Top critical review
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Pretty, but lacking substance
on 29 April 2010
Alys' book is very pretty, and there are some useful bits; but I find the chapters very awkward to follow, it jumps around quite a lot, and nothing is dealt with in great detail. I was expecting more information than we got in the TV programme, and I felt a little let down. Very good section on the various types of compost for container planting; but her chapter on foraging almost seems an afterthought - I am hoping she is planning a whole book dedicated to the subject, which may explain why her advice amounted to 'buy a good reference book'.
Definitely one to depress those of us who need somewhere to dry clothes and house a slide and a sandpit (or, heaven forbid, a deckchair), because her garden is stunning, but what most of us (or our neighbours) would probably despair of outside the summer months - I definitely think the fact she is a professional horticulturalist puts her on a bit of a pedestal - if my garden looked like that my neighbours would probably complain to the council that it 'needs seeing to'! The explanations of permaculture / polyculture were very good, she has a lovely, approachable way of writing that explains things really well for beginners, and there's a nice chapter on edible flowers. I wish, ruefully, that I'd bought 'The Thrifty Gardener' instead.
In all, a pretty, easy to read and inspirational book more suited to the coffee table than a resource for growing healthy crops as easily as possible. If that's what you want, look to John Harrison instead.