Category: books

Being Realistic…

flood-defences-river-mole-surrey

Flood defences on the River Mole, near Hampton Court, Surrey

 I did not intend to refer to the weather yet again, for the rain has been incessant; the wind up to gale force at times and a constant grey pall hanging over this part of the Cotswolds. Actually today is actually quite pleasant, though the ground is far too wet for gardening out of doors. With the sun shining, is does provide a moment of opportunity to take photos, which is an ongoing requirement for any journalist. Last weekend we were taking images elsewhere in the Cotswolds – I’m always on the lookout for images that I can stitch into the booklets I make, and bare trees are a recurring subject – which have to be taken before bud-burst.

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December miscellany

Narcissi from the florist and twigs from the garden

Narcissi from the florist and
twigs from the garden

As we all rush towards Christmas willy-nilly – or it towards us – it is all too easy to become absorbed in the usual commercial hype, and forget that it is meant to be a time of peace and goodwill. And what better way to take stock than to walk around the garden and mentally note what could be cut and brought indoors to beautify your living space. Truly, it can have a calming influence, as I found when I clipped a spray of hazel to add to this vase of paperwhites.  Normally, I would have had my own already in flower but this year has not gone according to plan and nothing garden-wise is as it should be. So I bought these, to support a newly-opened local florist in town.

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Christmas Bookshelf plus Gifts & Treats

Some of my favourite gardening books - gifts and purchases acquired over many years.

Some of my favourite gardening books – gifts and purchases acquired over many years.

Gardening books are always welcome at Christmas – or treat yourself! Many titles are so useful that you will want to keep them on the bookshelf and refer to them regularly. The Dobies Christmas Gift Catalogue list four titles worthy of a permanent place in a garden library – and they have packaged each with a generous quantity of free packets of Dobies seeds; excellent value.

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Gardens on the move

Oxeye daisies in profusion

Oxeye daisies in profusion, plus bilberries, wild strawberries, clover, vetch, speedwell, bird’s foot trefoil, eyebright, herb robert, foxgloves and so many more

My plan to blog live from Ireland was a failure as such WiFi connections as I was able to access were so slow and intermittent that posting anything more than a short email proved impossible. But that did not stop me writing nor my husband and I taking photographs wherever we travelled – 1,000 miles from door to door. So my ‘News from Ireland’ is a longer than normal post – two weeks rolled into one. It’s surprising when one is away from home how plans for the garden gel when the day-to-day tasks of sowing and planting and weeding are not uppermost in your mind. So we forgot how the grass would be growing out of control in the orchard, or that the veg would either be dying for lack of moisture or drowned in yet more rain. With little traffic on most Irish roads, we had time to enjoy the diversity of wild flowers – and likewise the insects they attracted. Even though our garden at home is part wilderness, the sight of such profusion reminded me of the importance of creating wild areas in even the smallest plot.

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Summer Reading

The long light evenings of Summer always seem to me to be a good time to catch up on reading. What better opportunity is there when gardening tasks are done than to sit down with a good and informative book? Time to discover more, new techniques perhaps, for with gardening there is always something new to learn. So here is a gardening book update – not new (for I always have a pile of books on my desk waiting to be included) but each of the three titles is worthy of re-visiting if you already have it on your shelf. Links are provided for you to purchase online at reduced prices.

no nettles required cover

no nettles required cover

‘No Nettles Required’ by plant ecologist and university lecturer, Ken Thompson, is sub-titled ‘the truth about wildlife gardening’. It’s highly informative and written as a series of very readable chatty essays – and just the right size to slip into a pocket if you are headed for the beach or other holiday venue and wish you were still at home in your garden! KT quite rightly states that “encouraging wildlife is entirely compatible with ordinary gardening, costs next to nothing and is entirely effortless. Don’t leave home without it. Published in 2007 by Transworld Publishers, buy it here.

 

 

‘Making the most of your Glorious Glut’

‘Making the most of your Glorious Glut’

‘Making the most of your Glorious Glut’ is more recent, but one that has been awaiting a suitable slot – and of course Summer is the perfect time for “cooking, storing, freezing, drying and preserving your garden produce”. On far too many occasions we just do not know what to do with all we grow. Indeed, it was a gift of a bag of runner beans that inspired the author, Jackie Sherman, to write this book. There are dozens of tasty meals – warm salads seem perfect for the wet June days we are experiencing as I write. Variations on a theme and unusual recipes will prevent your partner and offspring from commenting “not again!” JS covers storage methods, preserves, dried fruit and beg, sauces and spreads, drinks, and, on the recipe front, starters and salads, side dishes, main meals, desserts, bread and cakes. She also offers tips on actually reducing gluts and planning what you sow and grow according to harvesting times. Published in 2011 by Green Books, buy it here.

 

‘The Herb Garden’

‘The Herb Garden’

‘The Herb Garden’ is one of those books that you never tire of re-reading, if you are passionate about herbs. I was reminded that I had at least two copies sitting on my bookshelf when the author, Sarah Garland (whom I had never met) unexpectedly turned up at the end of our drive to buy eggs and started asking about keeping chickens! We got talking about gardens, as one does when gardeners get together; and the fact we were both authors emerged as we chatted. Looking at SG’s book again, I realised why I so love it, for it is a complete (and scholarly) illustrated guide to growing scented, culinary and medicinal herbs in beautiful garden settings.  The history of herb gardens is included plus plans for creating a number of topic-related herb plots with instructions for constructing different features.  Cultivation is attended to as well, plus a catalogue of over 250 herbal plants; and an excellent index. Published by Frances Lincoln in 1984 (hardback) and 2003 (paperback), it is sadly no longer in print but second-hand copies are readily available online.