Wednesday 24 March 2010

Garden Reads from Ebury Publishing

Spring is all about looking forward to the gardening year ahead, making plans and, if the weather holds, actually getting your finger nails dirty. However, when the weather is not kind or, like me a couple of weeks ago, you have sick children to tend before you finally get a week in the garden, reading about garden techniques, browsing the colourful and enviable photos of healthy crops and flowers and seeking inspiration from the great and knowledgable gardeners of our time, is a great time filler.

Thanks to Ebury Publishing, during my confinement indoors with an ill Garden Boy, I had a selection of new gardening publications to delve into and incase you are looking to satisfy your garden itch on a rainy day with a good book, here is what I thought of them all.

The Edible Garden by Alys Fowler

Last year I really enjoyed watching Alys Fowler on Gardener's World. She has an enthusiasm for gardening which is evident in her presenting and some quirky ideas that add character to her projects. She also has a relaxed attitude to sowing and planting which enables her to 'just give things a go and see if it works'. This attitude to gardening is apparent in her book and if you are looking for inspiration this year then I would really recommend The Edible Garden. It is easy to read. Just open it on any page and before long you will be flicking about for more snippets and ideas. The idea behind the book is that you can 'grow your own' without sacrificing colour and ornamentation. Alys has ideas for companion planting with non-edibles and recommendations for choosing edibles that offer colour and style, as well as great flavour. There are also sections on edible flowers, growing your own in containers and some delicious sounding recipes to round off. It is a coffee table book to be savoured and be inspired by, rather than one to really teach you about growing the various produce she discusses. It is not a garden manual, but a great read and will fill you with ideas for planning your garden and entice you to be a bit more adventurous.

Grow Your Own Garden (How to Propagate all Your Own Plants) by Carol Klein

As the subtitle tells us Carol Klein's latest publication is filled with everything you need to know about propagating your own plants. When we first started our vegetable patch I browsed the book shelves for books that would guide me on the specifics of sowing, caring for and harvesting each vegetable and I found Carol Klein's 'Grow Your Own Vegetables' to be very accessible for a beginner. This accessibility carries through to this publication and she makes propagation sound easy. Her practical explanations and clear enthusiasm make Grow Your Own Garden an ideal manual for those of you making your first attempts at propagation. I will certainly be referring to it this year in an attempt to have more of my own seeds and cuttings for next year. There are sections on collecting and storing seeds and bulbs, taking stem cuttings, layering, lifting and dividing plants, taking offsets and root cuttings and a really interesting chapter of propagating leaves, something I never even knew was possible. A very useful manual, I will making good use of this book and before long the pages are likely to be marked with mucky finger prints and scatterings of soil.

How to Garden by Alan Titchmarsh

This is a series of 11 books rather than one volume and Ebury sent me 'Flowering Shrubs', 'Perennial Garden Plants', 'Greenhouse Gardening' and 'Climbers and Wall Shrubs', but there are volumes on Lawns, Paths and Patios, Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs, Container Gardening, Pruning and Training, Garden Design and Gardening in the Shade as well. They are sold as practical guides to gardening and follow the typical garden manual layout. Of the ones I was sent to look at the 'Greenhouse Gardening' volume was the most relevant to my own needs and I have certainly picked up some useful tips from the book but I can't help thinking that these books do not offer much that is new in their approach. If you already have a selection of gardening books, chances are you already have something similar. The photos are lovely, the information useful and practical and for the beginner there are useful sections on how to choose appropriate plants for your garden, so if you are just building your garden library or you are developing a new area of interest they are definitely worth a look. But otherwise, they are unlikely to offer you anything you can't already find on your shelves. Having said that, I will be seeking out the volume devoted to Gardening in the Shade as I find this a particularly difficult area to find information on and with Alan's expertise and the easy instruction and familiar approach to these books I am sure it will be a good addition to my 'gardening book shelf'.

1 comment:

  1. oohh thanks for those book reviews. I will have to look into getting some of those to read for our allotment. I already have a couple of books under my bed to read but I do love gardening books :-)