After the snow flurry we had a couple of weeks ago, I was raving to go out into the garden this weekend to do some seed sowing and planting up my dahlias. And then we had more snow. Consequently I have spent the weekend moping around, looking longingly at the garden while the snow kept coming. I did buy some posh bird food which has attracting some blue tits and coal tits. So there has been a lot of cooing at the birds whilst my dreams as an urban gardener were unfulfilled.
I was also in a blogging mood, but those plans also went through the window. In weekends like to today when I can’t potter outside I watch a lot of Youtube, listen to podcasts, read and craft. This weekend I picked up a cross-stitch project I hadn’t touched for a few months. I recently bought a subscription to Rakes Progress, and that gave me the idea to talk about what books I would recommend for those of us who garden in an urban setting.
The Urban Wildlife Gardener
Written by Emma Hardy, this book walks you through what plants to grow in your back garden. From ponds in containers to types of bird feeders, to green roofs and companion planting, this book touches on a bit of everything to make your urban dwelling a pit stop of the wildlife around you. If you already have a wildlife-friendly garden and you know what you are doing, this might not be the book for you. However, if you are starting out or would like some easy-to-apply ideas, then I strongly recommend you give it a go. Emma Hardy does have other books that are centred around gardening with and for children, so if you are looking to make gardening a family affair why not check out Teeny Tiny Gardening and Green Crafts for Children?
The Container Gardener
I am a big fan of Frances Tophill. She is a breath of fresh air in the gardening celeb world what with her being in her twenties and a woman within a traditionally male-dominated sector. I had the chance to meet her at last year’s Gardener’s World Live while I assisted Life and No 27 with her interview, so I like to support her where I can. With a background in Art and Design before training at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Frances reminds us that container gardening doesn’t have to be or look boring. There is a plethora of designs out there to cater for everyone’s taste, maintenance advice as well as well as projects to make your garden even more unique. The urban gardener can be creative and grow a wide range of plants, with only a bit of know-how.
Another lady gardener crush of mine is Alys Fowler. I first discovered her on a BBC iPlayer rerun of her Edible Garden 6-episode show, then I found her books and her musings on The Guardian. You might have read my review of her non-fiction book Hidden Nature, and I had been looking forward to her new book all about house plants. The book not only teaches you how to care for your house plants, but introduces you to page upon page of indoor plants, depending on whether they like full sun, partial shade or a shady area. Suffice to say my house plant wish list has tripled.
Christine’s Walkden No-Nonsense Container Gardening
Similar to The Container Gardener, Christine Walkden’s book is full of inspirational images and touches on a little bit of everything from exotics to annuals and veg. What I do like about this book is that it gives you the exact name of the plant she recommends will do well in a pot, such as courgette ‘Midnight’ F1, raspberry ‘Glen Moy’ or snowdrop ‘Flore Pleno’. It’s a nice book to flick through when looking for inspiration for your container garden.
House of Plants
I figured Caro Langton and Rose Ray knew what they were talking about when they wrote their book as were selling air plants and they describe themselves as botanical stylists and indoor plant specialists on their website. Their book is centred around succulents, air plants and cacti specifically and are, put simply, #goals. The book showcases house plants, care guides and how-to’s and ties in nicely with Alys Fowler’s number.
I came across Dr Catherine Horwood’s Potted History through Jane Perron’s On The Ledge podcast. Social history fascinates me, add plants to the mix and I will spend hours reading or watching the book or programme in question (see Monty Don’s The Secret History of the British Garden, which I watched on repeat). From most homesteads in the 16th century having a patch dedicated to culinary and medicinal herbs, to what plants were popular three centuries later, this is a great book for those who are interested in more than having a pretty garden.