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The Garden Jungle: or Gardening to Save the Planet

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  739 ratings  ·  112 reviews

The Garden Jungle is a wonderful introduction to the hundreds of small creatures with whom we live cheek-by-jowl and of the myriad ways that we can encourage them to thrive.

The Garden Jungle is about the wildlife that lives right under our noses, in our gardens and parks, between the gaps in the pavement, and in the soil beneath our feet. Wherev
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 11th 2019 by Jonathan Cape (first published 2019)
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Average rating 4.39  · 
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Tanja Berg
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ecology
Dave Goulson has changed the lives of thousands of insects in my neighborhood. He has inspired me to let the lawn grow, to grow bee friendly flowers from seed, to only buy peat free earth for my pots. He has opened my eyes to the ecological collapse happening right before our eyes.

Intensive agricultural farming has had devastating effect on earth worms, insects and birds. In this book he shows how effective growing your own vegetables can be. There are plenty of tips on how to make the world a b
Sep 21, 2019 rated it liked it
If you are fortunate to have a garden but don’t really pay it much attention, then you might not be aware of the insects and other wildlife that inhabit it at the moment. It is a jungle out there, but one that you need to get down on your hands and knees to see properly. Everything from the microbes, worms and ants in the soil, to the insects that pollinate and right up to the small mammals and birds that prey on all of these creatures lower down the food chain.

If you can tear your attention awa
Goulson’s books are all great, but also all of a piece, such that you could pick just one to read (and it might as well be A Sting in the Tale) and don’t necessarily need to follow it with the rest. His focus in all his books is on insect life, what it says about the state of the environment in general, and what we can do to protect and encourage wildlife in the places where we live. Here, he exposes the damage done by gardening and farming as usual, and suggests what and how regular people can ...more
Nina ( picturetalk321 )
I bought this book for its title: Gardening to save the planet, and the blurb promised a discussion of the kind of re-wilding I had learned about from Isabella Tree‘s Wilding as applied to a smaller-size garden. I‘d already stopped mowing and weeding, and this seemed to furnish the scientific justification for it. The author is a professor of biology.

And indeed, I learned a number of interesting and entertaining things about my garden: its earwigs, its ants (very militant!), its worms and how li
Gemma Williams
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this. I'm not even a gardener, do have an allotment but have not been able to get there much during the pandemic, generally don't know much about gardening. But it made no difference to enjoying this. It's so interesting, and I learnt so much about the wildlife in gardens .Worms, wasps and ants are so much more fascinating than you would think! Really eye opening on biodiversity and environmental impacts of agriculture and gardening too. And beautifully written as well. ...more
Emma Houchell
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, it taught me a lot and has me inspired and excited about my family garden
This ecological education on a small scale is crucial to us reconnecting with nature on our doorstep rather than needing to travel to a tropical jungle... and the discussion of growing your own vegetables is incredible!

Would recommend

The loss of one star is a harsh criticism, mainly the the fact that I wanted photos of the bees described, some of the plants discussed. I guess a later book could
Sarah Gregory
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I so enjoyed this book. It is not really about gardening at all but the author is passionate about insects and small animals. The book is full of the amazing and often funny habits of ants, ladybirds, earthworms and so on. But there is always a serious side. There is much to be said in praise of composting and digging. Dave Goulson goes overboard about the modern garden centre but he does admit it too! I learned a lot and started to look much more closely at my log pile.
Goska A
Dave, please never stop!


I have just put my name on the list for allotment :)
Karen Mace
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that will make you look at your garden differently! It doesn't only focus on how it looks, but the goings on underneath the soil and the insects and wildlife that visits your little part of the earth daily, and as a keen gardener and fan of wildlife, I'm even more eager now to do more bit and take time out to notice the little things - and leave things a little more 'wild' to help do my bit!

This is a really relevant book for the times we are living in - and no more than now, with
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was going to knock this book down a star because of the occasional unnecessary inflammatory comment (I came to learn about gardening, not to hear about your thoughts on the current American president) BUT I cannot, because overall this book was just too darn inspiring and interesting and I feel like it sort of changed my life. It's not a perfect book (I wish there were more references included for the studies he discussed, for example) but it gets five stars based on my emotional response.

