Given that I'm currently living in a flat several floors above the earth, I have to do my gardening vicariously these days … largely through reading and reviewing books. My present situation is one of choice - I don't have time to maintain the garden I'd want. And my reason for advocating that we should all do a bit of garden is that it is relaxing and plays a vital role in making you feel a connection with the world and life. Even if you don't have a garden, you can keep pot plants and window boxes, can enjoy seeding and taking cuttings and growing your own herbs and a few salad vegetables.
Alan Titchmarsh has established himself as the face and voice of gardening. He has served his apprenticeship, has done all the cold, dirty, wet jobs, and spent most of his life working with the soil. He has the experience, he has undoubted practical knowledge, and he has an extraordinarily warm and communicative personality which regularly graces television. His "The Complete How to be a Gardener" is a first class guide for anyone wanting practical advice.
"The Gardener's Year", meanwhile, supplements and extends this earlier title. Gardening is intimately bound to the seasons and the weather. To garden successfully, you have to plan ahead, have to visualise. Those beautiful blooms or that rich crop of potatoes didn't happen over night. You have to time things, prepare the ground at the right time, plant at the right time, prune, feed, stake, weed at the right time.
Titchmarsh looks at the routines of gardening, the planning of gardening. It's a good book to buy at Christmas so you can map out your year ahead. What do you want from your garden? Colour? Wildlife? A year round harvest of vegetables? Much television latterly has emphasised garden design - but planning your gardening, getting the jobs into the right order is really the essential factor. And planning should be a joy - sitting on a cold, wet January night and imagining the bulbs in bloom, or the taste of fresh picked strawberries, or whatever … that's one of the real joys of gardening.
Excellent package, loads of first class advice, but also a book which should motivate and enthuse you. A book to enjoy and use … but enjoy it first.