5 New Gardening Books from my Local Library

fingal library

I got an email in from Siobhan Walshe of Fingal Libraries PR Dept letting me know of some great new gardening books that will be coming to the shelves of Fingal’s Libraries quite soon.

Siobhan notes:

Here’s a list of some new and interesting books that will be in the branches in the next couple of weeks:-

  1. Your wildlife garden month by month – Jackie Bennett
  2. Your herb garden month by month – Barbara Segall
  3. Incredible Edibles: 43 fun things to grow in the city – Sonia Day
  4. The Edible Balcony: Growing fresh produce in the heart of the city – Alex Mitchell
  5. River Cottage handbook No 9 – Fruit – Mark Diacono (there’s recipes in this book too).

They are all well illustrated and none seem too complicated though No 5 is quite detailed.

Siobhan also notes

I found one new book on camping –

  • The art of Camping: the history and practice of sleeping under the stars – Matthew De Abaitua

I have to give Siobhan credit and I simply love the added camping book…. someone is paying attention to my blog 😉 On a serious note, having learnt from my mistakes – I now buy my gardening books like I add to my vinyl collection. Far too much clap trap out there and I like my books to be investments and archivable reference books for the future.

Also the staff of Fingal libraries are very intelligent people and they don’t choose books with any sort of willy nilly approach. Watch this space…. or just watch Fingal Libraries.

Fingal’s Most Popular Library Gardening Books

With thanks to Siobhan Walshe and the team at Fingal Libraries, the following are Fingal Libraries most popular gardening books. The list was compiled for use in The Sodshow July 15th 2011 for which you will find the audio below. That aside, the selections may just surpeise you slightly.

Most popular adult gardening books:

  1. The Irish gardener’s handbook, how to grow vegetables, herbs, fruit – Michael Brennock
  2. How to be a gardener – Alan Titchmarsh
  3. Joe’s Allotment: Planning and planting a productive plot – Joe Swift
  4. Grow your own groceries: how to feed your family – Linda Gray
  5. How to grow your own food, a week by week guide to wild life, friendly food and vegetable gardening – Dirty Nails

Most popular children’s gardening books:

  1. Grow it, eat it – Dorling Kindersley publication
  2. Growing Things – Ting Morris – sticky fingers series
  3. Kids in the garden, growing plants for food and fun – Elizabeth McCorquodale
  4. Green fingers and muddy boots, a year in the garden for children and families – Ivor Santer
  5. Grow your own strawberries – Helen Lanz
  6. Grow your own tomatoes – Helen Lanz

The SodShow – July 15 2011 – Dublin’s Garden Radio (mp3)

This week, as a by the way and coincidentally, book of the week was Jane Powers book, A place that works with nature.

The Tribesman – Gardeners Need To Talk More

peter donegan

[pic: courtesy Jennifer Farley]

As weather suitable for gardening in any format goes, last year has to be the worst on record and I think it’s fair to say that, although not by choice, a lot of gardeners had a little extra spare time on their hands.

Not content with sitting on my laurels [be dum. See what I did there…?] I started to think a little outside of the box. To be fair I had started to think outside the box sometime ago.

Delving a little into the past so as to give some context as to where I’m heading with this, I did write for The Irish Farmers Journal for a number of years. I wrote for a number of others freelance as well but without rewriting a curriculum vitae that you may wish to borrow so you can beat me with it, The IFJ was my probably my longest stay as a regular garden correspondent.

The Gardener is off on one again Mary….

Some time after I left there, I started writing my garden blog. Four years old this august, it’s made up of around two hundred of my own video’s, approximately 4,500 images and over 300 segments of audio all posted within almost 900 articles. All done in my own spare time, all written by yours truly and all on the subject matter of the great outdoors and gardening.

I’ve always had a theory that if every person in this little country of ours planted one tree today. Wouldn’t Ireland be so beautiful tomorrow.

Yeah, yeah. I’m getting there…

When last years snow kicked in all complete with a Sky News media team trying to interview a single hail stone on the edge of some motorway in Scotland, I queried where could or would a garden story ever fit in.

Well it wasn’t really the weather for gardening Pete….

Being green during weather so inclement may not be perceived as being so cool. But we who have a space  to garden shouldn’t and can’t simply pull the curtains. In the great big garden calender it doesn’t work that way.

