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review 2018-02-27 02:02
The Virago Book Of Women Gardeners
The Virago Book Of Women Gardeners - Deborah Kellaway

This started out as a 5 star read for me, but as with any anthology, some of the writing bogged me down, made my eyes glaze, and skimming was taking place.  Especially those excepts that ran more like garden inventories; I loved reading about new plants, but there are only so many latin botanical names one can read in a row before it all starts looking like Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet...


Most of it was great though, if you're a gardener.  It's a collection of excerpts, essays, diary entries, even a little poetry here and there, written by women known for their mad gardening skills and wickedly green thumbs throughout history.  It's all non-fiction, and the book bursts with suggestions for plants; mostly oriented to the UK, with a little USA thrown in.  I did a LOT of googling while I read, and most of the plants that caught my eye are available in some form or another here in Australia, the country with draconian import laws, so despite the bias in the book, there should be something for every gardener here.


Also, the cover is gorgeous.

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review 2018-01-27 10:07
The Bee Friendly Garden: Easy Ways to Help the Bees and Make Your Garden Grow
The Bee Friendly Garden: Easy Ways to Help the Bees and Make Your Garden Grow - Doug Purdie

I think I mentioned in a post just after Christmas that MT got me bees for Christmas.  An old schoolmate of his runs a beehive management business, and either Tuesday or Wednesday next week, after dark, he's delivering our hives to us.  MT has decreed that all the bees will be named Barry.  I've pointed out that all the worker bees are female, which temporarily stumped him.  I'm sure by the time I finish this review he'll have rallied.  Stay tuned.


Anyway, my garden is pretty close to jungle status as is, but I'm always looking for excuses to plant new things, and our bees need to feel welcomed.  But I know not all flowers are bee friendly (size, shape, and whether or not they make pollen/nectar), so I wanted a list of particular plants the bees would love.  Our bee guy recommended this book, and MT bought it for me for my birthday, and I guilted him into giving it to me a day early, because he also gave me this cold.


The Bee guy did not steer me wrong.  This is a great book for anyone who just wants to attract more bees to their garden.  It's a tiny bit preachy - he's (rightfully) passionate about NOT spraying your garden - but there's a lot of compelling reason to preach it.  Without bees we can kiss about 80% of our food goodbye and bees are in serious decline world wide.  


The Bee Friendly Garden is strongly geared toward Australia, primarily in the chapters where he discusses native bees (some of which are SO cool), but more than half the book would be useful to anyone, as a lot of the suggestions are geared toward the European honey bee and the plant lists are almost universal in their availability.


I now have a list of plants to look for at the nursery.  Now I just have to find a place to put them.  


Update:  MT has named all the bees Betty.

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review 2018-01-26 10:41
Nature's Ways: lore, legend, fact and fiction
Nature's Ways: Lore, Legend, Fact and Fiction - Ruth Binney

MT caught a cold and shared it with me, so I'm short on attention span and long on grumpiness at the moment (and on a 3 day weekend too!, she wails), so I'm clearing out the books from my TBR that are 'easy'; bite sized chunks of fact rather than narratives that require more than 2 consecutive minutes of concentration.


Nature's Way is just such a book.  1 page of small nuggets, each relating to an animal, plant, health, superstition, etc.  Each one covers more myth, legend and lore than fact, but they're interesting, even if not likely to be useful even on the odd Trivial Pursuit game night.


Easy to flick through, put down, and pick up, it's perfect for those times when you're brain is too busy mustering up an immune response to focus on anything ... else.

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review 2018-01-17 10:02
The Plant Hunters: The Adventures of the World's Greatest Botanical Explorers
The Plant Hunters: The Adventures of the World's Greatest Botanical Explorers - Carolyn Fry

First - this is a gorgeous book.  Generously and fabulously illustrated, at least half the pages are eye candy.


Second - it's really well researched, although it does lack a citation / notes section at the end, an unfortunate oversight.


Also unfortunate is the writing.  It's dry.  So, so dry.  Think academic history text dry.  If I had to guess, I'd say it's a case of severe editing; trying to pack huge chunks of history into small 1-2 page sections.  The result is a litany of names and dates guaranteed to make the most interested eyes droop.   


Luckily, the illustrations go a long way towards perking up a reader's attention.

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review 2014-12-31 03:11
Small Space Organics: Creating sustainable, edible gardens
Small Space Organics - Josh Byrne

A very comprehensive (very) overview of creating a sustainable, edible garden that strives to be carbon and water usage neutral.  Lots of great information here that would apply to any gardener anywhere (finally, I found easy-to-understand pruning information) although the charts for growing times and harvest times would be useless to anyone not living in the Southern Hemisphere.


My only complaint is that while the book had lots of great full-colour photographs, it didn't have any of the completed project as a whole.  I really wanted to see the big picture - including the outdoor bathroom!


Will be handy reference as I continue to experiment.

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