Gardening books for Christmas gifts 2017

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Here are 5 gardening books on my Christmas List this year

I always put gardening books on my Christmas list. They’re the perfect gift for me, and for all gardeners. At this time of year, when the sun hasn’t come up when I go to work and has long since set before I leave for home, the opportunities for gardening become squeezed. With a book, you can visit other gardens, learn new techniques, and improve your own skills whilst the winter garden rests untended outside.

As the proud owner of a gardening bookshelf that dwarfs our local bookshop’s offerings, you’d think I wouldn’t have space for any more titles. You’d be wrong. We’re building a new bookcase next year and there are so many books I’ve come across this year that I’ve made a gardening books Christmas List.

Previous Christmas gardening books wishlists

Gardening books for Christmas gifts 2016

8 Books for my gardening bookshelf Christmas 2015

Epic Tomatoes

by Craig LeHoullier

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I’ve learnt about my namesake Craig LeHoullier from Jennifer Ebeling‘s (6ft mama) podcast – Still Growing. I’ve been listening and interacting with Jennifer for over a year now and I really like her interviews with interesting people. Craig has a wealth of experience growing tomatoes and is particularly involved in finding and breeding heirloom varieties that are in danger of being lost. Most importantly he’s clear on the merits of a tomato for different uses in the kitchen as well as ease of growing. I’m hoping to find a robust outdoor bush tomato to use the space on my allotment.

The Garden Photography Workshop

by Andrea Jones 
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I heard about this book listening to Andrea on Peter Donegan’s Sod Show Podcast this year. I really like photography and I occasionally take to my garden with SLR in hand. It would be great to improve my amateur skills.

The Thoughtful Gardener

by Jinny Blom

This book on garden design has had some strong reviews so I’m keen to see what it’s like. I’m a big fan of Jinny Blom’s planting and it would be good to see how she plans, and implements, her designs.

RHS Genealogy for Gardeners

by Simon Maughan and Ross Bayton

I have the two other books in this RHS series of plant geekery. Latin for Gardeners was released in 2012, with Botany for Gardeners following in 2013. These small, beautifully illustrated, handbooks are the perfect thing for plant nerds to get a better understanding of the science and history of gardening. I’m hoping that Genealogy for Gardeners will be just as good.

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Tender – Volumes I & II

by Nigel Slater

Now I know that, technically, this isn’t a gardening book. I’d say it’s gardening adjacent. I’ve had my allotment since April and I’m hoping for big things next year. The whole point of the allotment was to provide some fresh, seasonal food for us to cook and eat. I’ve mastered my sauteed Cavelo Nero with garlic and it’s become a staple in the weekly meal plan. I’d like to do more with what I grow and I’ve read some amazing reviews of these two books.
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Book Review: Rhapsody in Green – Charlotte Mendelson

Book Review: Rhapsody in Green - Charlotte Mendelson

Book Review: Rhapsody in Green

Charlotte Mendelson

Back in  December, I listed a few books on my Christmas list that I hoped to get my sticky-from-all-the-mince-pies hands on and this was one of them. I’d not heard about Charlotte before but this title kept cropping up on my Twitter feed and book review sections of magazines so I thought I’d better give it a read.

What it’s about

Charlotte is a London-based novelist who is trapped between her insatiable addiction to gardening and the realities of a small back garden. Very few of us have the perfect garden and Charlotte captures the longing for more space, better harvests, less slug damage, and infatuation with catalogue descriptions. It’s a very real, very personal, diary.

Book structure

The book is ordered into chapters covering early, mid and late periods of the four seasons. That’s where the structure ends, unfortunately. The sub-chapters are more random in their construction with topics seemingly placed without order. On its own, this isn’t a problem; it’s a good book for reading intermittently, and the variety would keep it interesting. My main issue is the topic creep. What starts off talking about compost might end, instead, discussing bees. This, as a spreadsheet and listmaker, I found irritating and a thorough editing would have improved it.

Readability

That being said, Charlotte is clearly a very gifted writer. Her sentences are rich with description and the tone throughout the book is engaging. Her observations are spot on and there’s humour throughout the book.

Resources

I like the list of other books that have inspired and informed her gardening; titled The Blacklist, ‘they will lead you astray; approach with caution’.

Summary

I nice read for someone who has a less-than-perfect garden and is looking for reassurance that it isn’t always like it says in the books. Engaging text but would have benefited from tighter editing to keep things on topic.

 

Book Review: Real Gardens – Adam Frost

Book Review: Real Gardens - Adam Frost

Book Review: Real Gardens

 Adam Frost

Book Review: Real Gardens - Adam Frost
Book Review: Real Gardens – Adam Frost

Adam Frost is cropping up all over the place at the moment, fronting a hugely popular segment in Gardeners’ World – the Twitter reaction has been encouraging – and taking us around the Chelsea Flower Show 2017. It’s taken me a while to warm to him and I don’t know why. However, I’m now firmly in the fan club and listened to him speak at my local Toby’s GardenFest. He came across as very down to earth, humble about his impressive achievements and very approachable. As I’m doing more designing, in my own space and for others,  I was drawn to his book detailing the process and plans involved in designing his seven gold medal-winning gardens at Chelsea.

What it’s about

The book aims to show the inspiration for each of the gardens and also taking a look at Adam’s own experiences in developing them. It’s as much about him as the gardens themselves.

