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if you've never solved a rows garden puzzle before, read this post. even if you have, there's a free puzzle here for you to try your hand at.

answers go into a rows garden puzzle in two ways:

row answers read horizontally from the lettered markers. each row contains two consecutive answers reading left to right, except for rows A and L which each have only one answer reading across the nine protruding spaces at the top or bottom of the grid. often (but not always), the row A answer or clue will be somehow related to roses or gardens.

bloom answers are all six letters long, and read either clockwise or counterclockwise around one of the colored hexagons in the grid. the orientation and starting space of each answer is left for you to determine.

on this blog, there are two versions of each rows garden puzzle, which differ in the way the bloom clues are presented. newer solvers can try the regular version, in which the bloom clues are given in grid order within each colored list. so you will know which hexagon the answer goes into, but you'll still need to figure out where the answer starts and which way it goes around the hexagon. experienced rows gardeners can tackle the thorny version, in which the bloom clues are grouped by color but not otherwise ordered. (more precisely: they are unhelpfully ordered alphabetically by clue within each color group.) it's up to you to figure out which answer goes in which bloom.

other than the ordering of the bloom clues, the two versions are identical—that is, all the clues and answers are the same. so, for example, if you try the thorny version but find yourself getting stuck (pun very much intended), you can peek at the regular version to see where one or two key blooms go in the grid, and then go back to thorny. you're free to try whatever makes your solving experience the most fun.

here is a puzzle of mine that was previously published in will shortz's wordplay magazine (now defunct, alas). if you were a subscriber to that magazine, you may have already done it; if not, it'll be new to you. try either the regular or thorny version, or a mix of both. happy puzzling!

Sample Rows Garden (regular) PDF
Sample Rows Garden (thorny) PDF
Sample Rows Garden (regular) .jpz. to solve this puzzle in your browser, download the .jpz file and then use it with the Crossword Nexus Solver. this only applies to the regular version of the rows garden, not the thorny.
Solution PDF


  1. Marie Christian

    Marie Christian on #

    I received this as a gift. I find the instructions are very confusing. Where is a sample puzzle that I can look out and figure out how one would solve it?

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