Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Bliss Review

A few weeks ago I was asked if I would like to review this book, no strings attached. One look at the cover made me say yes. If you know me at all, then you know that organic is right up my street and as this book claims to be 100 % organic, how could I refuse? A few days after I had said yes, I received the book through the mail. It made a resounding thump in my mailbox because, good heavens, is this a hefty tome or what; 820 pages in all!

Reviewing gardening books is teamwork at Bliss so after I had unwrapped the book this happened.
Hey, what's this, a new book?
Vita (l) to her daughter Dolly: it looks very interesting, don't you think?
Dolly: very much so, I like it, it's mine!
Dolly to Merlin: paws off, I said it's mine!

Well, then it was time for the cavalry to make its appearance (aka me) and after I had smoothed some ruffled fea... er fur, all was well once again and I finally had the chance to get my hot little hands on the book and do a spot of reading. And what a great read it was. Barbara Damrosch has a very pleasant writing voice, not at all didactic, and she knows her onions, and her flowers, shrubs, trees, soil and insects too. It took me a while to read it all - did I mention hefty tome? - but it was well worth the effort.

It's a very practical, down to earth kind of book, stuffed to the gills with very useful information and advice. Being of the hefty tome variety this book can be a bit daunting to the novice gardener; do I have to read and know all this? The answer to that is no, not all at once anyway. This book is very suitable for reading in drips and drabs as it is a *let's look it up* book, something you return to again and again. On that note a word to the wise: if you want to buy it, buy the hardback as it will last that much longer.

The book covers practically everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask ;-) about gardening organically; there are chapters about houseplants, wild flowers (bonus!), trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, lawns (this chapter should be a mandatory read for everyone who has a lawn or is thinking of getting one), roses, bulbs, fruits, herbs, vegetables, perennials, annuals, how to buy plants, gardening gear (Carol of May Dreams Gardens will be relieved to know that hoes are mentioned and illustrated too, although not the kind that earned Mr Brown Thumb's post a well deserved Mousie nomination), planning your landscape and what plants need. I also like the fact that it doesn't only contain useful info but that Barbara shares her own gardening experiences too about which combinations she made and how they worked out etc.

Are there any downsides to this book I hear you ask. Well yes, why go for this
when you can have something like this.
Personally I have a hard time identifying insects from drawings, having a good clear picture makes things that much easier. And let's face it, who would want to make do with this
when you can have something like this? Let's be realistic, we gardeners just love eye candy, don't we? I know, I do.
The Bliss team found something to gripe about too; in the chapter about perennials cat mint is mentioned but catnip?
Well, not so much! Really Barbara, this will not do. Many gardeners are very fond of cats and enjoy making their kittycats happy with the odd sprig of catnip or two. See what I mean?
Vita rolling in catnip
Dolly transported to ethereal heights by the same stuff

So for your next edition, please research all things catnip thoroughly, thank you!

To sum things up, The Garden Primer written by Barbara Damrosch gets the Bliss head rub of approval as demonstrated here so eloquently by Surprise under the watchful eye of Kadootje (=small present).
Copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Some gardeners regard all creeping and flying things as foes. That is a mistake, for they include friends as well.
Allotment and Garden Guides, April 1945


Lisa at Greenbow said...

This "team review" may just be my favorite book review of all times. Entertaining while informative, the best.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

This is a great "team review"! Cats are so curious, too funny.
I always prefer actual pictures to drawings.

Rachel in Georgia said...

I really liked the team review. :)

I tend to agree with you about having photos instead of drawings of plants, insects etc. However, I do think that those drawings were some of the best I've ever seen in a gardening book, I could actually distinguish among the roses and insects.

Anonymous said...

This is, as everyone else has said, the best book review of all time! It clearly gets a four- (or was that five-) paws up! Priceless!!!

Brimstone said...

Jullie zijn als Bliss Team niet over één nacht ijs gegaan, maar hebben het boek echt grondig gelezen!
Een aanrader dus! Zal het zeker onthouden.

Weed Whackin' Wenches said...

Wonderful team review! Just like our trio, full of kitty curiosity. Our little black one would sit atop the tome and yowl loudly if either of the other 2 tried to get close. --Curmudgeon

lenie said...

oefff , kijk leuk boek , maar moet zowiezo in de hardcover ..oftewel gebonden versie !!
de tekeningen zijn super (zelf illustrator ) maar hadden in kleur gemogen !! Beter nog ..foto's , doe ik dus ook nu !!
dus ik heb zo mijn bedenkingen ....want tuinboeken zijn er genoeg en deze zou véél beter gekunt hebben !!
jammer ...maar kopen doe ik hem dus daarom niet ...kieskeurig hé !!! hihihihihi
maar ja ....doe ook zelf in illustratie's ..lichtelijk bevooroordeeld ...;)
OT: hoe zit het met jouw verhaal eigenlijk ???? hoor niets meer ??
zit nu midden in Buitenleven wel errug leuk ;) is al kerst hihihihi ;)

kate smudges said...

Cats are much better review team members than dogs. This book is getting positive reviews everywhere -

Anja said...

Hi Yolanda, ik heb eigenlijk even een soort van 'tribute to' aan jou geschreven op mn blog... misschien vind je het leuk om te lezen. Bedankt voor de adviezen, de info, de foto's, het 'leesvoer'! Groetjes, Anja

Cheryl said...

The book sounds like a very good one to have.
The cats are beautiful, and such a lot of fun added to your post.
I agree with you on insects, they are so important, keep our gardens balanced. I have bats in my loft, and they feed on the insects that I encourage. I never harm anything if I can avoid it.
Love your posts so very much.

Marian said...

