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The Last Garden
Rootstock, 2023
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The Last Garden: A Memoir


About the Book


Writer Liza Ketchum invites the reader on a gardener’s personal journey that begins and ends in Vermont. In settings as varied as the Adirondacks, a New York suburb, coastal Florida and Oxfordshire, England, she profiles the gardeners—mostly women, but occasionally men—whose  techniques and wisdom influenced Liza’s life in the garden. These early relationships shaped the gardens she created in a high mountain town; in a pocket-sized city yard surrounded by concrete; and finally, in “The Last Garden” of this memoir. Readers will meet members of Liza’s family, as well as memorable gardeners such as Nancy Lancaster (famed for her English Country Garden style), fine artist Arthur Jones, and organic gardener and educator Helen Haskell. Liza shares the ways that gardens have provided beauty, comfort and inspiration throughout her life, during periods of change, loss, and renewal. Bobbi Angell’s detailed, monochrome drawings illustrate the specific plants that trigger memories of Liza’s life in the garden.


"These two beautiful books make wonderful reading, bringing memories, gardening lore, and scientific understanding to all who admiringly turn their pages." (Laura C. Stevenson, "A Memoir of Vermont and a Bee Picture Book, Both for Gardeners," Deerfield Valley News, 22 July 2021. Read her full article.)

“What do you get when you combine a book about gardening in Vermont and Watertown, MA, a book featuring epigraphs introducing each chapter with quotes from favorite authors (Pastan, Merwin, Kunitz, Oliver, Mazur, Lively, Perenyi), and a book by an old friend?—the answer is, a terrific read!

“I met Liza Ketchum years ago when we used to meet monthly at 5:00AM in all seasons on the Western Avenue Bridge between Cambridge and Boston to dip a pail down to the Charles River and sample water for pH, bacteria, and temperature, all in volunteer service to the Charles River Watershed Association’s successful attempt to clean up the Charles.

“Years later, Ketchum the author of more than 17 YA books and a teacher of writing at a number of colleges, has written a fine book about family members from four generations and their influences and intersections with her gardens. The book is accompanied by lovely sketches of plants, one for each chapter, and the combination of epigraph, drawing, and writing is a winning one.

“Whether you are an expert in the garden or someone who doesn’t know their viburnum from their viola, you will find this book informative and interesting. I was continually amazed by the author’s ability to remember individuals from her past and their contributions to her gardening nature. This is more a book about family than a ‘how to garden’ book, but I think you’ll enjoy it and find yourself reading with a notepad handy to jot down ideas for your next garden project.” (Michael Epstein,, not dated)

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