

This adventure could be so multilayered. The garden has so much potential. If only we would take time to do the 360-degree turn and gather all the stimuli, just think how much more fruitful our garden might become. We have a uniquely privileged viewpoint. The glistening hues of tree peony flowers, the shine of light as it illuminates leaves, the velvety touch of lamb’s ears, the buzz of pollinators as they go about their duties, the flit of birds as they make use of what we have offered to further the survival of their species—they are all part of the privilege. Tasting the salty sweat, listening to the chink of the hoe as it dispatches the weeds, touching our hands to the Braille of statuary or just wrapping our fingers around a clot of our own homegrown soil—it’s all ours to savor. We are cheating ourselves if we don’t perk up.

So it’s time. Now is the right moment to build on the cues that have accumulated over the years and listen up, look over, inhale, savor, and reach out. Come and join me. Explore your garden through the seasons for all it’s worth. Become attuned.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Coming to My Senses 7



Spring Green 16

Not-So-Mellow Yellows 19

Spireas: Great Balls of Fire 21

True Blue 23


Earth 28

Bury Your Nose 30

Daffodils 34

Tarts of Spring 36

Lilacs 40


Jeepers Peepers 44

Such a Tweet 46

The Rhythm Section 49


Hands Down 53

Hand Sown 55

Love Hurts 58

Support Tactics 60

Entry-Level Maneuvers 63

The Untouchables 65


Asparagus 70

Lettuce Lust 72

Pecking Order 75



Social Butterflies 83

Hot Colors 86

Accidents on Purpose 89

The Sky Is the Limit 91

The Whites of Their Eyes 94

Beyond Scarborough Fair 97


A Rosy Future 101

Rue the Day 104

Sweet Peas 107

Night Moves 110

Submersion 113


The Daily Buzz 118

Tweets 122

Stormy Weather 126

A Little Night Music 128


Tug of War 133

Love Shouldn't Hurt 135

Pace Yourself 138

Sinking In 140


You Say Tomato 145

Berry Tantalizing 148

Lettuce Stand-Ins 150

Magic Beans 153



Blades of Grass 160

Taking Leave of Your Senses 163

The Blues 166

Gone to Seed 169

Brown Is Beautiful 172


Grape Nuts 177

Blowing in the Wind 179

Deerly Departed 182


Not Counting Crows 186

Keeping the Garden Humming 190

Crunch Time 193


Get a Grip 199

Underground Assets 201

Thorny Subjects 205


Just Peachy 210

Carrot Gold 212

Cabbages and Kings 215

The Late Show 219



Sparkle 226

Telltale Signs 228

The Shape of Things 230

Windowsill Dressing 232


Cold Hard Facts 236

Breathing In 239

Freesias 242

Hyacinths 244


The Sound of Silence 249

Things That Go Boom in the Night 252

Drip 254


Bogarting Sunbeams 259

Reach Out and Touch a Leaf 261


Citrus 265

All That Glitters 268

Dining on the Fly 270

Finale: Forcing the Issue 273

Acknowledgments 278

Index 279

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