Thanksgiving for those of us in the United States will occur in 3 days. Perhaps our Canadian neighbors have gotten it correct in holding it earlier, in October. For one thing, we here in the United States would have more time between holidays. And we might be able to take a bit of a breather as well after our hectic election seasons, no matter who we all supported.
So forgive me if I turn my thoughts to garden books that might make great gift books for the holidays. Once that I have read recently is Jan Coppola Bills Late Bloomer: How to Garden with Comfort, Ease and Simplicity in the Second Half of Life.
The book is a gem published by St. Lynn’s Press. I am so partial to their books–I have not come across a bad title yet. And while I will tell you that St. Lynn’s kindly provided me with a review copy of this particular book, I have purchased several of their books on my own and loved them all equally as well. I encourage you to check them out. Their web site can be found here.
While this book, dedicated ostensibly to gardeners who might be considered more mature (hence the subtitle “in the second half of life”), quite honestly I found much practical wisdom in the book for gardeners of any age seeking low maintenance, beautiful and sustainable gardens.
Bills is upfront about the fact that she is an organic gardener and won’t use chemical pesticides or herbicides–so you know that right there I am going to love this book! She also advocates many sustainable practices such as using fall leaves to enrich the soil, using water on the property wisely, (and as our droughts seem to rotate around in different parts of the country, I think all of us can get better at water use!) and perhaps most interestingly, intensive planting to crowd out weeds.
This is something that I have been attempting in my gardens for years. She tells several stories about how she was called to potential clients gardens to thin out the overcrowded mess, only to find examples of beautifully planted gardens. She tells of one garden where the garden was flourishing and lushly planted and the only places where she saw weeds were in a spot where some overgrown hostas had been removed. She pointed out to the homeowner that by removing the plant material, she had left space for the weeds to grow, and suggested dividing some of the other hostas to quickly fill in those spaces so there would be no more room for the weeds. It’s a great lesson, and not one that only “mature” gardeners need to hear!
The other thing that Bills talks about is tools that every gardener needs but she doesn’t necessarily talk about ergonomic tools for the older gardener. Because she is still a working gardener, she clearly doesn’t need these. Someone picking up this book may be looking for suggestions on tools for working with arthritic hands or backs. Those are not here. But that is the only shortcoming, if you can call it that.
I definitely recommend this book for lots of examples of gardening smarter, not harder. And don’t necessarily be put off by the title. There is much wisdom here for gardeners of all ages.
Sydney Eddison also wrote a beautiful book about “mature” gardening: Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older. Timber. 2010. Available in many local libraries.
Yes, she did and I have Sydney’s book. Thank you for mentioning that. Sydney talks about transitioning high maintenance perennial beds to less difficult shrub beds. It’s something I have been doing in my own yard for over a decade.
Thanks so much for reading and commenting.