A Year in Our Gardens

Letters by Nancy Goodwin and Allen Lacy

By Nancy Goodwin, Allen Lacy

Illustrations by Martha Blake-Adams

A Year in Our Gardens

232 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 13 illus., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-3761-0
    Published: February 2012

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This engaging collection of letters follows the course of a year in the gardens of two passionate gardeners, Nancy Goodwin and Allen Lacy. They share a climate zone (7A), but their gardens differ enormously. Lacy gardens on a 100-by-155-foot plot of former farmland in southern New Jersey, on soil so sandy that he must water frequently if he is to garden at all. Goodwin gardens on rich clay loam at her historic piedmont North Carolina home--which comprises more than sixty acres of woodland, meadow, and established plantings--and she refuses to irrigate, because she believes in growing only those plants that are naturally adapted to the conditions of her land.

Through their letters, Lacy and Goodwin provide a charming and revealing chronicle of their lives and the lives of their gardens. They exchange stories of their horticultural successes and failures; trade information about a great many plants; discuss their hopes, fears, and inspirations; and muse on the connections between gardening and music, family, and friendship.

About the Authors

Nancy Goodwin founded, owned, and managed the well-known Montrose Nursery from 1984 until its closing in 1993. She has written for Fine Gardening, American Gardener, and other periodicals.
For more information about Nancy Goodwin, visit the Author Page.

Allen Lacy, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and formerly garden columnist for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, now writes and publishes the gardening newsletter Homeground. His many books include The Garden in Autumn and The Inviting Garden.
For more information about Allen Lacy, visit the Author Page.


"This exchange of letters between [the authors] is the story of their passionate dedication to gardening and to life. . . . The description of . . . unfamiliar plants presents intriguing possibilities for the gardener. Because of the wealth of plants listed in the index, the book can serve as a supplementary reference."--Fine Gardening

"Much of the charm and appeal of this exchange lies in how these differences of circumstance shape their respective point of view, and more so in the warm affection and respect each holds for the other."--Magnolia Summer

"An engaging addition to the horticultural canon. . . . Both Goodwin and Lacy are exceptionally perceptive writers. Their exchange is marked by an admirably restrained dignity that is not without sometimes whimsical observations. . . . These correspondents have produced a graceful, literate book with their graceful literate letters sent up and down the East Coast. . . . A splendid book."--Durham Herald-Sun

"[These] letters are genuine. . . . I longed to jump into the conversation: Nancy, what's the recipe for your deer spray? Allen, how do I subscribe to your newsletter?. . . . An excellent gift book. . . . It's entertainingly distracting, and can be read in bits and pieces or in one go and Martha Blake-Adams's charming line drawings of scenes from both authors' gardens are additional delights."--American Gardener

"Everything about the physical book [is] stirring: its elegant shape, the frothy purple light in the dust jacket photograph, enthusiastic endorsements on the back panel. . . . Above all, it was the authors of this collection of letters . . . who drew me headlong into some very pleasurable reading. . . . There is no limit to what thoughtful writers find revealed in minute events in even the smallest of places."--Brooklyn Botanic Garden

"A delightful little book. . . . So real are the voices as the two friends discuss their gardens--and life and living--that you'll struggle mightily to keep from joining in and talking about your garden and life, too."--Our State