As many reviewers have said, GORGEOUS pictures. I am glad to have signed this out from the library for the pictures alone. This is a good overall guidAs many reviewers have said, GORGEOUS pictures. I am glad to have signed this out from the library for the pictures alone. This is a good overall guide for raising backyard chickens in a suburban area, with lots of basic information about habitat, feeding, predators, fencing, and composting. It breezes over a lot of these topics, which is great for the beginner who "doesn't know what they don't know" and each topic could easily be researched further if desired. The writing style is casual, approachable. The author also does a nice job of acknowledging that the definition of "free-range" can be a bit elastic, admitting that not every household will want their birds roaming freely at all times. She describes total free range, periodic free range, and coop-and-run systems, and is clear that all are acceptable to her.
However. Some of this seems totally unrealistic to me. As a full time worker, part time gardener who has struggled with chickens in my gardens for years, many of the things written here made me scoff. Perhaps with a bigger budget, a full time staff, or elves toiling in my garden.... For one, 'chickens may ocassionally dislodge dirt from around the base of perennials, endangering the root ball, and you should periodically inspect the area and scoop that dirt back.' Ha! In my world, chickens absolutely will create craters around one perennial after another if given free rein. It is impossible to keep up with them. For two, 'don't feed your chickens 'treats' from your garden, and they won't even find your edibles.' Hahahahahaha. They needed no help whatsoever to find my sugar snap peas the very day they ripened, long before I had ever given them any. Ditto strawberries. Ditto tomatoes. I am all for sharing the bounty, but they were on the move, hunting for deliciousness all day every day.
My solution has been a coop-and-run system with a few hours of free range time many afternoons. This has worked well for us, and my happy chickens have provided us with many eggs, reduced pest populations, and hours of enjoyment....more
This is a wonderful book, packed with gardening facts and imaginative descriptions of the variety and wonder of seeds. I especially love the detailedThis is a wonderful book, packed with gardening facts and imaginative descriptions of the variety and wonder of seeds. I especially love the detailed illustrations. ...more
Locavores before the term was coined, Jo Ann and Jigs Gardner share their love of small fruit gardening and cooking in this charming small book. TheyLocavores before the term was coined, Jo Ann and Jigs Gardner share their love of small fruit gardening and cooking in this charming small book. They make it seem so easy! They celebrate the beauty and charm of small fruit in the garden, and also many recipes for jams, jellies, chutneys, etc, as well as various dishes that are enhanced by a fruit filling or accompaniment. There is even a recipe for cottage cheese!...more
This is a marvelous book. I have always wanted to know how to choose among all of the various specialized tools that I covet at the garden center. DoThis is a marvelous book. I have always wanted to know how to choose among all of the various specialized tools that I covet at the garden center. Do I want an anvil-action hand pruner, or a bypass hand pruner? Stainless steel? Carbon steel? I ponder, and then I choose at random. No more! Mysteries of garden tools, explained! And the gorgeous photographs, straightforward layout, and lay-flat spiral binding make this a pleasure to peruse. ...more
Peonies, primroses, and anemones, oh my! Gorgeous photographs accompany brief summations of many early-blooming perennials in an encyclopedic format.Peonies, primroses, and anemones, oh my! Gorgeous photographs accompany brief summations of many early-blooming perennials in an encyclopedic format. Each featured variety rates a small photograph, but my favorite photos gather many specimens into a full page collage. ...more
Companion to Volume I, early perennials, this volume presents late blooming perennials in the same format. It rates an extra star because it identifieCompanion to Volume I, early perennials, this volume presents late blooming perennials in the same format. It rates an extra star because it identified the lovely silver foliage plant that has been merrily returning to Stella year after year (Artemisia stelleriana) which I thought was an annual and didn't record in my garden journal. It also presents many lovely photographs of various Dianthus, Penstemon, and Delphinium which I long to collect. This book made me very happy. ...more
If I subscribed to the magazine that originally published these columns, I am sure the gentle, pleasant, and inspiring essays would be my favorite parIf I subscribed to the magazine that originally published these columns, I am sure the gentle, pleasant, and inspiring essays would be my favorite part of the magazine. Since I don't, and read them one after another in this collection, I must admit reading them was more of a three star experience than a four star one. They are charming. Adorable. Chock-full of ideas that sound so sweet and easy and wonderful. One after another. And then, a little.... Repetitive. Unrealistic. Sappy. The projects she outlines are like those of a Mother Earth Martha Stewart. Sure! Decorate your outdoor pines for Christmas for the birds! Just bake a batch of birdseed cupcakes, homemade suet, strung raisins and cranberries, no problem! I would dearly love to have a friend who does this project every year. I'll join her on the last day and spend my afternoon. I got a little peevish when I started to tally up the hours and hours of free time she spends sidetracked from whatever it is she says she was supposed to be doing that day. I got jealous. I held it against her a little bit that she seemed to be saying that anyone can do these things. That "just a few minutes a day" EVERY DAY! keeps her houseplants thriving. Also, I am totally with her on loving toads. I don't so much love her exhortations to leave messiness in the garden in order to support the populations of skunks, wasps, caterpillars, and all manner of beasties large and small. I know, the "bad" bugs feed the "good" bugs feed the rest of the world. I still don't want to welcome the bad ones.