Over a year ago Bernie Goldbach, a lecturer in social media at Tipperary Institute suggested I try podcasting. What started as talking into the tail end of my telephone over a year ago handing out various tit-bits of garden advice for five minutes  has since been branded and logo’d and has morphed slowly over that time while demand, interest and listener numbers growing.

On March 11th 2011 Dublins only garden radio show, The SodShow was borne. Hosted by Peter Donegan [that’s me] and Brian Greene, it airs live on Dublin City Fm every Friday at 3pm. The radio show is also now the podcast, which more often, surprising maybe, out shines similar shows produced by the BBC and others.

The Donegan fella is blathering away telling us how great he is again. Betcha he’s playing that Carly Simon song whilst he looks at a picture of himself….

But there’s a bigger picture here. One where we all benefit. Remember the tree dream I spoke about earlier [paragraph five] ? Remember my spiel about the snow [paragraph 1] ?

Well here’s my thinking, what if there was one more garden blog, or lots. More garden audio and video’s online. Irish ones. One from Galway even. More garden groups [see The Tribesman June 2nd 2011] What if all of a sudden everyone started talking, to the world and the wide web about their great outdoors. Wouldn’t it be brilliant for Irish gardening ?

The Jackeen may actually be making some sense….

You see there are two winners in this. Everyone. And I don’t just mean the businesses.

It’s about the gardener in Galway who has a mild dilemma with his potatoes for example. It’s about that great park you brought your family to, the time you went camping by Lough Ennell or very simple the day your daughter smiled when you grew your first pumpkin. It’s about others going there because of what you said. It may even be the man in Germany who comes to Ireland [or Galway] and stays in that campsite because of what you said.

Sometimes I think we Irish are the greatest yappaholics in the world. And we may well be. But there’s just not enough official gardening yapping going on, on the record that is. That I know there are six regular garden radio slots, not shows, in this country.

There’s a time when things must happen in gardening. There’s a time when trees sleep. There are those who know that sub zero temperatures are actually good for gardening. There’s a time as individuals we weep on a plants passing. There are things that I could have done even during the snow to make my home prettier, using plants, if even just to save some.

It may be Flirt FM or Galway Bay fm. It may just be you talking into your phone, writing a blog post or writing for the local newspaper. It may only just create a conversation that is deemed downright controversial. And when was the last time that happened in the gardening world of this green isle ?

Either or one things for sure, those who like, love and or even dislike the great outdoors, gardeners need to talk, more.

Find The SodShow in iTunes/ on the blog/ or listen live online – Fridays 3pm 103.2 Dublin City Fm.

Contact Peter Donegan

Jane Powers – The Living Garden

Listen!

Listen to the original audio as it aired on The Sodshow April 1st 103.2 Dublin City Fm

And to my review of Jane’s book….

Before I begin my review of The Living Garden, I must admit that I know Jane Powers. Who doesn’t, this is after all Ireland you say and Jane has been writing gardens for The Irish Times since ’97.

As to my knowing her better, Jane is a regular guest and contributor on the SodShow, the garden radio programme I present.

It has been a long time since I reviewed any garden books. Like ’80’s music I got quite bored. A bit of the same old same old, you might say. But this review is not the place for more detail on that, although, it does pose relevance to the reason I like this book, a lot.

The first thing I noticed throughout Jane’s writing is that she refers constantly as I, the singular, her, the individual – the gardener of her own garden. And it is from there that I get a better insight into what, how and why Jane gardens as she does. I can disagree with her as I read. Or agree. With her. I have done both before and will most likely do again. My point is that this is not a cook book. It is not a series of menu’s. And neither is gardening. This is Janes way of gardening as she does it, for real and it is written and explained in that manner.

On a slight side note, I was in touch with Jane Publishers looking for some images, Fabio emailed back asking me to ensure that: author and publisher are clearly stated. I replied asking for some info on the photographer [?] so as to give credit to. I got this note:

All the photographs I sent through were in fact taken by Jane Powers herself, and are © Jane Powers 2011. Let me know if you need any further info.

Now we’re on the same wavelength. You see I know Janes garden. I also know after 4 years writing this blog you can’t set up nature for a great photo shoot. Sometimes you were just there. And Jane as versus any other photographer was. Greater than that, it backs up what is in text format.

