As I write this, we’re having one of those deceptively beautiful winter days. The kind where the sky is blue and the sun is shining but the temperature never gets out of the 20s. This comes after a run of days of heavy grey clouds and flat, dull light. This sort of deep winter weather always has me looking towards spring and dreaming again of starting a garden. The only problem? I don’t actually know how to garden. I love looking at inspirational gardens, but I always have felt too overwhelmed to start. Which is why I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of the upcoming book A Woman’s Garden by Tanya Anderson of Lovely Greens.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of this book for free through NetGalley. All opinions are honest and my own. This post also contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of these links I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. See my policies page for more.
A Woman’s Garden is a celebration of home gardening and inspirational gardens in many varied forms. The gardens at the center of each chapter are in a variety of location throughout North American and Europe, representing a nice range of climates. The book covers eight types of gardens across three themes: edible, health and beauty, and home and crafts.
The edible garden section starts out with a look at a basic kitchen garden, the sort with vegetables and fruits. This particular garden is special, however, because of how much it produces on a scant quarter acre of land. I was even more excited about the garden featured in the next chapter, which focuses on edible flowers. The last chapter looks at culinary herbs. The featured gardener, Rekha Mistry, started with a few small pots but has expanded to a plot in a community garden.
The next two chapters looked at how a garden can be used to support health and beauty goals. Skin care was the first chapter the garden featured is that of the author on the Isle of Man. She encourages experimentation with plant materials, especially when making low-risk items like bath bombs. Herbal medicine was next. This chapter strikes a nice balance between encouraging the use of herbs as medicine and acknowledging the need for training and caution. The featured gardener recommends starting out with herbs that are used in both culinary and medicinal ways. For example, growing mint, which is good for treating upset stomach and in food.
Home and crafts is the theme of the final section of the book. There was another chapter on herbs, but this one focused on herbs that were useful for the home. I found it interesting that there are plants like soapwort that can be used as a natural detergent! This was followed by a chapter that really excited me: plant dyes! I do a lot of crafts (crochet, weaving, etc) and experimenting with natural dyes is on my wishlist. The final chapter was about having a “crafty” garden. I was really glad that this chapter was included, because it addressed the fact that gardening can at times be an expensive hobby. Thee problem with inspirational gradens is that they can often feel out of reach. However, the crafty garden was about how being patient and creative could help a gardener to save money and find uses for things that might otherwise end up in a landfill.
Each of these chapters started with an introduction to a specific woman and her garden. Lots of photographs were included, making it a visual beautiful book, as well as an informative one. This had a grounding effect on the book and made the idea of starting a garden seem more attainable. Afterall, this wasn’t just one woman showing off, but a whole community sharing knowledge.
Information on specific plants was also included in each chapter in the form of easy-to-read charts. One thing I noticed was that some plants were recommended for several different types of gardens. Calendula in particular showed up several times, making me seriously consider plant a small container come spring.
This book contains projects for a wide range of skill levels, time commitments, and land availability. If you like me, and it’s the dead of winter, there’s a recipe for Lavender Shortbread that can be made using dried, store bought flowers (Rose Pistachio Shortbread inspired by this recipe can be found here) and a cleaner that uses orange peels and vinegar. When the weather warms up, I might tackle the edible flower planter in chapter 2. If I had land of my own, I would totally be looking into building the herb spiral in the spring.
Overall, I adore this book. It makes gardening feel approachable and fun. The inspirational gardens gave me a lot to think (and daydream!) about. If you’ve been thinking of starting a garden buy can’t seem to move from an amorphous idea of “some plants idk?” to a real plan, this book is a great read. The projects are there to meet you at whatever level you’re at. Since reading it, I have a better idea of where to start on my gardening journey and more than a few ideas of projects to do when this blanket of snow melts in the spring. Honestly, I’m seriously considering buying a paper copy just to have as a reference/coffee table book. If this sounds like something you’ve been craving too, pre-order your copy of A Woman’s Garden at Bookshop.org or wherever you buy books.