If memory serves (the older I get, the less accurately it does), I met Margaret Roach online three years back, when she emailed me to introduce herself and her (then) new blog, A Way to Garden. Of course, I recognized her at once as the garden editor of Martha Stewart Living magazines (and later editorial director of several departments). Like many gardeners, I rarely took a second glance at the magazine, but was often compelled to pick up the spring special gardening editions through Margaret’s years as its editor.
I have to admit that I was initially surprised to hear from her and even more surprised by how charming, warm, funny, intelligent, sincere, corny, and down to earth she is. Why I was surprised at all is the result of poor judgement and a ridiculous class-based bias on my part. If you have ever read Margaret’s first book, “A Way to Garden” then you will already know these things about her. She won me over utterly and completely from the very start. So much about our lives (and gardening lives) is vastly different, and yet we have an awful lot in common.
Probably the most surprising thing I learned about Margaret and the detail that still tickles me most is that she is a 100%, all-around badass. Oh yes, perhaps not the best word — and I hope she doesn’t stop speaking to me over this– but even now, a few years and several meandering emails later, when I think of Margaret, “rebellious” is the first word that comes to mind. It takes a lot of guts to leave a high paying, uber “successful” career, and move out to the country alone to pursue a personal passion. Margaret doesn’t pander, follow the rules, or march to anyone else’s beat. Not anymore. She made a radical life change, is continuing to live it, and has chronicled the very personal details of the first year of this experience in her recently published “drop-out memoir”, “And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road.” I won’t give anything away, but the story is a compelling and revealing one. Margaret doesn’t hold back on the difficult parts or steep it in an unrealistically saccharine glaze. She tells it with her whole heart including a cast of unexpected characters (Jack the demon cat and the frog boys to name a few), beautiful prose, and a lot of that corny humour that makes her so especially charming.
Margaret and I recently decided to interview each other and offer our respective books up as a giveaway on our sites. The following is my interview with Margaret. You can read her interview with me on her website. Below that are instructions for entering to win one of four sets of books.