I love the oddball yet relevant and logic elements of the book. Jane’s plea to save the clothes line, a note on avoiding the Leyland Cypress, a crash course in thinking about vegetables. There’s a title called things that slither in the night – slugs and the like – it comes with a sub plot called strategies. It speaks logically about hens, about them getting on in life and gets you, to think for yourself, before, during and whilst you garden. It doesn’t assume I and you have a degree in horticulture.

Not to sound so grand, but I have studied horticulture. I have plant dictionaries, albeit very useful to me they are the worlds most boring books.

Similarly, I have always analogised explaining gardening with being thought poetry in school. One can tell me what the poet is thinking, the theory and theme of the poem. Or one can read me poetry, allow me to enjoy or not the tune being read and allow me to think for myself. Rather than being able to recite, I want to first understand. We may all be gardeners. But we will never know it all.

Potential or expert, Balcony or Estate, The Living Garden – is – a bible for those who may wish to begin gardening and a problem solving, idea generating, creative mind stirring directory for those who have a garden. More than that it is a genius piece of reading for those who, like me, enjoy gardening.

Nice one Jane. I enjoyed that 😉

Here’s the opening paragraph from the press release. In this I refer you to its closing line:

In The Living Garden Jane Powers writes entertainingly and expertly on how we can manage our plots – big or small – in a way that is both welcoming to wildlife and good for the rest of the planet. By cutting out harmful chemicals and using the right plants for our climate and conditions, we can make a garden that has a life of its own, in which flora and fauna are intricately interwoven.  Jane describes, in her lyrical but commonsense writing, how to plan and plant for birds, bees and other creatures (including humans); and how to grow our own food, look after our soil, make compost and plant potions, sow and save seeds, propagate plants and carry out other essential tasks.  She is in favour of sustainable, eco-friendly methods, but is realistic about her limitations.

The book is priced at £25. I don’t know what that is in Ireland/ euros. And is all good book stores now.

Janes confirmed book signings are as follows

  • Newbridge Silverware, Newbridge, Co Kildare: 3pm, Friday April 1st.
  • Brown Thomas, Grafton Street, Dublin 2: 2pm, Saturday April 16th 2011
  • Launch of the West Cork Garden Trail, Glebe Gardens, Baltimore, West Cork: time and date (June) to be confirmed

Also worth a read is Jane’s blog – one bean row

You may also enjoy this interview I did with Jane from 2010:
Listen!

Irish Gardening Books and Shops

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As one can gather… I have quite a vast and varied gardening book collection. But recently I have found it quite extremely difficult to buy anything that could be considered original. Even more difficult than that is to find anything at all original and Irish.

I did email hughes and hughes. I also emailed easons. For those outside of Ireland they are probably Irelands biggest retailers of books. I queried who selected the books for the gardening section…. it was some time ago now but I got no answer.

Once again, I was in Waterstones [not the most Irish] book shop on Dawson Street. Yes folks, when I’m not scouring the aisles looking for nouveau paraphernalia I am looking for new reading material. 😉 Waterstones deserve massive applause. They don’t know me. I don’t know them…. but we have more books in common than other book shop in Ireland.

A lot of them are specialist, or coffee table style books – but a higher than others percentage are Irish, written and referenced.

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There are two main issues. Or two things I look for when choosing a book. The first is, is the book of any use or is it just a rehash of something that has already existed. Most recently, you will find that has appeared in the ‘organic’ or ‘grow your own’ department. Formerly it was simply called growing fruit and vegetables. But en vogue labelling obviously sells.

The second issue, after I narrow it down to a book I like is, as I can gather, is that most books are published for the UK market. That’s absolutely fine. But when it comes to the reference bit at the back… they are all UK companies. If for example it is to do with recycling…. it makes the book of very little use.

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I know there are great books out there. I know there are great independent book stores out there. I am not all wishing to knock here. I am I suppose hoping it may [at the very least] improve the quality of what is for sale on the market at this moment in time. To those who don’t have grandiose garden book collections… it’s very akin, to analogise, to only being able to buy Stock, Aitken and Waterman music.

Whilst I am on the subject, there are always those a little more amazing and unique at their job…. If you do know one of them… go ahead and give them a mention.

If this post makes a difference, a publishing house wishes for me to review their garden books… a book shop wishes to put their message out in response to this – I am more than happy to do so. From this maybe we will all gain…. All you have to do is contact me.

Below is Waterstones gardening section….

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