I was lucky enough to be the first winner in The Garden Monkey's (GM) Big Bash Books a couple of weeks ago and bagged this one as my prize of choice. It caused quite a stir on its publication at the back end of last year and has been on my 'To Read List' ever since.
It sets out to redefine the RHS' best practice and its author Matthew Wilson, has been at the forefront of shaping this during his time as Harlow Carr's Curator. He looks at how we can garden in harmony with nature whilst reducing our impact on the environment. You may think he's preaching to the converted, but believe me there's plenty of gardeners out there who don't have this enlightened way of thinking if Chippenham's anything to go by. Sustainable it ain't.
The book starts with a look at climate and the soil, a refreshing starting point - these vital elements are often overlooked; then the themes of sustainability, wildlife gardening, and gardening in a drier climate are tackled. Trees, shade and container planting are looked at alongside planting styles, design and planting partners. Each chapter is broken down into a series of sumptuously photographed double page spreads, making it a highly 'dippable' book as well as one to read from cover to cover. This dippability was thoroughly put to the test by my blogging buddy Threadspider plus my SUP group recently - the book and several of the projects are now on various 'To Read/Do Lists', including the log pile seat on mine and the rather nattily wood clad shed on another.
GM asked me a couple of weeks ago how I was enjoying the book. My initial reaction back then was it's a brave book for the stuffy old RHS to tackle. Having thought about it further (and finished the book), I believe it's exactly the kind of publication they should be doing. After all, their other books and website are often my first ports of call when I want to find out something. That's also why I use their website as a good source of links for my posts. Perhaps they're not so stuffy after all!
It's not a perfect book - there's concrete alongside rammed-earth raised beds and the planting lists aren't that extensive. However, I believe this makes the book much more approachable for anyone wanting to start to garden in this way who also needs a helping hand to begin. It covers a wide range of topics so I'm also sure there's something in there for all of us.
It's the final week of GM's Big Bash Books - you have a day to get over there and tell him what's your favourite plant and why.
Oh, and it seems to be the day for book reviews today - Bean Sprouts reviews Compost and The Big Sofa looks at Worms Eat My Garbage.