Spring is around the corner. We know it’s still a bit cold, but it’s time to plan your garden with the help of our eLibrary.
This list was compiled with the help of information and content librarian Lisa Brennan.
“No longer considered the preserve of old men in sheds, allotment gardening is currently enjoying a renaissance of interest. People of all ages and from all walks of life are digging their own plots in search of the ultimate in fresh, organic produce – and you cannot get more locally-sourced than your own allotment!
“This book testifies to the vibrancy of allotment culture, aiming both to inspire the next generation of plot-holders and to provide all the practical knowledge needed to turn a patch of soil into a lifelong adventure.”
“Allotment Handbook has everything you need to leave the supermarket behind in favour of tastier and healthier home-grown fruit and veg. Avoid bland, pesticide-tainted produce flown in from the other side of the world and start growing your own with this reassuring guide, complete with a glossary of gardening terms and a picture gallery of common weeds.
”“Allotment Handbook takes you through 10 steps to preparing your plot and teaches you need to know techniques such as sowing, plating, feeding, mulching, watering and weeding. Armed with the basics, you’ll learn how to grow over 70 types of fruit and vegetable crops. You’ll also find easy projects such as making a simple compost bin and planting a fruit tree and tips to attract wildlife along with simple, delicious ways to enjoy your produce. A handy troubleshooting section covers identifying and dealing with weeds, pests, and diseases.”
“Allotment Gardening is a practical guide to growing your own fruit and vegetables organically. Aimed at those who have not had an allotment before, or are new to growing their own, it is packed with advice from choosing and planning your allotment through to harvesting and storing your produce.
“Each fruit and vegetable entry features an easy recipe to help you make the most of your fresh produce: simple soups from pea to pumpkin, unusual ways of serving vegetables, from frizzled Brussels sprouts to roasted beetroot with thyme; more exotic dishes, from sautéed kohl rabi to an earthy ribollita; and easy recipes for puddings and jams.
“Illustrated with line drawings and over 30 full colour photographs, Allotment Gardening also includes a directory of organic seed suppliers and useful organizations.”
“A simple and systematic guide to growing a selection of the tastiest fruit and vegetables. The aim of the book is to start you off with some easy-to-grow produce such as carrots, onions, radishes, tomatoes and strawberries. Once you have the confidence of the first growing season behind you, you can then progress to crops requiring slightly more labour, such as peas, beans and raspberries.
“When you grow your own produce, you can be absolutely sure that everything has been organically cared for and you can grow just the variety you like. You can pick the fruit and vegetables at their freshest without a tiresome journey to the supermarket. It’s satisfying, it’s economical and it’s delicious.”
“Simple and foolproof! Enjoy beautiful container plantings with no stress or fuss. Container Theme Gardens offers 42 plans for container arrangements, each using just five specific plants that you can find at your local garden centre.
“There’s something here for every setting and every style, including a meadow in a box, a pond in a pot, a simple salad garden, and a combination that will attract hummingbirds. Each plan includes photographs of what the full planting will look like, as well as a handy shopping list so you know exactly what you need.”
“Organic Gardening For Dummies shows readers the way to ensure a healthy harvest from an environmentally friendly garden. It covers information on the newest and safest natural fertilizers and pest control methods, composting, cultivation without chemicals, and how to battle plant diseases. It also has information on updated equipment and resources. It helps the reader to plant organically year-round, using herbs, fruits, vegetables, lawn care, trees and shrubs, and flowers.”
Building Raised Beds: easy, accessible garden space for vegetables and flowers, by Fern Marshall Bradley
“For beginning gardeners and homeowners, this handbook shows you exactly how to plan, build, and plant a simple raised bed. Fully illustrated step-by-step insturctions make it easy and ensure success! In just a weekend, using a few basic materials and minimal building skills, you can set up a complete garden bed adapted for vegetables, flowers, or herbs.”
“With literally hundreds of choices, it can be overwhelming to decide which perennials to plant in your garden. Nancy J. Ondra takes the stressful guesswork out of perennial garden planning by offering 52 vibrant designs, each made up of only five plants.
“Ondra tailors each simple design to a specific set of growing conditions, with plenty of tips to help your planting mature. Enjoy gardens full of sun-drenched blooming flowers and shade-loving greenery for years to come.”
“If you need to know how to prevent everyday troubles from turning into gardening disasters, Garden Rescue will save the day. This “first aid manual” for your garden will help you identify, understand, and tackle a wide range of common problems, from poor fruit harvests and unruly trees and shrubs to preventing pests and diseases.
“Using anatomy guides, symptom flow charts, and plant clinics, you’ll solve any problem facing your fruit and veg patch or flower garden. You’ll learn what’s normal and what’s not, how to spot early warning signs of distress, and preventative measures to keep your plants healthy.
