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The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening, and Life

“The Backyard Parables: Lesson on Gardening, and Life,” is a gardening memoir of sorts writing by Margaret Roach. Roach, a former editor-in-chief of the ‘Martha Stewart Living’ magazine, quit her job to tend to her gardens full-time. In this delightful book, Roach dispenses both gardening and life lessons. Read this book review to learn more.

Reviewed by Linda Holt, Master Gardener

The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening, and Life

“The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening, and Life is a gardening memoir. You may recognize the author, Margaret Roach, as the former editor-in-chief of the ‘Martha Stewart Living’ magazine.  Her up-state New York garden has been featured several times in that magazine. She left this high-powered position to work fulltime on her gardens. Within this book she shares her journey in that effort including her gardening wins and losses - made humble by mother nature and various animals, including woodchucks and deer to name a few.  Her garden story is told both from a practical and spiritual perspective, therefore the use of the word ‘parable’ meaning: “a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson”.  

Roach’s memoir is broken into 4 parts or chapters, as she describes the ‘life’ of her garden.  She begins with ‘Water (Winter), the crucial time period that the important work of planning the garden and purchasing the seeds begins. Within each chapter she includes sidebars where she shares her wisdom regarding the lessons she has learned over her 25 years as a gardener. Within this chapter is an amusing tale where she attempts to rescue frogs located within her garden ponds.  The device meant to keep the occupants of the pond alive during the long, cold winter failed to work.  So, she trudged out in the ice-cold darkness of her thigh high snow filled yard to be a savior to her beloved frogs. Quite an entertaining story follows.

The next section is ‘Earth (spring)’, the third section is entitled ‘Fire (summer) and the fourth is ‘Wind (Autumn)’.  Within each section she shares gardening lessons learned along the way that correspond to the evolution of the garden and how that relates to our changing selves.  It is a truly delightful book and best experienced by reading slowly and thoughtfully.  Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Margaret Roach (1)

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