When I first started thinking about our garden and potential plans for it, I turned to gardening magazines for inspiration. While they did offer a few useful features, they also whisked me back fifteen years to when I bought my first home and thought it would be a good idea to look at architect and interior designer-owned abodes in Ideal Home for inspiration.
However, there was quite some gap between the expensive, cutting-edge interiors in London and my magnolia-clad, two-up two-down in North Wales. It was somewhat disheartening, to say the least. I was just a few hundred thousand pounds (and then some) and a design career short of emulating any of the featured homes.
This time around, particularly with regards to the garden, I do have a bit more space to play around with and a touch more budget to take tips from magazines, too. But the knowledge? Nope. None whatsoever. Still short in that respect. So where to begin? Well, I’m quite old school so it’s books and classrooms all the way for me. And then putting everything I’ve learnt in to practice.
The classroom part I’m still mulling over. But the books I’ve been leafing through, I can share now. I searched, and searched, and searched some more for ones that would take me through the basics, using language that I could actually understand, and these are that two that have become my bedside reading.
RHS How To Garden When You're New To Gardening: The Basics For Absolute Beginners
First up, I’m not going to lie, this is a book that I bought because the cover is just so eye-catching. Shallow? Perhaps. But that doesn’t stop it from being an amazingly helpful read. After the ‘Getting Started’ chapter, it’s then broken down in to specific areas of interest; flowers, shrubs, vegetables, for example. Finally, there’s a whole section packed with practical advice from how to water plants to dealing with issues such as keeping plants healthy and minimising the risk of disease - things that are probably obvious to experienced gardeners but not to me!
While the book is written in a way that it’s pitched perfectly at beginners - no assumptions of prior knowledge and no complicated language, hooray - it’s the photographs that really set it apart. Pretty much every step and every explanation is accompanied by an image. When talking about choosing healthy plants, the checks you should make are in visual as well as written form. Same with planting, same with pruning, same with everything. It’s such an obvious thing, right? But so many books don’t do this.
Because of the way the information is presented, it’s therefore a great book to dip in and out of. Sitting down with a cup of tea? Read a chapter. Five minutes spare before going to bed? Flick through a few pages. Every time I pick it up, I soak up something new and I’m sure that you will, too.
RHS How To Garden When You’re New To Gardening: The Basics For Absolute Beginners is available from Amazon currently priced at £13.41.
RHS Gardening Through the Year: Month-by-month Planning, Instructions and Inspiration
Now this is a slightly different book. It’s not written specifically for absolute beginners but is still amazing for people like me with little to no knowledge. It’s text heavy with not as many accompanying photographs but I know that this is going to be my reference guide for many years to come. Why? Well, because it’s monthly to do lists are so incredibly useful.
When it comes to gardening, I’m struggling with what to do and when. I’m not yet attuned to the seasons, don’t really know what to plant and in which month, and have no idea regarding the best time to tackle pruning, protecting, mowing, and so many other maintenance tasks. And while I might not quite yet have my head around how to actually do everything the to do lists tell me to tackle in any given month, I feel more in control for actually having a list and being able to read more about what each individual task entails.
And something I seriously appreciate is the comprehensive A-Z plant directory at the back of the book. It includes photographs of each plant, their day to day names as well as the Latin ones, where they’re best grown, when they bloom and which other plants are their perfect partners. Yes, I have been walking around the garden with it in attempt to identify what we’re already growing and making notes in the margin.
RHS Gardening Through The Year: Month-By-Month Planning, Instructions and Inspiration is available from Amazon currently priced at £13.98.
Do you have any favourite gardening books? Or gardening blogs, for that matter? Let me know if you have any recommendations.