“Whether your wisteria is wilting or your fatsia isn’t flowering, Garden Rescue has hundreds of practical solutions so you can be your own garden medic.”
“Alan’s comprehensive guide will tell you everything you could possibly want or need to know about fruit and veg and how to grow it, including herbs, baby veg, salads, every-day fruits plus gourmet or unusual varieties, and how to fit them into today’s stylish small gardens. As well as providing the key facts needed to yield good results and what to do when things go wrong, the text is sprinkled with Alan’s personal observations, anecdotes, culinary tips and quirky historical uses.
“The book takes a very practical approach, starting from scratch for the benefit of anyone who’s never grown their own before, but is also ideal for those with some experience who might be growing edibles in a new way - perhaps in a small space that needs to look attractive, or on a new allotment.
“Lavishly illustrated throughout with over 250 photographs and artworks, this inspirational and authoritative fruit and veg bible from the UK’s best-selling and most influential gardener will become a classic in the genre.”
“Linda Tilger encourages you to embrace the lazy gardener within to work smarter and relax harder.
“With hundreds of time-saving techniques, Tips for the Lazy Gardener shows you how easy it can be to grow hearty vegetables and fragrant herbs. Covering everything from planning an efficient garden to effective shortcuts for harvesting your crops, Tilga’s expert suggestions are designed to mitigate chore time while increasing your gardening pleasure. Enjoy a thriving and abundant garden — without all the back-breaking, energy-sapping work.”
“Over two years the professionals at Gardeners’ World created a series of beautiful flower gardens from a disused playing field in Birmingham. Here Toby Buckland reveals how you can adopt the tried and tested methods used at Gardeners’ World to create your own year-round flower garden in this beautifully illustrated guide to the flower gardens at Greenacre.
“Split into achievable front and back garden plots, the Greenacre gardens accommodate a range of designs, aspects and plant-types, from a luscious twilight garden for evening scent and nectar-filled bee border to attract beneficial wildlife, to a hardy coastal garden to show what you can do with very dry soil. Toby talks through the concept, planting and maintenance requirements of each garden, describing every flower in full and assessing the environmental benefits of each one. And he expertly demonstrates how to make bespoke feature projects such as cobble paths and bee boxes.”
“200 simple recipes using the produce from your plot
“The Allotment Cookbook Through the Year is the recipe book for those gardeners that would like to know how to cook delicious seasonal dishes to help make the most of their home-grown produce. Featuring over 200 recipes for popular crops such as apples, berries and herbs, this is packed with imaginative and inspiring ideas to turn your produce into healthy, fresh meals.
“Including techniques and expert advice to help you harvest, preserve and prepare your crops successfully, this is the perfect veg-grower’s kitchen companion.”
“Michelin-starred chef and star of BBC2’s Economy Gastronomy Paul Merrett is using the plot…
“The Allotment Chef follows Paul, his wife and two reluctant children as they learn to garden, make what they hope is their final trip to the supermarket, build relationships with fellow allotmenteers and slowly watch their crops flourish and sometimes fail. They contend with the inevitable disappointments along the way with good humour and perseverance, and only the occasional temper tantrum.
“As the asparagus poke through the soil and the battle against the lettuce-munching slugs is won, Paul turns his humble vegetables into recipes worthy of his epicurean background. He includes over 85 allotment-inspired recipes, including simple dishes such as one pot vegetable stew and meringue cake with summer berries as well as more involved dishes such as pumpkin ravioli, tea-smoked chicken breast on allotment vegetables and steamed walnut and allspice sponge with roasted plums.
“Paul’s charming narrative is interspersed with his personal take on food ethics, celebrity chefs and the legacy of his self-sufficient grandparents. Reportage and food photography accompanies his story. Part recipe book, part memoir, The Allotment Chef is an engaging, informative and humorous read.”
“In this timely new book, Gardeners’ World’s thrifty and resourceful Alys Fowler shows that there is a way to take the good life and re-fashion it to fit in with life in the city.
“Abandoning the limitations of traditional gardening methods, she has created a beautifully productive garden where tomatoes sit happily next to roses, carrots are woven between the lavenders and potatoes grow in pots on the patio. And all of this is produced in a way that mimics natural systems, producing delicious homegrown food for her table.
“She shares her favourite recipes for the hearty dishes, pickles and jams she makes to use up her bountiful harvest, proving that no-one need go hungry on her grow-your-own regime. Good for the pocket, good for the environment and hugely rewarding for the soul, The Edible Garden urges urbanites everywhere to chuck out the old gardening rules and create their own haven that’s as good to look at as it is to eat.”
Other great garden-related reads
“This colourful and lively history book tells the story of allotments from their origin in the 17th century protests against enclosures to the present day. Includes the effects of the Napoleonic Wars, the Corn Laws, the Diggers, the role of allotments in both World Wars and the present-day revival. The author champions the history of allotments in the hope of protecting them for the future.”
