Synopses & Reviews
A green thumb is not the only tool one needs to garden welland#151;at least thatand#8217;s what the makers of gardening catalogs and the designers of the dizzying aisle displays in lawn- and-garden stores would have us believe. Need to plant a bulb, aerate some soil, or keep out a hungry critter? Well, thereand#8217;s a specific tool for almost everything. But this isnand#8217;t just a product of todayand#8217;s consumer era, since the very earliest gardens, people have been developing tools to make planting and harvesting more efficient and to make flora more beautiful and trees more fruitful. In A History of the Garden in Fifty Tools
, Bill Laws offers entertaining and colorful anecdotes of implements that have shaped our gardening experience since the beginning.
As Laws reveals, gardening tools have coevolved with human society, and the story of these fifty individual tools presents an innovative history of humans and the garden over time. Laws takes us back to the Neolithic age, when the microlith, the first and#147;all-in-oneand#8221; tool was invented. Consisting of a small sharp stone blade that was set into a handle made of wood, bone, or antler, it was a small spade that could be used to dig, clip, and cut plant material. We find out that wheelbarrows originated in China in the second century BC, and their basic form has not changed much since. He also describes how early images of a pruning knife appear in Roman art, in the form of a scythe that could cut through herbs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts and was believed to be able to tell the gardener when and what to harvest.and#160;
Organized into five thematic chapters relating to different types of gardens: the flower garden, the kitchen garden, the orchard, the lawn, and ornamental gardens, the book includes a mix of horticulture and history, in addition to stories featuring well-known charactersand#151;we learn about Henry David Thoreauand#8217;s favorite hoe, for example. A History of the Garden in Fifty Tools will be a beautiful gift for any home gardener and a reassuring reminder that gardeners have always struggled with the same quandaries.
Gardening can be frustratingly shrouded in secrecy. Fickle plants make seemingly spontaneous decisions to bloom or bust, seeds sprout magically in the blink of an eye, and deep-rooted mysteries unfold underground and out of sight. Understanding basic botany is like unlocking a horticultural code; fortunately learning a little science can reveal the secrets of the botanical universe and shed some light on whatand#8217;s really going on in your garden.
Practical Botany for Gardeners provides an elegant and accessible introduction to the world of botany. It presents the essentials that every gardener needs to know, connecting explanations of scientific facts with useful gardening tips. Flip to the roots section and youand#8217;ll not only learn how different types of roots support a plant but also find that adding fungi to soil aids growth. The pruning section both defines and#8220;lateral budsand#8221; and explains how far back on a shoot to cut in order to propagate them.
The book breaks down key areas and terminology with easy-to-navigate chapters arranged by theme, such as plant types, plant parts, inner workings, and external factors. and#8220;Great Botanistsand#8221; and and#8220;Botany in Actionand#8221; boxes delve deeper into the fascinating byways of plant science. This multifaceted book also includes two hundred botanical illustrations and basic diagrams that hearken to the classic roots of botany.
Part handbook, part reference, Practical Botany for Gardeners is a beautifully captivating read. Itand#8217;s a must for garden lovers and backyard botanists who want to grow and nurture their own plant knowledge.
Tools have coevolved with human society and#150; the microlith was invented during this time period and consisted of a small sharp stone blade that was set into a handle made of wood, bone or antler.and#160; It was the first and#147;all in oneand#8221; tool, a small spade that could be used to dig, clip and cut plant material, and to clear land as well.and#160; Wheelbarrows originated in China in the 2nd century BC, and its basic form hasnand#8217;t changed much since, though one can now outfit a wheelbarrow with the latest fashionable colors and tires worthy of two ton SUVs and#150; and in this work, the history of fifty individual tools presents an innovative and fertile history of the garden over human time. The work is organized into five thematic chapters relating to different types of gardens: the flower garden, the kitchen garden, the orchard, the lawn, and ornament.and#160; Each object based entry includes horticulture and history, and many include well known characters: we read about David Thoreauand#8217;s favorite hoe, and garden designer Gertrude Jekylland#8217;s homemade daisy digger.
Did you know that Bachelor's Buttons worn by women have been known to attract lovers?and#160; Or that wearing Cloth of Gold crocus confers the power to understand the language of birds and animals?and#160; Hidden Natural Histories: Herbs tells the stories of 150 of the most remarkable herbaceous plants used through the ages by humankind for their culinary, medicinal, and other properties. Often, the herbs most important in cooking and medicine are revered for their supernatural powers. Rosemary, for example, has been burned as an incense to cleanse and purify a room;and#160; hung over a door to keep thieves from the house; worn to aid the memory and preserve youth; bound to the right arm to cure depression, and even grown to attract helpful elves to the garden. For each of the 150 herbs in this book, there are intriguing accounts of unexpected uses (garlic was used to rid gardens of moles; eyebright was used to increase psychic powers) and historic anecdotes (fennel seeds were eaten in the Middle Ages to allay hunger). Hidden Natural Histories: Herbs weeds through the long history of our use of herbs, and provides fascinating natural history and insight on every page.
Behind the pungent aroma of garlic and the cool, palate-cleansing taste of mint in our toothpaste are untold stories of human interactions with the natural world. Celebrating the human heritage of these and other natural phenomena, the new Hidden Natural Histories series offers fascinating insight into the cultivation and use of the bits of nature we take for granted in our daily lives. In Herbs, Kim Hurst concocts a delightful tale of the leafs, seeds, and flowers that for millennia have grown in our gardens, provided savor to our stews, and been used to treat our ailments. Many of herbsandrsquo; uses will surprise: rosemary, renowned for its piney flavor, has also been used to protect homes from thieves, aid memory, preserve youth, cure depression, and attract helpful garden elves. Packed with informative and beautiful illustrationsandmdash;both new and from historical archivesandmdash;Herbs will charm and enlighten anyone interested in our relationship with the natural world and will be a special delight for every gardener, chef, . . . or purveyor of garden elves.
About the Author
Geoff Hodge is a gardening and horticultural writer living in Peterborough, UK, and the former gardening editor for Gardening News. His most recent books include The RHS Allotment Handbook, RHS Propagation Techniques, and RHS Pruning and Training.and#160;