Giving thanks for happenstance

Bee on sunflower

Sometimes, planning is overrated. If it weren’t for happy accidents, there’d be no Post-Its or penicillin. Strangers sat down randomly at conference lunch table, sowing the magic beans for Savvy Gardening. A young guy in university  residence spotted a girl drying her hair by their common-room radiator and offered his hair dryer.

Reader, I married him.

Margaret Bennet-Alder working in her garden at age 94
The unstoppable Margaret Bennet-Alder working in her garden at age 94.

And, thanks to friendship, my sister and I became accidental self-publishers. Margaret Bennet-Alder, the lovely, visionary, and generous woman who made that happen, will turn 95 in 2022 – the year of her garden journal’s 30th Edition. Sarah and I are now expectant parents of our fifth Toronto and Golden Horseshoe Gardener’s Journal – expected, that is, from the printer in less than ten days.

That’s at a brand-new URL we think better reflects the direction the journal has been heading. It’s already available for preorders online, and by the end of October 2021 should be in stores for in-person sales at Sheridan Nurseries, and the shops of the Toronto Botanical Garden and Royal Botanical Gardens. We feel our good luck.

[UPDATE: It’s now October 27th, and we’ve mailed out the 2022 preorders and have delivered big orders to all the stores above – plus King West Books in Hamilton!]

Over its close-to thirty editions, this little self-published garden diary has sold nearly 20,000 copies. 20,000! The numbers for a Canadian best-seller? About 5,000. Although I like to joke that ours is a “small batch, locally grown, artisanal product” that accumulated its numbers over many years, I still find that total astounding and a little humbling.

Margaret deserves the credit. We carry her baton, each year trying to make it a little shinier as we go.

Every year’s cover is a new adventure. The original shot, over which Sarah waved her graphic design wand, is at the top of this post. I just happened to be passing with a camera as a female longhorn bee landed on a sunflower for a browse. She obliged me with a cover shot that I knew would be perfect for edition number thirty.

Happenstance, again. In this case, a happy-stance, too. We hope you, too, will pop over and have a browse.

What good things have come your way, completely without planning them? We’d love to hear.


    1. Thank you, Jessica. Thanks for your order, too. We’re really looking forward to sharing our latest edition. And we all wish we could be like Margaret!

  1. What a beautiful article, about Margaret and about your continuing journey with your precious journal.

    I too have ordered it, and the first day it arrives I always sit comfortably and read it from cover to cover.


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