The Garden Jungle by Dave Goulson was just what I was looking for in a garden read as we start our garden this year in earnest. It was full of interesting knowledge about apples, earwigs, worms, bees, bug hotels, moths, aquatic insects, and more. I honestly never knew how beneficial earwigs are but have loved worms and ladybirds for most of my life.

I loved reading about rewilding projects, taking farm land or even areas of lawn and letting nature take its course. How yellow rattle will kill off
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
As with his other books, the writing is really good, engaging, informative, and occasionally funny. There are a lot of negative topics (the pesticides chapter being the worst I think), however he always counters with something positive that you can do. It's not all doom and gloom, thankfully, and there are plenty of positives to takeaway from the book, though I don't see many people being persuaded to eat road kill! ...more
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the beginning of the 90's I studied Environmental Science at Uni, and that really opened my eyes. This book has done it again with a well overdue revision of my knowledge.
There are so many good ideas to counteract the stupid things we are doing to our planet. My relationship with organic growing will need some tweaking now but I know it can be done because of this book.
Read it folks, well written & hard hitting.
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another book that should be compulsory to read! Would have got more out of it if the info wasn't so localised. I'd love to know what Australia's equivalent to a meadow is?
Does make you feel a little powerless about the state of the world. Goulson should get into politics or something. I wish everyone could think more like this.
Cliff Moyce
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Inspirational. So much of what I do in the garden will now change, including what I plant, how I feed those plants, and where I buy them. A whole new world of flora and fauna (under my nose all along) has been opened up for me by Dave Goulding. What a great book.
Sarah Boon
Jan 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Goulson has a wry sense of humour that makes even a whole chapter about earwigs interesting. Plus he talks about his own garden so you can compare with what you do in your garden. Well-written, engaging book.
Robert Bowes
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic book.

As an agronomist and a farmer in the UK I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very interesting information on our wildlife and how to look after it and also encourage their populations to thrive in your garden.

I really enjoyed reading about slightly alternative views to farming practices too, although slightly outdated (2018) which means some of the information on legislation in farming is now irrelevant.

It does a good job on showing how we as a global population do not apprecia
Dave Goulson is Professor of Biological Sciences at Sussex University, United Kingdom, and has spent the last 20 years studying bumblebees. So when he writes, he tells it how it is, and we should read and act. I’ve read all his books, and can thoroughly recommend them.
This has fascinating scientific details, frightening environmental facts, and practical suggestions for what you can do in your own garden - large or small. It is also laced with the author’s delightful sense of wry humour, and som
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An important and yet entertaining book to read! Lots of mind-blowing facts about the scale we are destroying the planet but also ways we can (and sometimes do) make a huge positive impact in our own gardens. After reading the book you probably never eat Turkish grapes again, you will love and welcome all the little creatures in your garden (especially earwigs!♥️), you will have bought and planted an organic fruit tree or two, will detest garden centres and will probably have started a vegetable ...more
Simon Hoddinott
Apr 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Lovely little book with lots of practical advice and anecdotal stories. Some fascinating facts about the insect and plant world that certainly piqued my interest. Also full of little factoids that are intriguing to read, for example how a large portion of British allotments are next to railway lines because the government forces railway companies to give up their land for communal growing during the world wars, something which I can confirm!

