Imbued with infectious personal passion as it shares expert information and plenty of practical guidance, Vicki Hird’s Rebugging the Planet is a brilliant book for bug-lovers of all ages and, given bugs’ vital importance to the upkeep and well-being of Planet Earth (let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge the fact that bees contribute more to the UK economy than the Queen), it deserves to be enjoyed and implemented far and wide - at home, and in classrooms too. In fact, this is perfect for reading and implementing during longer holidays from school, or over the course of a term, especially chapter four which presents an extensive range of how-to ideas for re-bugging your own patch of the world. But back to the beginning. The book sets out its inspirational stall in the opening chapters by explaining all the vital things bugs do for us, among them pollinating plants, feeding birds, feeding humans, defending our food crops, cleaning our water, controlling pests, and healing us. Maggots, for example, can remove (munch) and disinfect rotting flesh, leeches can stop clots, and the honey made by bees has anti-inflammatory properties. To play a role in the author’s re-bugging initiative, readers might find themselves inspired to build a bug palace, buy bug-friendly food from bug-buddy farmers, and much more. This is packed with plenty of ways to live a bug-better life, which in turn means living on a better planet. The LoveReading LitFest invited Vicki Hird to the festival to talk about Rebugging the Planet. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member.
'Every time he appears on the programme we feel that life is worth living. He has that power to lift your spirits.' - Jeremy Vine Terry Walton has kept an allotment in the Rhondda Valley in South Wales for over fifty years. He started when he was four, helping on his father's plot on the side of the mountain, cutting bracken and collecting sheep manure to feed the vegetables. He was farming his own plot at eleven and he went on to build an allotment empire, selling his vegetables and flowers to local customers. The proceeds paid for his first car, a canary yellow Ford Popular, when he was just seventeen. Then, in 2006, after half a decade of happy gardening, Terry's allotment was adopted by the Jeremy Vine Show and he became an unlikely media star. In this absorbing and entertaining memoir, Terry documents how the valley has changed over the years, his own conversion to organic gardening, and the colourful characters he meets; interspersing his anecdotes with topical tips, family recipes and quirky line drawings. My Life on a Hillside Allotment is the perfect read for gardeners, allotmenteers and anyone who loves the great outdoors.
Flowers, and the fruits that follow, feed, clothe, sustain, and inspire all humanity. They have done so since before recorded history. Flowers are used to celebrate all-important occasions, to express love, and are also the basis of global industries. Yet, we know little about flowers, their origins, bizarre sex lives, or how humans relate and depend upon them. Flowering plants continue to serve as inspiration in our myths and legends, in the fine and decorative arts, and in literary works of prose and poetry. Flowers seduce us-and animals, too-through their myriad shapes, colours, textures, and scents. And because of our extraordinary appetite for more unusual and beautiful super flowers, plant breeders have created such unnatural blooms as blue roses and black petunias to cater to the human world of haute couture fashion. In so doing, the nectar and pollen vital to the bees, butterflies, and bats of the world, are being reduced. Buchmann explains the unfortunate consequences, and explores how to counter them by growing the right flowers. Here, he integrates fascinating stories about the many colourful personalities who populate the world of flowers, and the flowers and pollinators themselves, with a research-based narrative that illuminates just why there is, indeed, a Reason for Flowers.
