Book Review - The Gardener's Year

Book cover of The Gardener's Year by Alan Titchmarsh

An excellent piece of work from arguably the UK's most well known gardener.

5 Stars

Publisher: BBC Books
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0-563-52167-8

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Every gardener needs some inspiration for time to time, a helping hand to point them in the right direction when the way forward seems unclear. This book from Alan Titchmarsh has been written with the aim of guiding us gardeners through the gardening year, helping us to do different jobs at the correct time and suggesting new ideas for different months that might not have crossed our minds before.

In his introduction to The Gardener's Year Alan begins by explaining his aims for the book. "It's designed to be a comfort, not a nag, simply someone by your side advising you what to do, when, how and why."

The introduction also stresses the importance of our changing climate and how it is affecting our gardening year. The reader is encouraged to consider some flexibility to some of the recommended timings for doing specific seasonal tasks.

Alan also mentions his preference for organic pest and disease solutions throughout his book.

Following the introduction, the main bulk of the book is split into month by month chapters. Each chapter starts with a full-page colour photograph of a garden scene for the given month. This is accompanied by a written summary of the weather to expect, the types and groups of plants that are traditionally at their best in the given month and a summary of the jobs to do.

Following this introduction to each chapter, there is a comprehensive guide to the groups of plants performing at their peak in the month. Details of specific species and cultivars follow with dimensions, cultivation requirements and colour photographs.

Each chapter continues with an excellent one-page, concise checklist of the tasks to be done in the garden for the month. This is ideal for people that don't have time to read the whole chapter, it is a quick reference guide for busy people.

Each checklist also includes a Watch out for section, highlighting pests and diseases you are most likely to come across in the month. There is a Get ahead section suggesting jobs that you can move on if you finish all the recommended work for the month. A Last chance section lists the jobs that you are running out of time to do.

The at-a-glance checklist is a summary of what follows in much more detail throughout each chapter; a very comprehensive guide to all of the jobs relevant to the month. They are split into subsections that include Lawns, Trees Shrubs and Climbers, Flowers, Patios and containers, Vegetables and herbs, Fruit, Under cover, and Water Garden.

At the end of each chapter, there is a full page Project section. Each project has been carefully thought out with the particular month in mind. Each project has a large colour illustration and full practical instructions and considerations. They have quite obviously been written by somebody who has actually completed the project themselves because there are problem solving considerations included such as How much pond liner?; a simple method for calculating the amount to purchase.

Alan Titchmarsh also thinks about the average gardeners priorities when choosing his monthly project. The July project for example gives the reader instructions for creating an emergency watering system that can be used whilst taking a summer holiday.

Gardening Guru's Verdict

There will always be occasions when any keen gardener is stuck for ideas and needs some inspiration, this book is an excellent one to reach for, providing comprehensive advice on what needs to be done during every month of the gardening calendar plus offering lots of new ideas. An unlikely but excellent tool for any keen gardener.

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