Anyway. Each essay was lovely. As a collection, a little overwhelming. ...more
One of the most gorgeous gardening books I own, this is a beautifully presented and nicely arranged book meant to make you fall in love with all the pOne of the most gorgeous gardening books I own, this is a beautifully presented and nicely arranged book meant to make you fall in love with all the plants that grow in this area. It does that well. The information about each plant is somewhat scant, and using this book as a reference turns out to be somewhat more difficult. ...more
I love the many gorgeous photos and the text shows a clear love of botanicals, but is so unuseful for me (huge budget, British climate) that I can't eI love the many gorgeous photos and the text shows a clear love of botanicals, but is so unuseful for me (huge budget, British climate) that I can't even bear to read some of it. It gives advice that I simply can't follow, and isn't enough fun to read to make it worth reading just for the joy of it. Mostly I just want to drink in the brilliant landscapes and tropical plantings while I huddle indoors here in the mid-February New England snow....more
I completely misunderstood this book when I fell in love with the slender volume with a sweet cover and adorable title. I anticipated a conversationalI completely misunderstood this book when I fell in love with the slender volume with a sweet cover and adorable title. I anticipated a conversational story a la Amy Stewart, in which a recognizable protagonist sets out to plant a garden from 100 packets of seeds. I fully expected to enjoy fond stories of some of my favorite plants, and to discover new plants to try in next year's garden. Instead, I flew through a pleasantly quippy conversational list of plants with hints of the story behind the protagonist's "real" gardens, of which he has many. The 100 varieties of seed-grown plants that he describes for us are preexisting in these gardens, growing among his others. It felt quite a lot like reading a well-written plant catalogue, and would have benefitted greatly from photographs since I found I could not take away one plant image of anything I had not already grown. I think I would have enjoyed this more if each chapter were an audio commentary on NPR, or perhaps an article featured in a weekly gardening magazine. There were many nice turns of phrase that would have lingered with me had I experienced them in another format. For example:
"Of the many seeds spread by birds, not all are welcome, but some get left for amusement's sake. There are one or two bird-sown asparagus plants allowed to grow in the rose garden, on the grounds that, if asparagus fern looks right in a bridegroom's buttonhole, the thing itself can hardly look wrong among rosebushes. But I wouldn't defend this reasoning to the death."
Now, as an audio, I would be enchanted by that image. I can just hear the gentle laughter in his voice as pokes a bit of fun at the whimsy in his garden. It's the sort of thing I would in fact do, and defend, although also not to the death. But in written form, I am left disappointed. I want more story, less snippet-of-musing. And if there is not to be more story, let there be more usefulness! There are tips and tricks mentioned throughout the book, but they include things like borrowing a neighbor's cattle to graze down the field you'd like to make into a meadow. Not practical for me! Also, unfortunately for me, the climate of this gardener is far removed from my brutal New England winters. All of this delightful self sowing that I would love so much is struck down and decimated each year when you live where I do! He is lucky to have such extravagence.
This was a very quick read and it was a pleasant enough one. I just wish I had loved it unreservedly....more