Can a plant be thanked? : A Book Review

Posted by on Nov 22, 2013 in My Blog | Leave a comment

Can a plant be thanked?  With this question, Merilyn Simonds distills her book, A New Leaf, down to its essence – a gardener’s love for her garden, which shines through in every page of this book.

A New Leaf is a collection of essays from Merilyn Simonds‘s blog the Frugalista Gardener.   The book chronicles a year in her garden, starting with her Spring-time impatience to begin another year of planting and ending with winter dreams and plans for next year’s garden.




The bounty and the disappointments.

Life at The Leaf, the 200-year-old stone house near Kingston, Ontario revolves around the ever-evolving garden.  There are the advisors: the Rosarian, the Humanist, the Frisian and the Garden Guru.  There are the visitors: The Grand Girls, the Elder and Younger sons, the Poet, the Carpenter.  But in the end, there is just Merilyn and her husband who she lovingly, and sometimes ironically, calls My Beloved.  Together, they tell the story of their home through the plants and flowers that they plant, care for, and harvest.  Merilyn translates it all into her own lyrical and insightful essays in A New Leaf.

Not only do we enjoy seeing gardening through new eyes, but reading the book enriches both our souls and our minds as we grow to understand not just the how’s of the garden, but the why’s and the why not’s.  We share in the both the bounty and in the profound disappointments.

Pleasure is the only rule.

If you’re only going to have one rule, Merilyn nailed it.

“Pleasure is the only rule.  The exhuberant sweep of colour, the sweet scents and sharp tastes, the upthrust trailing shapes, the accidental pairings that make me laugh or weep with their unlikely beauty – we’re bound together, my garden and me, in an ecstacy of growth.”

Hers is no ordinary garden and she is no ordinary gardener.  While she says she’s not a serious gardener, she only means that she doesn’t follow all the rules and that “no bus tour will ever traipse across my white-clover lawn”.  Perhaps not, but she has certainly piqued my curiousity for what feels like a few acres of paradise.


“Can a plant be thanked?  What’s the point, you might say, but even so, it is the plants I want to acknowledge, for their endless inspiration, the joy they bring and the frustrations that make me question why I do what I do.”



The Paradise Project.

book-cover-and-insideThe Paradise Project is a limited-edition flash-fiction book by Merilyn Simonds that was designed, typeset and letterpress printed by book artist, Hugh Barclay at Thee Hellbox Press.  It includes art images from Merilyn’s son, Erik Mohr, and handmade paper by Emily Cook.

So, so beautiful.



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