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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.

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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garden design bible [book]

tim newbury garden design book

bible... ?

I bought this book last year… and to be very honest…. it has sat on the shelf for most of that time. No offence Tim Newbury. Sincerely. That said, it only cost €17.55 [only?!!] in hughes and hughes and I suppose that should [again, sincerely] be taken into consideration.

But I’m still puzzled on this one. For me the only horticultural bible I know of is the RHS encyclopedia of plants and with that in mind, the truth is… this is far from ‘a bible’.

It is a good book possibly, for my Mom or one of my four sisters [who would not be gardeners of any format by the way]. It is I might propose a good guide when considering ideas for your garden…. a kind of  a ‘I was thinking of something along those lines…’ kind of a guide….?

But, you may be disappointed, if you were looking for lots of pictures. In its favour, the illustrations and the explanations are good – but then against that…. there are only ’40 great off the peg designs’ to chose from.

A good gift, a decent book [and a very useful one too for the novice, maybe…],  but not the greatest investment I personally have ever made.

PS: Dear Mr Hughes and Mr Hughes,

I did email you some weeks ago… but to no response. you might consider an educated and experienced horticulturalist to review your books before they hit the shelves…

my rating: 2/5

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Gardening Nude – a book review

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This is a really unusual story…. in a sense. I’d had this idea for a book. A garden book….. I still do, anyhow… the book idea aside, it was to be something a little, not Royal Horticultural Society, all pot pourri kind of smoking jacket – esque etc… you get my drift.

Via my good mate Pat Fitzgerald I get an introduction to a lady called Shawna Coronado. Who’s written a book called gardening nude.

I got talking to Shawna. She sent me a copy. Signed. I read it. I wanted to review it but…. I felt, at the time, as I kinda knew Shawna, that it would be unfair [to you] to review someones book who I knew – where normally I buy the books myself and then [openly] review them.

[Mainly because people don’t send me stuff to review. Mainly because not a lot of people in horticulture ‘get’ green blogging. Which surprsises me cosidering their books are sold online…..]

So I gave the book to my Sis-in-law. She reviewed it. Emailed it to me. And then, in short, I wiped my entire computer…. and now I can’t get the book back…. which is a nice compliment, for Shawna.

So I called Shawna and said I do the review anyway. 😉

sidewalk-view-2009-3

one of Shawna's side walks

Being honest…. really honest? When I first read the title…. well, you know yourself 😆

But whilst it may sound childlike to have that as a first image…. it was that childlke hat that I was glad to be wearing when I read the book.

Gardening Nude is a book that I would buy for any person who has never gardened before. Or has. It is gardening – but it is also, or moreso a  journey through someones life, who gardens. Does that make sense…?

It’s a gardeners story. It’s not all botanical names and bullshit you need a thesaurus to get through… it’s real life. I found it heart warming that a little strip of land [what we may all a verge] was landscaped for passers by to take time out, to sit down [bench included] and relax [this is just one of many pictures]. I found it more heart warming when this turned into a community garden… the list literally goes on as far as Shawna is concerned.

The difference here though is, like my neighbour asking me, [is in my opinion] is the hanging basket she just made up ok… ? The answer is, did it make her smile creating what for her, isn’t something that is done everyday[?]…. always a yes! It’s not Chelsea Flower Show all the time; and in that context – it’s perfect 🙂 To analagise that back to this book. I cannot be critical. In any way. Horticulturally. And with that in mind, I loved every second of it.

It was a mild escape from the often botanical [nonsense] system I live and love…. but sometimes helping your neighbour make something pretty for the front of their house is much more fun 😉

I emailed Shawna and asked her for a little insight into the why’s, who’s and why again. Here’s what I got….

1.] is this your first book. will it be your last

Never my last! GN was a great experience and I adore writing; I produce nearly 4,000 words per week for the several blogs and newspaper columns I write, so I look forward to many, many more years of writing and certainly many more books.

2.] its not gardening…. but it is gardening…. explain yourself! [smiles]

One day several years ago I walked out behind my property line and built a small garden for the public on a city easement area next to a public walking path. I was rewarded with the most unimaginable love from my community; people stop to say hello, give me hugs, and leave me gifts. All because of this little garden. Soon I expanded the garden because of all this love and encouragement onto my neighbor’s easement property, and within two years, the garden became over 200 feet long and my link to the heart of the community. After I built the site, it became apparent that I was touching the community on an emotional level. I was stripping away the excuses and pretty much putting myself out there in a way that was personal – saying I was “nude” is purely metaphorical, but it’s a great way to express the openness I experienced.

The book, “Gardening Nude” is not about gardening (or being nude) so much as it’s about the journey of getting healthier physically and emotionally. It is about being involved with the community and making a difference for the world in a big way. When I stepped outside that fence and built that garden – after already building hundreds of feet of garden INSIDE the fence – I suddenly realized that my improved health was not just from being outdoors and gardening. It happened because I was able to reach out and lovingly share time with the community. For me it represented a miracle cure and upon realizing the importance of helping others; a huge life change.

3] would you consider yourself famous now….?

No. Although it has been one rather interesting experience to be published and have “fans” sending emails and asking questions. It is an adventure.

4] what do most say they get from your book…?

Most people say they are inspired. It makes them feel as if they are not the only one’s struggling with defining better health and trying to live simpler and greener. In the end, I want people to feel as if they can make a difference themselves – every day, one step at a time.

5] what did you think people would get from it, at first… ?

When you first see and leaf through the book, it is a guide to living healthier and greener, and building community. Easy steps are listed. But once you read the book from cover to cover, you see it is a motivating and inspiring guide which speaks to the human need to be help each other get through life.

6] what where your thoughts when you first sat down with the pen/ typewriter/ computer?

I’d already been writing a newspaper column for several years when I first sat down to write GN. I thought I was an experienced writer and that creating an inspirational book would be easy – a snap. My first idiotic thoughts, “This is gonna be easy!”

Within two weeks I was bashing my head against the computer keys realizing my stupidity. To be a good author on green lifestyle living, the author needs to be more than experienced at living the lifestyle, the book also needs to be well-researched and documented. This research took nearly three months of hard work, followed by seven months of straight blood-sweat-and-tears writing, and of course, several additional months of editing and styling.

7] are you of irish decent ?

I am of Irish/German decent and have the blue eyes and freckles to prove that fact. J I have dreamed for many years of coming to visit Ireland. This summer I toured the U.S. keynote speaking –  I love it as much as writing – and am hoping to expand and travel internationally over the next several years. Maybe I’ll get lucky and have someone bring me in for a keynote tour? Celtic music is beautiful to me and my current favorite Celtic song by a traditional group is The Chieftain’s version of “North Amerikay”. Love it!

8] do you drink guinness…?

Sadly I am allergic to beer. No kidding. However, I do like whiskey. ::grin::

9] sum your own book up in less than 4 words…?

Gardening Nude is inspirational!

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1001 gardens you must see before you die

apart from the title... ?

apart from the title... ?

The only thing I didn’t like about this book is the title. A little depressing to be honest. Why it needed Titschmarsh to do the preface i’ll never know [no offence 😉 ]. Why they didn’t just change the title to 1001 garden to make you smile and just leave it at that… ?

That said said this is a great reference book. I have used it many times from The Monte Palace Tropical Gardens in Madeira to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in South Africa and I absolutely love it.

A must have for any garden library. Pretty simple to use. If you do get away, even in Ireland, just have a leaf through and you are guaraneed to find a garden worth visiting near you.