Also anyone who stops on their way to work to pick up
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it
“Saving the planet starts with looking after my own patch.”
I learned a lot, e.g.
“Rhododendron nectar contains grayanotoxins at sufficient concentration that it can actually kill some bee species, yet honey bees somehow manage to make honey from it and this honey can induce hallucinations or death in humans if consumed in excess.”
(1) Rhododendrons are not as sterile as I had been led to believe and (2) this would make a great plot for a Tales of the Unexpected.
The image of Yellow Rattle as a pla
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you have a garden, read this book!
Dave Goulson's stories are always a pleasure to read. They are informative, hopeful and quite funny sometimes. The book is pragmatic even when the message is very grim (for example on pesticides) he doesn't make you just angry or sad, but really motivates you to do better and also give possible solutions for the problems, and things you can do.
Last year I planted 20.000 - 30.000 square metres of wild flowers after reading his book The Sting in the Tale and I
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
British biologist Dave Goulson, author of A Buzz in the Meadow and A Sting in the Tale, is your tour guide in this captivating look at all the organisms that even small, chemical- free gardens can support: earwigs, bees, moths, aquatic creatures, ants and worms. He's an intelligent, witty and passionate writer who sees hope in eco-gardening in our backyards and in community gardens (less so than in industrial farming, but that is another book topic). The book, naturally, has a British slant (for ...more
Anastasia  Kuprina
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Took me almost exactly 8 months to finish the book. Read it out of curiosity about crawly creatures I’m phobic of.
Very interesting stuff, jokes and anecdotes from author’s life are amusing and made me actually laugh a few times, which, frankly, I didn’t expect from a book about insects.
But oh boy is the author opinionated. Without reading his background on the last page of the cover I guessed he had an affectionate relationship towards bees and other buzzy fluffs, and clearly he’s all organic.
Mar 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the Norwegian edition of "The Garden Jungle; or Gardening to Save the Planet" by Dave Goulson.

This was such a great book and Dave Goulson is so brilliantly at conveying knowledge and information regarding how important it is with a diversity of species (whether it be animals, insects, birds, plants and so on). He provides with an insight in how one with even a small garden or for example a colonial garden can have huge variety of different species.

One thing that should be pointed out is
Jun 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of book that makes me with I were a savant so I could remember word-for-word all of the facts that he presents. I love how he highlights the importance of so many critters we take for granted (moths, earwigs, and ants, for instance) and discusses how gardening is not always an ecologically-friendly practice. He does a great job with the scope of this book and I like how he wraps it up in the final chapter by presenting more ecologically-sound ways of gardening. In the face of cl ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dave Goulson's The Garden Jungle is a great introduction to gardening for the environment. It touches on a wide variety of issues about making a positive contribution to local biodiversity and reducing carbon footprint through growing your own veggies in an environmentally conscious manner. He touched on issues such as the use of pesticides in food production, the use of peat in commercial composts, integrated pest management, biocontrol and feral animals, and reducing meat consumption (and enco ...more
Daniel Wood
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must read for any conservationist, or person interested in wildlife.

Goulson book is centred on the theme that our gardens/green spaces can harbour great diversity, if managed properly.
The book also highlights many of the issues facing wildlife, such as the wide spread use of pesticides and intensive agriculture, both of which have caused the huge declines seen in the UK's insect population. However, Goulson does provide some positive fixes, which although small can have huge impacts, such as
Feb 03, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021
I find it really hard to focus on purely non-fic books so found this a challenging read but it did a good job of better informing my knowledge of the simple local biodiversity of my own yard and staved off my desire to start planting seeds before March.

Focusing on gardens and their relationship with biodiversity, ecology and climate change is also really helpful for giving you practical and accessible ways to feel like youre making positive environmental change.

The recipes it threw in at the sta
Aug 03, 2019 added it
Dave Goulson has a lively and engaging writing style. He manages to be informative, amusing and depressing about the state of our natural environment, especially with respect to insect diversity and pollinators.
The majority of readers are likely to be converts to the environmental cause but anyone will learn at least a few new ways we can help.
I read the Kindle edition, which works well with links to footnotes. I was anticipating another 30% to read when I found I'd come to the end! Lots of refe
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After a childhood chasing butterflies and collecting bird’s eggs, I studied Biology at Oxford University, and then did a PhD on butterfly ecology at Oxford Brookes University. Shortly afterwards I got a lectureship at University of Southampton, where I stayed for 11 years. It was there that I began to specialize in bumblebee ecology and conservation. In 2006 I became Professor of Biology and Stirl ...more

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“much of the peat sold in garden centres is now imported from other countries, notably from Ireland, Estonia, Latvia and Finland. Estonia is a wild and unspoiled country where bears and wolves still roam, and it is sad to reflect that great chunks of it are now being dug up so that we can grow begonias.” 0 likes
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