Christopher Lloyd (Christo) was one of the greatest English gardeners of the twentieth century, perhaps the finest plantsman of them all. His creation is the garden at Great Dixter in East Sussex, and it is a tribute to his vision and achievement that, after his death in 2006, the Heritage Lottery Fund made a grant of GBP4 million to help preserve it for the nation. This enjoyable and revealing book - the first biography of Christo - is also the story of Dixter from 1910 to 2006, a unique unbroken history of one English house and one English garden spanning a century. It was Christo's father, Nathaniel, who bought the medieval manor at Dixter and called in the fashionable Edwardian architect, Lutyens, to rebuild the house and lay out the garden. And it was his mother, Daisy, who made the first wild garden in the meadows there. Christo was born at Dixter in 1921. Apart from boarding school, war service and a period at horticultural college, he spent his whole life there, constantly re-planting and enriching the garden, while turning out landmark books and exhaustive journalism. Opinionated, argumentative and gloriously eccentric, he changed the face of English gardening through his passions for meadow gardening, dazzling colours and thorough husbandry. As the baby of a family of six - five boys and a girl - Christo was stifled by his adoring mother. Music-loving and sports-hating, he knew the Latin names of plants before he was eight. This fascinating book reveals what made Christo tick by examining his relationships with his generous but scheming mother, his like-minded friends (such as gardeners Anna Pavord and Beth Chatto) and his colleagues (including his head gardener, Fergus Garrett, a plantsman in Christo's own mould).
WATERSTONES NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH BOOKSELLER BOOK OF THE MONTH: 'It is beautifully, persuasively written - and what's more, it works.' 'Barnes describes the wonders of nature with an infectious enthusiasm' Guardian 'Such a good idea' Chris Packham 'Barnes, a passionate writer on wildlife...is an endearingly boisterous guide' Daily Mail We're not just losing the wild world. We're forgetting it. We're no longer noticing it. We've lost the habit of looking and seeing and listening and hearing. But we can make hidden things visible, and this book features 23 spellbinding ways to bring the magic of nature much closer to home. Mammals you never knew existed will enter your world. Birds hidden in treetops will shed their cloak of anonymity. With a single movement of your hand you can make reptiles appear before you. Butterflies you never saw before will bring joy to every sunny day. Creatures of the darkness will enter your consciousness. And as you take on new techniques and a little new equipment, you will discover new creatures and, with them, new areas of yourself that had gone dormant. Once put to use, they wake up and start working again. You become wilder in your mind and in your heart. Once you know the tricks, the wild world begins to appear before you. For anyone who wants to get closer to the nature all around them and bring it back into focus, this is the perfect read.
June 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. An inspiring book for both gardeners and cooks, which brings Italy to your table by growing your own produce. Simple gardening advice and delicious recipes. Whether you have a balcony, a patio, or space for a full kitchen garden, Sarah provides a wealth of easy-to-understand instructions and advice - tried and tested in her own garden. This is the perfect book for anyone who loves Italian food and would like to know how to grow it - even on a small scale.
A really good guide to allotment basics - from first picking up your spade to harvesting your crops. Written in an encouraging style – the novice won’t feel overwhelmed by technical detail and should find plenty of inspiration in the fruit and vegetables, herbs and flowers recommended for growing. I liked the information boxes recommending varieties and the “at a glance” section, the choice of illustrations and how easy it is to use. Would make a lovely gift for anyone starting out with an allotment. Like for Like Reading The Allotment Book, Andi ClevelyOne Man and His Dig: Adventures of an Allotment Novice, Valentine Low
Written by Rebecca Bevan (Gardens Researcher for the National Trust, RHS Horticultural Adviser, and BBC Gardeners' World Researcher) in a spirit of wise accessibility, The National Trust School of Gardening strikes a brilliant balance between being a beautiful book to take inspiration from, and an unintimidating practical guide to designing and maintaining your own garden, with hundreds of colour photographs and clear step-by-step, how-to diagrams. Though the book showcases some of the grandest National Trust estates, among them Sissinghurst Castle and Packward House, the advice shared can be applied to more modest private gardens. Indeed, Bevan also refers to some of the Trust’s smaller cottage gardens as she unearths guidance on everything from borders, roses, lawns and meadows, to shrubs and trees, topiary and hedges, fruit and veg. The breadth of tips is impressively exhaustive, including, for example, how to choose the best lawnmower and greenhouse to suit your needs, how to create low-maintenance small-scale displays, and an excellent chapter devoted to sustainable gardening practices. As its charming cover states, The National Trust School of Gardening is indeed a treasure chest of gardening advice and inspiration - a book to give as a gift to green-fingered friends (or yourself).
