This new book from the Royal Horticultural Society is quite difficult to review. It may seem to deal with just one important subject but the title, New Gardening, is a portmanteau for an extraordinarily diverse range of techniques and ideas.
The entirely reasonable premise is that we cannot continue to garden the way we once did (and how many would like to) with lush, regularly irrigated borders around broad sweeping regularly irrigated and regularly shaved lawns; spraying chemicals, piling on the fertilizer, ignoring the consequences.
So Matthew Wilson, Curator of the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Harlow Carr in Yorkshire, has brought together a range of both familiar and new techniques: composting, use of grit and gravel, permeable membranes, water and wildlife, attracting insects, mulching, choosing plants, new ideas on pruning and planting... all with one aim, as the subtitle puts it: “How to garden in a changing climate”.
There’s a huge range of excellent practical pictures, including useful step-by-step series on projects like tree planting the right way and how to make a green roof. There are planting ideas with a drier climate in mind. And while espousing and explaining this new approach he never forgets that the point is to create a garden in which to relax and enjoy the plants and their seasons. And while initially written for British gardeners North American gardeners will also find plenty of useful ideas and advice.
This invaluable book, which recently won the 2007 Practical Book of the Year Award from the British Garden Writers’ Guild, reveals a different approach for a new age, explaining - and showing with some excellent photography - how to re-invent gardening for our new world.
RHS New Gardening by Matthew Wilson is published by Mitchell Beazley.
You can buy New Gardening at a discounted price in Britain here.
You can buy New Gardening at a discounted price in North America here.