The Last Garden: A Memoir by Liza Ketchum 2020

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.