Book Review: Good Soil by Tina Råman

I think I can safely say that Good Soil is the only book I possess that has both ‘Pee‘ and ‘Poo‘ as chapter headings. Those chapter headings give you a clue to what sort of book this is: mostly, it is about how to nourish the soil with the macro- and micronutrients plants need to thrive (many of which abound in pee and poo), and it takes a chatty, no-nonsense approach to the subject. Continue reading

Review: ‘She Sheds – a room of your own’

If I hadn’t read the introduction to this book by the author, Erika Kotite, I would have been disappointed with its contents. To me a shed has something to do with gardening rather than just being a building in a garden. Erika explains that a ‘she shed’ is a woman’s private space to escape the pressures of everyday life, a place to relax or undertake creative pursuits. Continue reading

Review: ‘Dream Gardens’ on ABC TV

When I first heard that someone was going to make a new Australian TV show about gardening, I was amazed. Then excited. Then cynicism started to creep in. Would it be another quickie makeover show? A dumbed-down ‘reality’ show filled with manufactured drama? Then I heard Michael McCoy was the presenter and I breathed a great sigh of relief because I knew he wouldn’t have anything to do with either of those. Continue reading

Review: garden at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

In real estate the mantra is location, location, location! I actually believe this can be a factor in the success of a garden, too. I have visited gardens on busy roads where the noise and pollution has dulled the experience. On the other hand, I have visited gardens in an idyllic setting, and this has enhanced the enjoyment, indeed thrill of the visit. Continue reading

Book review: A Beekeeper’s Year by Janet Luke

A Beekeeper’s Year: a practical guide to caring for bees and beehives is a beautiful book. The front cover picture made me want to read this book, and the photography throughout was beautiful, engaging and very helpful. I am not a bee keeper, nor do I really intend to be although I like the idea of it. In spite of that I really enjoyed this book. It is interesting, highly readable and I learnt a lot about bees. Continue reading

Book review: House of Plants

This charmingly idiosyncratic book seeks to enthuse its readers about the humble houseplant. Its arrival on my desk was perfect timing: as a landscape historian and fervently keen gardener, I have increasingly been wondering why my house is not full of beautiful, healthy plants. Some potted herbs in the kitchen and a dusty gloxinia upstairs are about all I can currently muster. So I was delighted to dip into this passionate, personal account of the wonders of indoor gardening. Continue reading

Book review – Planting Dreams: Shaping Australian Gardens

“A garden should be just a little too big to keep the whole cultivated. Then it gives it a chance to go a little wild in spots”.

Edna Walling’s charming observation, featured on the back cover of Richard Aitken’s Planting Dreams: Shaping Australian Gardens is a fitting analogy for the scope of this handsome new book, published to coincide with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney’s 200th birthday celebrations. Not that Aitken’s book focusses particularly on the RBGS. In fact it’s somewhat challenging to pin down the purpose of this intriguing work. Continue reading

Review: Influential Australian Garden People: Their Stories

For a book about garden people, rather than gardens, to succeed and hold interest, they need to be exceptional people with stories that are relevant to and resonate with everyday gardeners. Dr Anne Vale’s list is impressive, covering garden communicators and educators in print, radio and television, as well as a range of garden designers from around Australia. Continue reading

A road trip with a botanical garden difference

Like so many other baby boomers, my husband Peter and I love to travel. We enjoy experiencing other cultures and are particularly attracted to remote places with wide open spaces where people are few and the countryside reveals its natural beauty. Peter, a geophysicist, is seriously into rocks and I am seriously into plants. We both like animals, but unlike plants and rocks, they rarely stand still so getting a good look at them on a road trip is often more frustrating than satisfying! Continue reading