Ginny Hoyle
How to Breathe

Ginny Hoyle - How to Breathe

Contest - 2nd Place
Ginny Hoyle’s work has appeared in Copper Nickel, MARGIE, Pilgrimage, Wazee and elsewhere. She collaborates with Colorado artist Judy Anderson… Read more »
Shirley Fergenson
How to Leave a Garden

Shirley Fergenson - How to Leave a Garden

Contest - 3rd Place
Shirley Fergenson is the literary fiction specialist at The Ivy Bookshop. This piece is part of a collection of linked… Read more »
Diana Spechler
How to Love a Telemarketer

Diana Spechler - How to Love a Telemarketer

Contest - 1st Place
Diana Spechler is the author of the novels Who by Fire and Skinny. She has written for The New York… Read more »

How to Leave a Garden

Shirley Fergenson

“We must cultivate our garden.” Voltaire


You may never need to know this. I certainly didn’t think I would. But in the name of good sportsmanship, I pass this on.

First you cry, but not near the delphiniums. Their melancholy, stooped, blue spires in no way advocate for their tolerance of salt. Their downright finicky need for full sun, cool temperatures, high humus content, and a neutral pH, should argue against their presence in the garden at all. But it doesn’t. You probably agree. Some things are worth fussing over.

The young plumbagos, on the other hand, wear their baby blue crowns like they’re expecting to be stepped on, spreading willy nilly past defined borders, low to the ground and underfoot. The more mature plumbagos dare you to remember that their prickly brown seedpods were once as soft as the youngsters they replaced. A few tears won’t kill them. Delicate and hardy, I leave them both to you, to fail or thrive without me.

For as many years as it has taken the wanton wisteria to overwhelm the stalwart silver maple, unlucky enough to have been planted too close, I have been friend, midwife, and… Read more »