Here is a great book for all gardeners and garden lovers who want to go that wee bit further and work with the earth and plants in a truly green way. Joe Lamp’l has filled his new book, ‘The Green Gardener’s Guide’ with tips and actions that every gardener or green-conscious citizen can take immediately to conserve and preserve precious resources.
Lamp’l is a gardening writer and host of several tv shows in the US, with a clear passion for communicating about gardening and environmental stewardship. This book is in effect, a ‘call to spades’ for gardeners worldwide, detailing ecological methods to get, and keep, the garden green.
In the introduction, Lamp’l offers up ’10 simple actions for a fast start to positively impact our planet’, and then supports that list with ’10 concepts for creating an eco-friendly garden’, which focuses the reader onto the wider picture. Lamp’l mentions several times that the book that motivated him in his efforts to ‘green up’ was Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” (1962), which has done so much to highlight the dangers to the soil and the sea (and those who rely on them) from pesticides. Lamp’l devotes the largest chapter of this book to the uncontrollable danger posed by chemicals – and those of us who love gardens know how much chemicals can become a huge part of the garden regime; and how we can wean ourselves, and the living, breathing plants and and vegetation, off them.
While the book is clearly focused on a target American readership, much of the guidance can be extrapolated to life in the Middle East, albeit on a smaller scale, with less greenery, and much less water consumption. He gives a great explanation of ‘xeriscaping’, which is basically putting the right plant in the right place. Right! This technique involves careful study of local flora and landscape to ensure that plants can survive and thrive in the climate and terrain the gardener places them in.
Reducing water – crucial here – is pored over; a theme he necessarily returns to again and again: roughly 30% of household water consumption in the US is used with suburban gardens. As a gardener recently responsible for sowing and nurturing a lawn recently, Lamp’l’s tips for watering for the root structure are invaluable, as is his mantra : “feed the soil, not the plant”.
Some faults with the book lie in his tendency to over-explain some points, making the early sections a little laborious. I felt the book also over-used the little green boxes on every other page, which distill into an over-generalised point, for example: “If you fix 1 small leak, you will save 75,000 gallons of water per year” ………………… yes, but don’t keep telling me.
Overall the book would benefit from some photos or diagrams – helpful in insect identification, for instance. These small points aside, I recommend ‘The green gardening Guide’ for any gardener, aspiring gardener, or friend of gardener looking for a present. It is a valuable source-book, and through this and his other media Lamp’l can help guide us back to a nurturing relationship with this once green earth.
“Who fertilizes and ‘icides’ the Redwood,
and how did it get to be 380 feet tall and live 500 years without any help from us?”
Joe Lamp’l, p.68, ‘The Green Gardener’s Guide’, published by Cool Springs Press 2008 www.coolspringspress.net