Recommend me some gardening books
March 27, 2012 9:18 AM   Subscribe

For the first time in my life I have a garden! What books should I read to take me from gardening ignorance to green-fingered? Both the garden and I are in the UK.
posted by xchmp to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The RHS How To Garden is a good beginners' guide.
posted by holgate at 9:31 AM on March 27, 2012

Best answer: do you want to focus on shrubs & flowers? or even veg? containers? lots and lots of excellent stuff in the RHS as holgate mentions but there's some great Forums and blofgs for veggie growers if you are interested like Chilli growers UK
posted by Wilder at 9:40 AM on March 27, 2012

Best answer: Don't be afraid to try things. Failure is informative, more so than success. It is, in fact, heartbreaking when you go out one morning to find that squash bugs have killed all your zucchini plants overnight, and you may cry, but dead plants don't make you a serial killer and you just pick yourself up and swear you will never grow squash again so help you god until next year when you try one more time just to see.

I spent my first couple of years of gardening just flinging stuff at the ground and seeing what works. I learned volumes that way.

Find a great gardening store. Preferably something locally-run. Often places like that will be staffed entirely by local gardeners, and they may offer all kinds of classes as well. It's the best place to go and ask questions and chitchat and soak up knowledge.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:48 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: With regard to books - if you can find those local gardening experts at a shop or extension service or community program of some kind, as them. Find out who wrote the book on your local area - there always is one - and you will get advice tailored to exactly your soil and microclimate.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:46 AM on March 27, 2012

Best answer: Garden centres in the UK are a trap this time of year. Everybody is just itching to get going, and it's like a zoo most of the time. You'll come home with a boot full of potted plants, and not a clue what any of them need. Try scratching the itch with a couple of pretty things that stay in pots for the summer (maybe a gardenia and a hydrangea), and try this instead.

This year have soil tests done, and see what jumps up this season. Keep a journal. Take pictures weekly starting now, and see what thrives. Discover what you're working with. Take measurements of everything. See what the neighbors have growing. Take pictures of the things in your local area that you like the best.

Do the maintenance on what you have for a season, and decide realistically how much more or how much less you would be comfortable doing. Hate mowing the grass? Write that down. Honeysuckle covers everything in July? Nothing but a bare bunch of depressing sticks in December? Write it all down.

Make detailed grid maps of your garden and what's planted where now. See where the sun hits it during which month. Write down the rainy days, and the windy ones. Record snowfall and temperatures.

Research online about what you think you would like to have. Roses? A lot of work for what you get, and special watering needs, too. Hydrangeas? What you feed them makes a difference. Spring bulbs?

Take all of your carefully collected data to the garden center on a very slow day in November, and plan what you would like to see when next spring comes, because then you will have the very best gardening book of all.They will take you very seriously, and set about helping to select the best things for you.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 10:53 AM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Not a book, but I love "How to be a gardener" documentary series by Alan Titchmarsh.
posted by leigh1 at 12:40 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I just finished an internship at a public garden and as a going away present, they gave us interns the Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening. It is a surprisingly informative and calm guide to gardening. I don't know if it is easily available in the UK.

There are a few ways of getting started - go look at what your neighbors have growing, strike up a conversation with them and ask what the plants are and how to grow them. People who garden tend to be fairly friendly and some even will share plants. Find a reputable nursery and ask them for advice for your area.

Be okay with the fact that things don't always work out.

Get some decent tools: a spade, some sort of weeding device (I like a soil knife, some prefer an asparagus weeder, others ...), and a way to water things (watering can or hose) should be okay to start with.

Some of the most satisfying things to plant are bulbs - daffodils, snowdrops, and so on. All you do is put them in the ground in the fall and they come up in the spring.

Good luck and have fun with your garden.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:47 PM on March 27, 2012

Best answer: Oooh you lucky duck!

I recommend Allotment Gardening by Susan Berger, The New Self-Sufficient Gardner by John Seymour, and the New Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques by the Royal Horticultural Society.
posted by Specklet at 2:21 PM on March 27, 2012

Response by poster: Wow - great advice from everyone! I've now got a list things to check out. Thanks, all! (More advice welcome, also.)
posted by xchmp at 11:46 PM on March 27, 2012

Thanks to leigh1 for the recommendation of "How to be a Gardener." I've been watching all evening!
posted by feste at 9:16 PM on August 7, 2012

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