The Toronto Gardener’s Journal

This morning, the post brought my copy of the 2009 Toronto Gardener’s Journal by Margaret Bennet-Alder. What a delight!

The author began this project more than 17 years ago, inspired by her son who had created a journal to help him deal with a medical condition. Last April, as she writes in the intro to this year’s journal, Mrs. Bennet-Alder suffered the loss of her husband, and almost considered folding the journal, which has never been a big money-maker for her. After a time, she reconsidered – which is our gain.

In my days as a Master Gardener, I was lucky enough to receive a complimentary copy of one of the first editions of this handy garden journal and source book. Then my sister gave me a copy of the Lee Valley Ten-Year Gardening Journal, and I thought: Why would I need two?

Well, let me tell you: in the intervening years, the Toronto Gardener’s Journal has become a book that every Toronto Gardener should have at their fingertips.

There’s a regional frost guide that might surprise you (downtowners do better than you’d think). A Toronto area soil map makes it easy to see just what lies beneath the surface. In the journal section, you’ll find week-by-week reminders of likely garden chores; and room to record what’s growing when, what you planted where (easy to lose track of from season to season) and to note monthly delights and disappointments. Plus, there’s a long, long list of gardening references, people, places and events. All for $24.95, plus the usual pluses.

The journal calendar begins in January, but for anyone who doesn’t start their own seeds, now is the ideal time to have a copy in your garden-grubby little hands. (Note that I get no benefit from writing this, other than the pleasure of passing along a great tip to other Toronto Gardeners.)


  1. Hi Helen,
    My association with Margaret started in the Garden Writers Association (of which I am the Regional Director). She is one amazing woman. I have enjoyed the Gardener’s Journal for a number of years now and can’t imagine not having it close at hand, especially during the prime gardening months. It keeps me on track, not only in terms of appointments etc., but what I should be doing in the garden. I love the Delights and Disappointments section. We all have lots of both don’t we? And, it’s a great spot to jot down thoughts for next year. The best part of course, is the Source Book at the end. It’s all there and it’s all accurate. Margaret puts a huge amount of work into creating this gem. I don’t think in all my travels I’ve come across a publication so perfect for gardeners. Here’s to Margaret!
    Best, Veronica Sliva

  2. I met Margaret in the 1970's, after joining La Leche League, the organization for breastfeeding mothers. She was the head of LLL in Canada and was a wonderful role model and leader. I bought her first Gardener's Journal when I discovered it by chance at a store.

    Breastfeeding and gardening passions are very similar, and I share them. After I stopped birthing children, I began to birth flowers and vegetables.

    The urge to nurture life, be it human or plant, is probably something one is born with. I know that each new growing thing was well-known and important to me and I took many pictures of them just as I had done of my 6 children.

    As far as choosing Margaret's Journal to buy when one already has a similar book, I suggest that with such a driving, loving force informing one's writing, it's no wonder that it is so well done and so personable. It's like having a friend on your bookshelf.

    I'll always be a big fan (and worshipper!)of Margaret Bennett-Alder. She may not know how widespread her mothering influence really was.

    Marga Raudsepp

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