How an Idea Became a Book About Gardening and Happiness

I’ve spent the last few years writing a book. In all honesty, this wasn’t something I set out to do. I never wanted to be a published writer, though I do have a degree in Journalism from a fine school, where I imagined I might have a career writing advertising copy. Like many who graduated with me, I ended up working in another field so that I could pay for rent and food. While I’ve certainly used my writing skills along the way, I never worked as a writer or a journalist. As they say, I’ve come full circle.

How did I get to this place? I have a habit of taking a long walk after the holidays have passed to think about what I should be working on during the new year.  On one particular January day, I decided that I should pass along what I had learned about designing commercial and residential garden spaces. At the time, I was working as a freelance seasonal color designer for a number of landscaping companies in Atlanta, having left my full-time job as a designer to move to a small town just outside the city.

I thought about some of the residential customers I’d helped through the years, who were keen to have perennial flower borders, but couldn’t afford the price we charged as a company to design, install, and maintain them. I remember giving a hand-drawn design to one customer in particular, sensing that she could in fact, do it herself, with a labeled drawing that showed her what to put where. I wanted her to have that flower border. I could see that it would make her happy.

Putting together a design for your garden can seem downright mysterious if you don’t understand how to fit all of the pieces together, but it is, quite simply, a long series of questions and answers. It’s not difficult, but it does require a lot of thought, and a bit of creativity.

I wrote this book for anyone living in the South who wants to get into the details of garden design instead of just admiring the beautiful flower photos in a book, or on social media. While my book does contain many beautiful photos, it will show you step-by-step how to make it all come together, something I would have loved to have had in my hands long ago when I was learning to garden.

The book includes ten design templates, which you can adjust to your own garden space, whether large or small. These templates are not line drawings, but small works of art painted by the very talented Emmie Ruth Wise (@emmieruthart). These watercolor illustrations portray how each project might look once planted.

The main idea of the book is that no matter how crazy your life is, you can have one beautiful small space, whether it is a flower bed, a flowering-shrub border, or a container grouping, that makes you smile every time you see it. We have such busy lives, and while the world may tell us that we must have a beautifully green lawn and perfectly clipped shrubs, I don’t care about any of that. I just want to be greeted at my back door by a lush, pink-flowering camellia, blooming with abandon on a rainy fall day. This is what brings me joy, and keeps me going, no matter what else is happening in my life.

If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

For more information on my book, and how to pre-order at a discount, follow this link to the University of North Carolina Press website:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *