Former Shows & Episodes

The Manic Gardener

Kate Gardner

The Manic Gardener – Thrifty Gardening with Marjorie Harris

If you’re a Canadian Gardener, chances are that you’ve heard of Marjorie Harris, but we below the 49th parallel may not be so fortunate. The author of seventeen books, fifteen of them on gardening, Marjorie keeps in shape with her weekly column in the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s leading newspapers. She’s also a speaker, videocaster, garden designer, and this week’s guest on the Manic Gardener.

Her topic, of course, is Thrifty Gardening, which is the title of her most recent book, or half of it: Thrifty Gardening: from the ground up. That book, by the way, is not only useful, but hilarious. (She refers to gardening catalogues as “garden porn.”)

In both book and podcast, Marjorie tackles the topic from every angle. Prospective house buyers are encouraged to skip the usual glance at the garden, which usually serves merely to ascertain if it’s beautiful. That, Marjorie says, matters not a whit: you can make it beautiful. But your hands, she tell us, should indeed feel of the soil, and your eyes should wander over the neighbor’s fence; a weeping willow or Norway maple next door could sound the death knell for your own garden.

Then there’s one of those “cruel to be kind” moments: Marjorie says that hiring a landscaper will often save you money, if you don’t have the time and energy to educate yourself about what plants will work best with your soil, weather, latitude, and light conditions. Now, when most garden advisers say or write “or hire a professional,” they figure their work is done. Not Marjorie. She tells us how to choose one. My favorite test is to ask the ostensible professional if peat moss is a fertilizer.

Near the end of the show, Marjorie mentions in passing—trust me, it’s not a confession—that she goes through garbage (okay, recycling bins) for the fire irons she uses to support plants and for other metal that she hides throughout her garden. Within the same minute, she says that gardening is “an intellectual pursuit,” and that the cog half-hidden beneath the cherry tree comments both on this bit of machine in the garden and on the possible relationship between the shapes of cherry tree and of cog.

This is a woman to reckon with.

Check the blog, The Manic Gardener, for more stories, information, and links.