IT'S midwinter. Gardeners pore over the newest seed catalogs
with visions of next summer's bountiful harvest. They dream of
tomatoes as big as cabbages, of roses and raspberries and ruffled
petunias. This year some may dream of a "Martha Stewart" garden.
Martha Stewart, the first lady of good taste and entertaining,
has inspired thousands with her book "Entertaining," with its
attractive table settings and plans for weddings and parties.
Author of nine best-selling cookbooks as well as syndicated
columns, star of four videos and speaker at seminars, she now has a
new book for the American home, "Martha Stewart's Gardening"
(Clarkson Potter, $50).
Stewart's six-acre "place in the country" in Westport, Conn.,
has for the last 20 years been the center of her gardening.
"Actually, I've been gardening since I was very young," she
said in a Monitor interview at Boston's Ritz Carlton. "My father
taught me a lot and I've kept on learning on my own, and from
experts and friends."
Demystifying gardening as she did entertaining and decorating,
Stewart's book quotes from her own journals and gives
month-by-month garden advice that will appeal to anyone with a
10-square-foot plot or a 10-acre estate.
"In the '90s, people will be taking more time to make their
surroundings attractive and to get closer to family and friends,"
she predicts. "The home and garden will become more important than
ever. Gardening is a family-oriented activity that anyone can do."
Her several lucrative businesses are conducted from her restored
19th-century home, where she works with two gardeners, four office
staffers, and help from her family.
"My sister-in-law is office manager and my mother - a retired
school teacher - helps with sewing whenever necessary and special
projects, such as preserving," she explains.
Martha's sister, Laura, previously in charge of the kitchen, is
now pregnant, and the kitchen staff "once important for catering,
has not been needed for about four years. It's all very
compatible," she says.
Five years in the making, the new gardening book is a large,
handsome, colorful volume. It's a serious guide to gardening.
Stunning combinations of old English engravings have been combined
with superb photographs by Elizabeth Zeschin.
"I suppose I've been influenced by the English school of
gardening more than any other; I am constantly amazed at what fine
and thoughtful gardeners that small country produced," she said.
"It is where I have found much inspiration, as well as more
An antique brick path leads to the house, work studios, and
pool. There's a small smoke house by the herb garden, a vegetable
garden, a Belgian fence, and a shade garden near the woods. A
different entrance through the stone wall leads to the barn, past
the berries on one side, a new orchard on the other side of the
drive, and daffodils and other spring bulbs along a six-foot-high
But it was not always this way.
From begonias to botrytis blight, Martha Stewart knows the ABCs
of planting and has learned much from "doing."
She talks as easily about how to detect whiteflies and beetles,
thrips and scale, as she does about the 30 varieties of sweet peas
available from the Thompson & Morgan seed company. She is
knowledgeable about companion planting and is happy to tell you of
the natural predators for garden pests. …