With The First Time Gardener: Growing Plants and Flowers by Sean and Allison McManus ($29.99 Cool Springs Press) new or new-ish gardeners will find lots of information about working in the garden.
During this long pandemic year many of us have taken another look at our back yards and our gardens. So much of our chores around town, and pleasures with our friends have been put aside during these long, sometimes lonely months. Starting a garden or taking a new look at our old garden have been ways that we can bring some pleasure and joy to these days which still continue.
When I first browsed through the book with its colorful images I saw just the advice I needed. You would think after all the years I have spent with my roses I would be an expert. Alas, not. I was so happy to see the images of the ways to make the proper pruning cut of a rose stem. Needless to say roses are very prickery and so when you prune them in the spring it can be hard to get your clippers in just the right spot without pricking yourself. Of course I am always agonizing over what the right spot is. I think I often cut too close to the bud on the stem, and I think now I will be able to make better cuts.
The book title starts with The First Time Gardener, but there is a lot of information for many of us. The chapters begin with Basics, from plant types, and the plants that will entice pollinators – bees, birds, butterflies, etc. The next chapter is about what the plants need, how to layout a garden, and information about containers. Becoming familiar with your garden space and your own desires will find this chapter helpful. It is a chapter you will turn to more than once.
As you move through the book you find information about taking an inventory of your wishes, plants, your tools, and sunlight. Gauging the quality of your soil is important, as well as learning how to improve it.
Essential basics continue in this useful and enjoyable 164 page book. Want to learn the different ways to mulch, prune, compost, recognize plant diseases, and deal with animals? Squirrels are always hiding nuts in my lawn, and dig up the lawn everywhere in the spring. This book is sure to help you.
Sean McManus worked on his family’s rhododendron farm in Washington State, and continued his interests with a Master’s degree in environmental horticulture. He has been spent more than 12 years in a private landscape and consulting company. His wife, Allison McManus has always loved the natural world and has a Master’s degree in teaching. Together they now have a website – spokengarden.com; spokengarden.com/blog; and Instagram, Twitter and more.
Watch for the next important garden book – The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook by Susan Mulvihill.