Joanna Gaines’ new book, We Are The Gardeners, is geared towards children, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all relate to the story it tells—of trying, failing, and trying again on the journey to creating a garden from scratch. The book comes out March 26 (preorder information here), but having seen the Gaines’s envy-inducing garden, we’re thinking the ending is a happy one.
In anticipation of the book, we asked Joanna about her own gardening journey, and how she’s passing that passion on to her own kids. Here’s what she had to say:
Photography courtesy of Magnolia Blog.
On gardening as a child:
“Growing up, my father had a large garden in our backyard. I remember he’d be out there picking weeds at night, and it looked to me like a lot of hard work after he’d already worked all day, but I’ve come to realize that the time he spent in our garden was his way of unwinding at the end of the day. I’ve always joked that I got my love for plants—both indoor and out—from him. Because of my dad, gardening has always been on my radar, but it wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I started to appreciate gardening as a way to retreat the same way that my dad did. And of course any time my kids join me out in the garden it is always an added bonus.”
On getting her own kids involved:
“When they were younger I’d ask for their help simply because I needed all hands on deck. Getting a garden started can be a lot of work and I just couldn’t keep up on my own. I always found that once my kids’ hands hit the soil, they were hooked and loved being there with me. I make it a point to have them help me with every stage—the planting, tending, and gathering—so that they can experience the gratification that comes from hard work and seeing something through.”
On beginner gardening mistakes:
“When I first started, I think I assumed that because I could keep most of my houseplants alive, that also meant that I had a good enough green thumb to grow a garden successfully. Obviously, that’s not quite how it works. So at first, I made a lot of the basic mistakes—things like direct sunlight versus indirect sunlight as well as water intake and frequency. In the first few seasons that I gardened, only half of the stuff I planted actually grew properly. And that was fine with me; all of the work I’d put in still felt worth it, and that’s when I knew that I really loved the whole process. The goal for me was really never to become an expert, I just always wanted to stay curious and eager to learn something new.”
On what she wishes she’d known:
“I definitely would have asked more questions and researched in the beginning. Eventually, I realized that a short conversation with an expert at a nursery or a quick internet search was the most helpful way to navigate caring for a garden. Over time, I realized I had to be willing to learn, and to become a student of my garden.”
On her favorite plant to grow:
“I love my roses. They are so tough and hearty, and truly the most beautiful and fragrant flower to me. I love to think about how one day, long from now and likely after the kids are all grown, many of the same rose bushes we have now will still be growing in our garden.”
More inspiring garden journeys:
- Before & After: Restoring a Forgotten Garden from the Gilded Age in Newport, RI
- A Movable Garden: Saying Goodbye to a Brooklyn Backyard
- Rehab Diary: A Year in the Life of a Brooklyn Garden
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