gardens by daisy moore

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Choosing a Good

Gardening Book


In the summer, I enjoy sitting in a shady spot in the garden with a pile of my favourite gardening books. It is an ideal time to re-assess the successes and failures of the garden and begin plans for fall planting.

You can never have enough gardening books. I recently took great pleasure in purchasing a shelving unit exclusively for my ever expanding collection. It gives me a tremendous feeling of power having all that knowledge packed on the shelves.

When looking for facts, I find the most valuable books are those which are specific to one topic. Some of the paper back "How To" books are often all you need for specific tips. When I am researching a topic, I dip in to several books just to get the opinion of other gardeners. There is no hard and fast rule on exactly how to do anything and by reading what others have to say, you may discover how they overcome similar problems.

The two main things I look for when choosing a gardening book are the author and where the book was written. There are some notable authorities on certain topics and there are those who we simply love to read. Being a good writer as well as a good gardener are not necessarily the same thing.

Gertrude Jekyll has to be one of the best writers about gardening. She beautifully expressed exactly how she saw it and why. Even though she gardened and wrote in the early 1900's, her opinions still ring true. We don't look to her for what to do when the tomatoes are wilting but for a general philosophy and inspiration about gardening. She is a must for the summer read.

Other more recent favourites include Ann Lovejoy and Des Kennedy, both from the west coast, and Lorraine Johnson from Ontario. They are a good read and re-reinforce my own ideas about gardening.

My botanical bible is Michael Dirr's "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants". This book describes the growth, habitat, common pests and origin of every woody plant available to the gardener. Knowing the plants' preferred habitat and origin gives you valuable clues as to whether the plant is suitable for your needs.

When you find a book which suits your style, check out the reference section in the back and find out who inspired the author and where they got their own facts. You will soon develop your own list of favourite writers.

Where the book was written is an important consideration when you do not know the author. It is of very little use to an Ontario gardener to purchase a gardening book from the southern United States. One of my very favourite reference books is from Calcium New York and was written in the 1930's. It is a monthly journal and goes through a monthly task list for the garden. For timely tips, this is always the first book I turn to.

A good gardening book will never be out of date. The growth requirements of plants have not changed so tips from 80 years ago are as valid today as they were then. What is different today is the availability of synthetic pesticides, more varieties of plants, and more garden accessories.

Photographs are another good reason to buy a gardening book. When looking for ideas, there is nothing better than to leaf again and again through pictures of gardens and plant combinations. Gardening magazines are excellent for this reason.

When looking for information, check out the local library. The Civic Garden Centre in Toronto has an excellent gardening reference library. It is located at the SW corner of Lawrence Ave. and Leslie St. I find it is worth the trip to surround myself with their large collection. I usually find myself off on some extraordinary tangent and spend three times more time than I expected, but I leave much the wiser. Speaking to the volunteers who work there is a gardening education in itself.

Daisy Moore, 1998.




Other summer garden tips:

(click on the tip you want to read)


Extreme Conditions
Growing Roses
Summer Lawn Care
Propogation by Cuttings
Sources of Native Plants
Making Sense of Fertilizer Labels
Annual/Perennial Combinations
Climbing Plants
The Dry Garden
Ornamental Grasses
Chooosing A Good Gardening Book
Companion Planting
Preparing the Compost for Fall Use
Getting the Most out of your Vegetable Garden
Repairing Lawns From Summer Stress
All About Grubs
All About Onions
Useful Herbs for the Home Garden
Screens and Hedges




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Daisy Moore 2005