Clueless in the Garden: A Guide for the Horticulturally Helpless
Key Porter, 2003 (2003)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
hough I wouldn't call myself quite
in the garden, I don't have a natural green thumb, and learned my few skills by guess and by golly. So this back-to-basics guide, which advises on how to '
have a garden and a life too
', was very welcome. It will be even more useful to those who are total novices outdoors. The author calls gardening '
' and her enthusiasm is catching.
Tools of the Trade
(those you need, those you don't, and the nice-to-have) and
Gardening Where You Live
(what plants will grow easily in your zone's climate and how to take zone ratings with a grain of salt). Cunnington takes us through assessing soil, prepping and fertilizing beds, mulching, composting, and efficient watering. She explains how to decipher botanical names; where and when to buy plants and what to look at; how to look after a lawn (mow higher, fertilize in the fall and avoid pesticides) or to use ground cover as an alternative.
ext comes how to plan and plant a flower garden, with discussion of annuals, biennials and perennials, bulbs, vines and ornamental grasses. Choose a color scheme, consider height and spacing, mix and match with small trees and shrubs, and '
aim for continuous bloom
'. Groom your garden, divide perennials in spring (with detailed instructions, thank goodness!) and keep fine tuning. More specialized topics include: how to handle a shady garden (with two entire pages on hostas); growing trees and shrubs (I needed the '
' course); growing a
; and '
The Joy of Container Gardening
' - how to plant in pots and retired objects and to create '
' section on coping with weeds, pests and plant diseases, is just as useful as the tips on pruning. I appreciate its slant towards organic gardening, tips on spotting weeds and on how to make a hospitable environment for helpful bugs. Throughout this manual are useful tables on water-efficient plants, bloom times, accent trees, kitchen herbs, etc., and there are gardening to-do lists by season. And if you remain '
' after all this, there's even advice on how to hire a landscape pro, and a useful list of resources for further enlightenment.
Clueless in the Garden
leaves us with no more excuses to remain that way.
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