Just before Christmas I had the good fortune to win this book courtesy of the lovely Zoe and her fundraising advent blog. She's raised over £441 pounds so far for Macmillan Cancer Support - how about helping to make it a round £450 or even £500 by visiting her fundraising page? If you're not aware of Zoe's story, you might like to have a look at her Journey blog first.
When I found out I'd won, I promised to review the book as soon as I'd read it - here goes.
Val Bourne is a well known garden writer and organic gardener who writes regularly in a number of our newspapers and gardening magazines. This is the first book I've read by her and it won't be the last. Although Clive Nichols is credited with Special Photography on the front cover, most of the sumptuous photographs are Val's, mainly taken in her own garden. They're so vibrant and colourful, thus making a fantastic advertisement for organic gardening before I'd even started to read the text.
Val's road to natural gardening as she calls it was shaped by her early career at the National Vegetable Research Station (NVRS) where she worked on disease transfer by aphids. She quickly noticed the best way to get her next population of aphids was to spray the greenhouse with systemic insecticide. From there she became hooked on growing cottage garden flowers and gradually began to notice her flourishing garden full of wildlife naturally kept the nasties at bay. This she calls her 'living jigsaw' - a way of gardening which encourages wildlife throughout the year by ensuring as plants fade away once their season is over, others are poised to take over and provide nourishment.
Whilst Val doesn't profess to be a scientist, she is observant, has an eye for detail and can explain complex matters in layman's terms. These gifts she brings to bear on gently persuading us that natural gardening is the way forward. Her own Cotswold plot is relatively modest in size and has been created on a shoestring, thus her style of gardening is within the reach of most of us.
Like many gardening books it's divided into the seasons and is like taking a garden tour to see what's looking at its best throughout the year. Even in winter there's lots to see and rich fragrances to sniff. Each sub chapter within the seasons ends with a look at a gardening friend or beastie, mainly from the insect world. There's plenty of information on how to keep the friends (even one of the slug family!) and the natural ways to fend off the foes.
This isn't a campaigning book, but is all the more powerful for not being strident. What better way is there to argue a case than by leading by example and showcasing the results from your own healthy, sumptuous garden?
Do visit the ABC Mr Linky website to find lots of other bonza posts on the theme of B.