Beginning with the origins of gardens, this gloriously illustrated expedition through time and place begins in ancient Mesopotamia and explores the luscious gardens of the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians. From here we move to Ancient Greece and Rome, to the beginnings of botany and Roman topiary. The coverage of the gardens of Islam is especially gratifying with the authors’ description of them as being “among the most sublime in the world - soothing, refreshing and deeply spiritual” borne out by the accompanying photography and images of ancient art, tiles, textiles and scripts. Later we enter the complex formalised gardens of 17th century France, celebrated as expressions of “French rationalism”, and then comes an unearthing of the founding of Kew Gardens, before we discover the history and charms of gardens of the Americas, China and Japan. Written by gardening history doyenne Penelope Hobhouse and celebrated writer Ambra Edwards, this is a dazzlingly informative labour of love.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 15 April 2010. The seasons in Monty Don’s hands are equally blessed. Capturing15 years of creative gardening at his farmhouse home in Ivington (in Herefordshire), Monty makes milky winter-sun pruning just as pleasurable as the heady thrills of summer gardening. It is an everyday diary but each entry comes from different years within the span – so there’s a story of Weeds on 9 January 1999 followed by Moles on 10 January 2004. But it all reads seamlessly, as seasons do in memory. His writing, like his gardening, is rigorous, solid, honest, beautiful, whimsical. His happiest experiences include being in the garden with his wife Sarah, each on their own patch, simultaneously working out their dreams for the place.
This is not a book about French Gardens. It is the story of a man travelling round France visiting a few selected French gardens on the way. Owners, intrigues, affairs, marriages, feuds, thwarted ambitions and desires, the largely unnamed ordinary gardeners, wars, plots and natural disasters run through every garden older than a generation or two and fill every corner of the grander historical ones. Families marry. Gardeners are poached. Political allegiances forged and shattered. The human trail crosses from garden to garden. They sit in their surrounding landscape, not as isolated islands but attached umbilically to it, sharing the geology, the weather, food, climate, local folklore, accent and cultural identity. Wines must be drunk and food tasted. Recipes found and compared. The perfect tarte-tartin pursued. None of these things can be ignored or separated from the shape and size of parterre, fountain, herbaceous border or pottager. So this is a book filled with stories and information, some of it about French gardens and gardening, but most of it about what makes France unlike anywhere else. From historical gardens like Versailles,Vaux le Vicomte and Courances to the kitchen gardens of the Michelin chef Alain Passard. There are grand potagers like Villandry and La Prieure D'Orsan and allotments and back gardens spotted on the way. Monty celebrates the obvious French associations of food and wine and finds gardens dedicated to vegetables, herbs and fruit. It is a book that any visitor to France, whether gardeners or not, will want to read both as a guide and an inspiration. It is a portal to get under the French cultural skin and to understand the country, in all its huge variety and disparity, a little better.
A host of vividly caught characters are here: Mirabel's extrovert, free-spirited mother Phyllis; Aylmer Vallance, who with extraordinary love letters would rescue her mother from a twilight life; Stella Bowen, Phyllis's lifelong friend and fellow student under Ezra Pound, their introduction to the London literati, notably Ford Madox Ford. Throughout Mirabel's childhood, it was Stella who would be the one fast colour amid her mercurial mother's love affairs. Turning closer to the present - to new friendships, the paring away of previous assumptions and conventions and the serendipities of chance acquaintance - we encounter Michael, Mirabel's late husband, who's barbaric public-school childhood contrasted so dramatically with Mirabel's own, affectionate and carefree; whose repressed father so adored roses; their childhood meeting; their delight in their children and beloved Shropshire garden, a character in its own right, full of the joy of the unexpected. Celebrated author of A Gentle Plea for Chaos, Mirabel Osler's meditation on the profound pleasures of writing, gardens, travel and food is both graceful and deeply affecting.