Wednesday, 24 April 2013

my love of gardening & books

my love of gardening started as a young child. i had a little garden of my own nestled under the huge birds nest fern at my grandparents house and one at home beneath the lemon tree. there i grew violets, busy lizzie's and sprinkled ‘cottage garden mix’ seeds.
now i have much more space to construct a garden bed or three and my attention has turned to productive plants. lemon grass, nasturtiums, rosemary, thyme & lavender are dotted amongst the existing shrubs in the front garden. the mushroom compost filled beds out the back are filled with vegies. green beans climb a wire trellis with lettuce seedlings in front. rows of beetroot, spring onions and silver beet are interplanted with marigolds and more nasturtiums in the other recycled timber-edged beds.
growing a plant. nurturing it from a seed as those first green leaves appear. it grows taller and later its small limbs hold produce: beans, tomatoes, pumpkins or peas. such a rewarding experience it is being able to pick, prepare and then eat.  
alongside my love of gardening is that of reading and studying the images in gardening books. over the years my collection has grown; consisting mostly of thrifted books along with gifted titles from my wish list.
my top gardening books are-

'introduction to permaculture' by Bill Mollison. my go-to book. packed full of info on designing a productive and practical garden (and home) using permaculture principles- from a small backyard to commercial farm size. there are plenty of helpful hand drawn diagrams throughout too. i’ve been lucky enough to find 3 copies over the years from op-shops.
'Esther Deans’ gardening book: growing without digging'. an oldie but still very relevant. all about constructing a no-dig garden using layering methods, composting and pest control.
'the permaculture home garden' by Linda Woodrow (who also has a lovely little blog). another thrifted book. easy reading based again around the permaculture principles. topics of this book include choosing a site for your vegie beds and introducing chickens into the garden system.

'one magic square': grow your own food on one square metre' by Lolo Houbein. great for the small area gardener and those new to growing their own food.  it has instructions on plant spacing and garden bed layout to make the most of limited space. also featured are themed plantings- the curry plot, the pizza plot and the soup plot.
the latest addition, my easter gift this year is 'seasons in my kitchen garden: a journey from paddock to potager' by Marcelle Nankervis. this book is written season by season about Marcelle’s experience on moving to her family’s farm and starting a beautiful garden from scratch. plenty of beautiful photography too.

do you have a favourite gardening book? maybe one you always seem to turn to when you have a gardening query?


  1. When I married a horticulturist a couple of years ago my own collection was boosted by about 90 books, but I'm always referring to Stirling Macaboys "What flower is it ". Love Esther Dean too

  2. It's funny, cause even though I grew up with parents and grandparents who had a love of gardening it never really rubbed off on me. Now that I have an interest in growing our own food I wish I had paid more attention to the actual process rather than just raiding the garden bed of berries and peas.
    You have a great selection of books there Zara. I'm currently reading Bill Mollison's and recently issued Linda Woodrow's. Trying to absorb all the information I can in order to have a productive growing season.
    Here's to a great season of harvesting for you :)

  3. my grandfather had a massive vegge plot which we lived in as kid and were allowed to raid at will, i loved it.
    i'm in my 9th year of vegge gardening now, and each year i try a few new things-aubergene and capcicums this year. when i started out i used to borrow books from the library, but i never got particularly attached to any one, and i tend to google specific questions i have.
    i do however love garden stories or diaries. on my bedside table at the moment i have a little history of british gardening by jenny uglow.
    i keep hearing about permaculture and it sounds like something i'd be into so i must look up the bill mollinson book

  4. Firast, I love that name-Lolo.
    Second. My favourite garden book is Derek Jarman's 'Garden' although it is more a memoir of poetry and beautiful desolate photos. It is exquisite. I also love 'the Secret Garden'. Do these count as gardening books?

  5. I love gardening books too. I found an amazing one called the Cooks Garden (published in the 70's). Filled with gardening know how, recipes and lovely illustrations. I looking forward to getting my winter vege garden up and running xo

  6. I think maybe I haven't found the right book yet... I do most of my research online and at the plant nursery. Would love to see some pictures of your gardens...

  7. my husband is obsessed with reading gardening books too. he loves John Seymore and has read it over and over again. He grows the veggies and I do the flowers. But because he's back at college he has decided not to grow a veggie garden this year. he's going to be so very lost!
    Rosie x

  8. My mum worked at Tagari for a while - and so did my good friend Michelle - she was involved in the revamping of that book! :)

  9. Gardening books are an obsession with me. As well as the reference-type garden books, I enjoy reading about gardeners and their gardens. Of my vast collection I think the one I use the most is the "Readers Digest Encyclopaedia of Plants & Flowers" which almost always assists in identifying any mystery plant I've come across in our garden.

    I'd been searching the Op shops for that vintage Esther Dean's Gardening Book for at least 5 years, and finally just last week I came across a tidy copy for $1. To my surprise, in the next Op shop I visited the same day I found another copy for 50 cents (now in my sister's collection). This week I found yet another, but I left it for someone else to enjoy. It seems they are popping up like mushrooms lately!


  10. I love a good gardening book too. I have Linda's book and Introduction to Permaculture(thanks to you!) which are both favourites here. Magic Square I have also read before and I think if I had a standard backyard would be invaluable. I also enjoy Jackie French's Backyard Self Sufficiency and Best of book.


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