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