“Bemoaning the evils of the modern diet, Fiona Houston was challenged to prove her claim that people ate better 200 years ago than they do today — and so decided to commit herself to a year of ‘simplicity’.
“She lived in a one-roomed cottage, entirely on her own resources, for a full year. Find out how she donned historic dress, grew or gathered all her food, chopped wood and fetched water, fashioned soap, quills and candles, and waged heroic battles with damp, mice and mould.”
“Winter is a withdrawal: quiet and dark and cold. But in the dim light frost shimmers, stars twinkle and hearths blaze as we come together to keep out the chill. In spite of the season, life persists: visiting birds fill our skies, familiar creatures find clever ways to survive, and the world reveals winter riches to those willing to venture outdoors.
“In prose and poetry spanning seven hundred years, Winter delights in the brisk pleasures and enduring beauty of the year’s turning. Featuring new writing from Patrick Barkham, Satish Kumar and Anita Sethi, extracts from the work of Robert Macfarlane, James Joyce and Kathleen Jamie, and a range of exciting new voices from across the UK, this invigorating collection evokes the joys and the consolations of this magical time of year.”
“At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the impossible was delivered. From the sterile depths of a disused china clay pit in Cornwall rose one of the most remarkable and ambitious ventures in recent memory. The Eden Project’s Biomes, the world’s largest conservatories, are the symbol of a living theatre of plants and people and their interdependence, of regeneration and of a pioneering forum for the exploration of possible futures.
“This is the extraordinary story of the Eden Project, of its conception, design and construction, of the larger-than-life personalities who made it happen and of all that has happened since its doors were first opened to the public in 2001. It is now undisputedly one of the world’s great gardens with more than 17 million visitors flocking there and projects and partnerships all over the world.”
“After leaving the editorship of the Daily Express, Rosie Boycott wasn’t sure what to do next. A terrible car accident forced her to rethink her life, turning her in a direction she would never have previously imagined.
“Working a small farm in Somerset proves a daunting task, but Rosie and her new husband Charlie are determined, and their immersion in rural living, hilarious and profoundly moving, reaps rewards they never expected. Pigs, ducks and geese are fattened for the butcher; vegetables and cut flowers are grown for a reluctant marketplace; and Rosie and Charlie discover much about the hard graft of running a smallholding.
“They learn too about weightier issues that affect the local community of Ilminster – particularly the new supermarket that threatens the soul of the local town centre. And Rosie finds recovery in the rhythms of the seasons.”
“For the last six years of his life, Roger Deakin kept notebooks in which he wrote his daily thoughts, impressions, feelings and observations about and around his home, Walnut Tree Farm. Collected here are the very best of these writings, capturing his extraordinary, restless curiosity about nature as well as his impressions of our changing world.”
“A Year in Christine’s Garden is the utterly down-to-earth account of one woman’s passion for plants.
“Recounting stories from her hectic life in horticulture, Christine Walkden’s diary is a heartwarming account of octogenarian neighbours, living with a film crew and helping friends with their gardening needs. Reflecting all the charm of her BBC2 television series, Christine’s narrative paints a picture of the day-to-day beauty that surrounds her. She likes being outside, she likes walking her dog Tara, she likes watching the light change and she enjoys those little moments when everything seems right in the world. With irrepressible enthusiasm, she interweaves tips and advice to prove that the best gardens are approachable and achievable.
“Forget fashion, forget trends - Christine’s garden is about no-nonsense planting and growing what you enjoy. As the year progresses, this warm, but frank diary brings to life all the moments of pride, excitement, relaxation and laugh-out-loud fun that make Christine’s garden a haven of contentment.”
“Richard Taylor, author of the best-selling How to Read a Church, joins forces with garden historian Andrew Eburne to produce the ultimate guide to historic and modern gardens.
“Gardens are amongst the fastest-growing visitor attractions today - in the UK alone 15 million people will visit a garden this year. How to Read an English Garden is the essential book for every garden lover. It provides an account of the different elements of gardens of all ages and explains their meaning and their history: here, you’ll find the answer to such questions as: when were tulips introduced into our gardens, and what was ‘tulip-mania’? What is a knot-garden, and what was the origin of its design? Who was ‘Capability’ Brown, and how did he get his name? Why are mazes such a common feature in English garden design? In addition, the book explains how lawns, flowerbeds, trees and ponds came to be a feature not just of grand houses but of gardens everywhere.”
In the latest edition, you can learn how to force early strawberries, plant a spring container, pot up perennial cuttings and much more.
Homes and Gardens: creating an organic garden inspired by HRH the Prince of Wales’s gardens at Highgrove
Learn how to imitate Prince Charles’ organic garden at Highgrove from soil to ornamental trees, shrubs and topiary.