Gardening in cold-climates is not easy — ice, snow, wind, heat, humidity, bugs, cold and more cold. We deal with it. But there is joy and beauty in northern gardens—and despite our climate, northerners grow some of the prettiest gardens around.
And, while we don’t like to admit this, growing a garden in the North isn’t that hard. It just takes a little know-how and a willingness to make mistakes.
Some people learn gardening from their parents or grandparents. Others are like me, they stumble into a love of gardening by accident — and learn everything they know by trial and error (lots of error). Certainly, no one who knew me growing up would guess that the bookish girl hanging out on the couch would someday love planting trees, digging compost and pruning tomatoes. Like many new gardeners, I walked into the garden through the kitchen door, and my first garden experiments included herbs, tomatoes, asparagus and other fruits and vegetables. Later I learned to love perennials, shrubs and trees.
I’ve seen lots of failure in the garden along the way, but also learned what works. My garden mantras are: plant mostly native plants for ornamental purposes, try any fruit or vegetable that has a chance to grow in our climate and never buy a plant you can’t afford to kill.
I’m a freelance writer and editor by trade and about a decade ago I got a freelance gig editing Northern Gardener, the publication of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society. That job, plus lots of trial and error in my garden in Northfield, Minnesota, prompted me to start this blog, where I share how-tos, plant information, recipes, book recommendations and fun.
The blog led to my first garden book, The Northern Gardener: From Apples to Zinnias (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2017), which covers gardening in the North, from A-to-Z as well as some history of gardening in Minnesota. It was written to be an introduction to cold-climate growing for new and young gardeners. I also share my passion for cold-climate gardening through talks to library groups, garden clubs and other organizations. If you are looking for a speaker, wander over to this page and check my latest list of topics. I’d love to speak with your group.
Currently, I’m starting over in the garden with a small, urban yard in St. Paul. There’s a lot to do, a lot to learn and a lot to share on this new journey. Join me!