Book structure

Each garden is given its own chapter. Information about the concept, the inspiration, the sponsorship and the build are all covered. The plants used are described in the text but there’s also a section showing some key plants used in the design in more detail. Built components are given in plan form drawings should you be tempted to recreate them. A garden plan image is provided to make sense of the layout. Smaller boxes are dotted about taking some information that’s not directly about the garden into an aside should you want to know more. Examples of this are a mini-biography of Frank Lloyd Wright and John Clare, the inspiration for Adam’s 2012 garden. These add a depth of information that doesn’t clutter the focus of the book.

Readability

This book would fall into the coffee-table-book end of the spectrum. It’s easy to read but is much more engaging than the normal offerings in this category. Adam’s warm and self-deprecating text draws you in and he comes across as thoroughly likeable. Importantly, there’s no grandstanding or peacock about his description of these gardens.

Resources

The drawing plans of the garden structures, although interesting, would likely only appeal to a small number of readers who would go out to build and recreate some of the hard landscaping. More useful would have been a list of suppliers for materials, rills, obelisks, plants etc so you could start work on sourcing items for your own space. I loved the garden design plans and seeing the finished gardens alongside these is great.

Summary

A beautifully presented garden design book. The images are stunning and the text explains the ideas and skills used to create the gardens. Adam’s story is equally engaging and the whole book is a treat for fans, designers and gardeners.

Book Review: Book Review: The Apple Orchard -The Story of our most English fruit – Pete Brown

Book Review: The Apple Orchard -The Story of our most English fruit - Pete Brown

Book Review: The Apple Orchard

The Story of our most English fruit

Pete Brown

Back in  December I listed a few books on my Christmas list that I hoped to get my sticky-from-all-the-mince-pies hands on. An Amazon voucher from my sister-in-law meant I was able to purchase the hardback of this book guilt free. I’m really glad I did. It may not be for everyone, I gave it to my mum to read whilst I was finishing another book and she couldn’t get into it as ‘it was all about apples’. Apparently, there’s a certain amount of NerdAlert needed to read this.

What it’s about

The blurb says this is going to be the author spending a year in the apple-growing regions of the UK uncovering the mythology and the true history of the apple.

Book structure

The book is sorted into sections titled Blossoming, Fruiting, Ripening, Harvesting, Celebrating, Transforming, and Slumbering. These are all pretty self-explanatory and nicely echo the rhythm of the yearly cycle in the orchard. The chapters are a good length, perfect for reading a couple before bed or during your morning commute.

Readability

Pete’s writing style is excellently engaging. The unexpected F-bombs remind me of chatting with a friend rather than being lectured at by a professor which would have been a risk had the tone of the book been more traditional. I like it. It’s so much more approachable and will win over someone not sure how much they’re into non-fiction books. The shortish chapters and humorous observations, akin to Bill Bryson, make it very easy to plough through the book faster than you’d like. I even put it down to read a magazine for a few days just so I didn’t rush it.

Resources

At the end of the book is a reading list should your interest be peaked. This is a nice touch. After getting all fired up with optimism about small-scale private growers (not the bits on commercial farming and the general public’s changing tastes – that’s truly depressing) it would have been nice to have a list of UK growers if you wanted to source your own orchard. I suppose ten minutes on Google would probably give you that.

Summary

Simultaneously informative and enjoyable, this book did exactly what I hoped it would, but in a style that was refreshing and engaging. I’ve not read his other works on Cider and Beer but that matters not when this book is so good. I’m glad I went for the hardback as it now sits on my gardening shelf proudly.

Where to get you gardening fix when you don’t have your own garden  

Finding opportunities for horticulture

Whatever your circumstances, if you have an interest in gardening and horticulture, there are many ways to find information and immerse yourself when your situation isn’t perfect. Lots of people have dreams of a rolling country estate with a perfect garden but most of us have to make do with what we’ve got. Whether our space is limited, if we are in a rental property where there is no access to proper soil, or if disability puts a limit to what can be achieved outside, here are some ways to join this wonderful community of gardeners.

Since moving to Australia 2 years ago I’ve come to rely on other sources of gardening entertainment when I haven’t been able to do much proper gardening as described here.

Blogs

Top of this list is blogs. If you want to experience what it’s like to garden in the UK or further afield just find yourself a useful blog and live vicariously through others. Here are a couple  of my favourites;

Real Men Sow  – Jono takes you through the year by showing how much he has been able to grow in his allotment. He’s recently moved to a new garden so watch this space for new adventures.

The Patient Gardener  – Helen gardens in Malvern and shares the changing seasons through her blog that I’ve followed for a couple of years.

Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to infuse your day with some gardening when time or chores don’t allow proper hands in the dirt gardening. Here’s the list of my top 5 UK Podcasts.

Books

I brought a whole bookcase of gardening books with me when I moved. I’m always on the lookout for new releases and I have an amazon wishlist building for good Christmas and Birthday present ideas.

8 Books for my gardening bookshelf this Christmas

New gardening books for Christmas gifts 2016

Botanical Gardens

Wherever you find yourself there are always public and private gardens to visit. What always amazes me is how many of them offer free entry.

Melbourne Botanic Garden

Singapore Botanic Garden

Phuket Botanic Garden

Bicton Botanic Garden

Wildflower Hunting

Whether you’re in a rural or urban environment it doesn’t take much to explore your surroundings and find horticulture on your doorstep.

Singapore Airport

Down Under Wildflowers

Holiday Horticulture: Hayman Island

Holiday Horticulture: Italy 

 

How do you get your gardening fix?