An interview with Merilyn Simonds, author of A New Leaf, a book of essays that offer both practical gardening tips and more spiritual musings prompted by a year of growing seasons in her expansive eastern Ontario garden By Sarah Brown
It is a book that started life as a blog. In 2009, writer Merilyn Simonds was looking to explore shorter forms and write about something she loved. That was when her son designed a website for her and a blogging career was born.
Every week Simonds would add one gardening-inspired post as the frugalista gardener. “It was a real delight to write, because there was no sense of having to commit to a really big project,” she explains.
When a frequent visitor to the blog, who also happened to be an editor with Doubleday Canada, suggested that the essays be developed into a book, Simonds was thrilled.
Her blog project grew into the 2011 book A New Leaf, which features 59 essays, most of them beautifully reworked versions of frugalista posts.
The essays are often very contemplative. Do you find yourself composing as you garden? The general spark of what I want to pursue starts in the garden, but I don’t write the essay in my head. I find I need to have a pen in my hand to actually get down to the business of writing. But the initial stimulus comes from working in my gardens — that’s what provokes me into the essay-writing headspace.