I was contacted recently by Transworld Publishers and asked if I would like to review three gardening book diaries written by author Val Bourne, covering the fruit, vegetable and flower garden. Val Bourne has been a fanatical gardener since childhood, she has worked in vegetable research and has grown her own fruit and veg for many years without chemical use. She has a large allotment as well as fruit and veg patches nestled amongst her extensive flower garden in the Cotswolds. She regularly writes for the Crocus website and publications such as Daily Telegraph, Saga, Oxford Times, Grow It, Hardy Plant Society magazine, Homes and Gardens, The English Garden, RHS The Garden and The Rose Magazine.
The books have a real vintage feel to them which I adore. Warm and attractive illustrated covers with tasteful colours ensure that these books will have key place on the book shelf. The books are packed with useful tips including Val Bourne’s own success secrets, organic tips and snippets of broad knowledge which displays the authors deep personal understanding and obvious passion for gardening. I was pleased to see tips aimed at attracting and preserving wildlife, something that is very close to my heart and I feel all gardeners should be doing.
Each book is written with time pressed people in mind, covering essential tasks and offering useful tips to keep the fruit, veg and flower garden thriving, maintained, and manicured throughout the growing year. Clearly structured with a carefully chosen plan of action covering the growing year season by season and month by month. I find breaking down the workload in this way, combined with practical tips for all abilities really gives the reader a clear sense of direction to tackle essential tasks. All too often these tasks can seem over bearing or too difficult to achieve, to the beginner it can all seem very daunting but Val Bourne simplifies the process with her easy-going approach to gardening.
The books are practically written, clearly defining time frames for planting, sowing, harvests, dividing and pruning which can be confusing to the new gardener. There are many detailed recommendations for modern and old varieties of plants, shrubs, fruit and vegetables to help the reader make an informed choice. The books are also practical to carry around with you, unlike some of my rather bulky and heavy books. In an age of digital photography you might be disappointed there are no photographs, but the illustrations are clear and easy to follow.
In my opinion all three books are pleasantly ‘olde worlde’ to the eye, but modern and practical in content to suit todays organic and often time pressed gardener.