Ja hoor, de katjes hadden het door, er zit een "luchtje" aan dat boek.
Beetje ouderwets hoor, zwart-wit tekeningen, wij willen kleurenfoto's natuurlijk!
Nepeta, Catmint, nou, hier kunnen we het zo wel noemen want de katjes hebben niet zoveel met kattekruid, soms willen ze er een blaadje van eten als ik er eentje tussen mijn vingers wrijf en de lucht sterker vrijkomt, maar ze worden er verder niet heet of koud van, raar stelletje hè!

No Rain said...

850 pages seems daunting. I suppose it would work as a general gardening reference, to use when you need to know something specific.
Love the photos of the cats enjoying catnip. They are definitely in ecstasy!

marl1 said...

Mooie, dikke pil om te lezen in de winter...;-) En 'how to buy plants'...weet ik allang!

KC MO Garden Guy said...

Hey Yolanda sorry I haven't been by your blog lately. I have no real reason just not motivated to write or take pictues. But I am coming around and feeling better since spring is starting to show up.
Love the review of the book. I agree with you about the pictures. I would rather have the colored ones but I am sure the drawn ones are cheaper to print than the colored one. So we can spend the money we save to buy more plants. Win Win? Not sure.

Chookie said...

Yolanda, make sure your cats compare that catmint sketch very carefully with their catnip outside. I have a feeling they are different names for the same plant. Nepeta species?

Anonymous said...

Excellent review, Yolanda! I can see why one would want a hard cover, especially if one's cats are to review as well! And I quite agree with you in regards to photos versus drawings. Multiple photos would be even better, esp of bugs in their various stages (i.e., from young and ravenous to mature and merely hungry).

Libbys Blog said...

Looks like you should have got a couple of copies, so they could all have there own!!!
I agree totally with you on coloured pictures, fare better!
Great topic!!!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all and welcome to bookish Bliss!

* Lisa: thanks, your words are greatly appreciated!

* Robin: the drawings in the book are good but, like you, I prefer pictures.

* Rachel: they are of a good quality no doubt about that, but drawings have their limitations in getting the message across. I think it would have helped if they had been colour instead of black and white.

*MyfriendBen: thanks, glad you enjoyed it so much!

* Brimstone: dit boek is zeker de moeite waard; het bevat een schat aan info.

* WWW: LOL, cats will be cats!

* Lenie: we zijn het eens foto's zijn beter! Ik mail je binnenkort even!

* Kate: I'm not surprised, it really is a good gardening book.

* Anja: graag gedaan hoor en heel erg bedankt voor je tribute. Het is zo leuk om zulke complimenten over je blog te ontvangen.

* Cheryl: we are in complete agreement, I never harm anything if I can avoid it either. There are so many insects that are the gardeners friend but unfortunately not every gardener knows that. That's why I'm so happy with this book as Barbara explains that fact too.

* Marian: ja, hihi, kleurenfoto's moeten het zijn. We zijn verwend door al die full colour blogs, denk je ook niet? ;-) De ene nepeta is de andere niet. Mijn katten gaan uit hun dak van Nepeta cataria, het wilde kattenkruid. Ik heb in mijn tuin ook gecultiveerde soorten Nepeta staan en van sommige gaan ze ook uit hun dak en van andere (bv Nepeta X Faassenii Six Hills Giant)helemaal niet. Ik zou zeggen probeer eens uit welke Nepeta jouw katjes wel iets doet.

* Aiyana: it is a wonderful book to have for gardening referencing although it is nice to read it chapter by chapter too as the writer has such a nice style of writing.
I love it when they roll in catnip; I like to see them happy.

* Marl1: het is inderdaad een dikke pil maar zeer de moeite waard. Hehe, ik dacht al, komt daar geen commentaar op en ja hoor!;-) In dit hoofdstuk worden o.a. de botanische namen uitgelegd zodat je niet een kerstroos (helleborus) bestelt als je een echte roos (Rosa ....) wil hebben. Ervaren tuiniers zoals jij kunnen in dit boek hele hoofdstukken overslaan. ;-)

* Cliff: that's OK, you are free to visit or not, just as the mood strikes you. I know you suffer from winter blues and I'm glad that you are perking up now.
I think the book wouldn't have been all that much more expensive if they had used full colour pics instead of black and white drawings. For me it was a real let down in a book that is otherwise of such high quality.

* Chookie: catnip = Nepeta cataria is the real thing, it's a herb that drives kitties crazy. With the Nepeta cultivars it's a kinda hit or miss thing. Some Nepeta cultivars the cats love, others not at all.
BTW in answer to a question you asked earlier: the Bliss kitties do not catch birds as they are all indoor cats only. They are allowed in the garden only when I am there; for their own safety, for the safety of birds and other creatures and because I don't want them to be a pest to other gardeners.

* Nikkipolani: hardcover would be best as this is a book to return to again and again and you don't want it to fall apart after only using it once or twice.

* Libby: excellent idea, next time I will ask for more copies. Do you think they would understand if I explained that I want one for each of my cats or would they think me completely bonkers? LOL

Thanks all for visiting and leaving comments, it was fun!

Anonymous said...

een goede recensie

maar is dit een herziene uitgave want dit is ook al uitgekomen in 1994

ladyluz said...

Great entertaining review, Yolanda and it's given me an idea for a present for my niece, who's just started her vegetable allotment in UK.

Those cats take the biscuit, don't they!

Elke said...

A very good team, I think :-)
And your cats are so cute!

Curtis said...

Looks like a great book to settle down with and browse then read its pages. Most importantly the cats gave thier two paws up.

Hillside Garden said...

Du hast aber garteninteressierte Katzen! Und das Wort Eyecandy hab ich noch nie gehört - für heute ist es mein Wort des Tages!