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Updated on the 1st and 15th of
with gardener and author, Tovah Martin
In A Time to Blossom: Mothers, Daughters, and Flowers, Tovah Martin again teams up with photographer Richard W. Brown for a celebration of the relationship between mothers and daughters. Tovah Martin is an energetic garden lecturer and writer and has been an avid gardener since she was a child.
She is garden editor for Victoria magazine and a regular contributor to Horticulture magazine. She has written many garden books, including Tasha Tudor's Garden, and Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts, Garden Whimsy, (all with photographer Richard W. Brown), Heirloom Flowers, and Victoria Moments in the Garden.
When she is not lecturing, she can be heard on National Public Radio and at appearances on many television shows. She has appeared on At Home, HGTV's Way to Grow Show, The Indoor Gardener, and The Victory Garden.
I am honored to present this interview which was conducted by e-mail amid Ms Martin's very busy schedule.
As a known horticulture and garden writer, what has been your labor of love to date?
That's a tough one. When I'm weeding, it's a labor of love, when I'm working on a book, I'm totally embraced by that project, ditto for every article that I write. If the subject is powdery mildew, I'm into it - that's the way I am.
That said, working with Tasha Tudor changed my life - she's an
inspiration, a mentor, a visionary and one of the best gardeners I've ever
met all wrapped up into one diminutive frame. She taught me about cottage
gardening and heightened my admiration for heirlooms. She's an incredible
character, and I'm very fortunate to have worked with her.
The beauty of gardening is that there are always so many vistas. A
journey lies around every corner. I feel as though American gardening will
gradually come into its own in the future. We'll pull knowledge and gain
inspiration from the garden styles of other countries, but we'll develop
our own signature look that speaks of our heritage as pioneers and
Interesting that you should ask. Recently, I've gained much more
respect for the elements of design. I've come to realize that strong
design is crucial - just as design is critical in a flower arrangement.
But I believe in stretching the rules and, more importantly, personalizing
design to fit your persona and needs. When working with the natural look,
design is essential. Without design, you have chaos. So, I guess that I'm
saying that design is necessary, but it need not be traditional.
I'm not a "newest" and "latest" type of person. But that said, I've been adding the new kalmia hybrids to my property to jazz up a shady, dry area and I'm totally entranced by some of the new hybrids that Terra Nova Nurseries is introducing - especially their new heucherellas (I love 'Dayglow Pink').
And I'm truly fond of the new agastaches that are appearing on the market - they're great for expanding the growing season. As far as all time favorites, I've always been fond of nepetas and try out all that I can snag. And I'm also fond of eryngiums, for their bizarre flowers. But I could go on and on. I love dahlias, they make my soul sing.
Indoors, my heart will always belong to begonias. But, then again, I'm
crazy about succulents as well. And I can't get enough bougainvilleas.
Many people imagine that I spend my whole day in the garden. But I find
that early morning is when my thoughts flow most fluently for writing. So,
on any given day, I write in the morning. And, when I've exhausted all my
creative energy, I catch up on phone calls, research, etc. On weekdays, I
try to slip away from my desk promptly at 5:00 PM and work in the garden
until dark (or slightly beyond). On weekends, I spend most of my days in
the garden. I do the physical work after 5:00 PM but, in a way, I'm always
in the garden. Research is part of gardening.
Since I was a child really. Gardening is a thread that has woven
through my life - ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a
gardener. For a while, I thought that I wanted to be a farmer, but
ornamental horticulture was just too alluring.
Besides Tasha Tudor, my strongest mentor was my mother-in-law, Joy Logee Martin. Her love of indoor gardening was contagious, and her devotion to horticulture was an inspiration. Joy continues to amaze me.
Although my mother isn't a master gardener by any means, she planted
the seeds by encouraging me to explore my dreams. My mother gave me a
sense of freedom, and she showed me that there's poetry in everything.
Every day is a challenge, every day I learn. And many days I wonder if
I am equal to the challenges of gardening. That's the beauty of it.
That would definitely be the moment when I stepped through the door to
apply for a job at Logee's
Greenhouses, a family owned indoor plant
greenhouse in Danielson, CT. Not only did Logee's introduce me to the
world and wonders of horticulture, but I met people who are truly devoted
to the field. That moment opened many, many doors.
I love to write about the personal side of gardening. I strive to
capture the relationship between people and their gardens or whatever
plant is their passion. I guess the real answer here is that I love to
write about passion.
Every environmental issue hits me hard. Invasives concern me, the loss
and alteration of natural habitats deeply shocks me. A garden is not just
a garden - it's an ecosystem. And all the insects, animals and birds that
revolve around plant life must be protected as we continue to develop this
land. Sensitivity is what it's all about. So I applaud (I give a standing
ovation) to such organizations as the New England Wildflower Society who
labor to increase public awareness of natural ecosystems.
I'm juggling a great many bowling pins, but the project that I can't
tear myself away from at present is a book that I'm doing with Marjolein
Bastin, a naturalist and illustrator who I met through Hallmark. She's
Dutch and has a phenomenal garden in Holland, but she's also got a home in
Missouri where she restored a 350 acre prairie. I've learned so much about
the prairie habitat by working on this project, and it's truly
fascinating. In addition to being a skillful and creative artist,
Marjolein has a deep and rich understanding of the world and nature. I
consider myself very fortunate to be working with her. It's a wonderful
Not really, but I'd just like to say that beyond gardening, being able
to collaborate with and learn from other gardeners has been a great source
of pleasure and knowledge for me. Wherever I go, whoever I speak with, I
always learn from other gardeners. Whenever I lecture, I learn so much
from the audience. I think that gardening lends itself to sharing, and I'm
immensely grateful to everyone who has opened my mind and heart along the
Thank you for asking me, it's been a great pleasure.
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