Margaret Roach

Margaret Roach, the In the Garden columnist for the New York Times, is inspired by the seasons. When the spring comes along, she writes, she starts planting. So what are some benefits to gardening?

For Roach, gardening was a kind of therapy when she was caring for her mother, who had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. In a 2021 interview, Roach explained that planting things helped her find balance between caring for her mother and her then-copy job at the Times. She has been gardening ever since–for more than four decades–and her inspiration to grow plants runs deep. She explains:

“For me, the garden is kind of part Buddhist retreat, part science laboratory. It’s not outdoor decorating. There’s a lot of beauty, a lot of aesthetics — but that would be a shallow interpretation and a shallow experience.”

Roach likes to attract moths at night and search for birds in her Columbia County, N.Y. garden. She’s also interested not just in the how of gardening, but in the why: why, for example, tomatoes need to be spaced in a particular way, or why tulip bulbs need to be planted at a specific depth.

Her holistic approach takes into account the whole garden and what is going on in the ecosystem. How planting one tree can help encourage visits from birds and how mushrooms can nurture the soil and create an environment that promotes the growth of other plants. (And by the way, this is central to what we do at Terra. Our relationships with the earth, ourselves, and each other is at the heart of Terra’s global community.) 

What are your favorite benefits from gardening?

What inspiration do you get from it? In what ways are you thinking about your backyard ecosystem when you are planting your backyard garden? Share your thoughts in the comments.

[…] nourishing and killing plants, surviving in space, inducing visions, producing food, making medicines, manipulating animal behavior, and influencing the composition of the earth’s […]

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