Saturday, June 30, 2012

Twin Treasures: Real Gardeners' True Confessions and The Able Gardener

Real Gardeners' True Confessions
by Pat Stone
Storey Communications, Inc.
Schoolhouse Rd, Pownal, VT05261

I usually try to find new books, but every once in awhile, since I love to hunt around for very specific topics, whether on the 'net or browsing second-hand bookstores, I find something I think might have gone unnoticed that deserves special attention, even if it's older. In this case, I found two gardening books that you might want to hunt for on your next trip to a used book store.

The first book is “Real Gardeners' True Confessions” by Pat Stone which is an absolute delight for anyone just starting out. With lots of comic relief and real tales of “oops” events in the lives of even well-known gardeners and garden columnists, it provides hope for even the klutziest beginner while dispensing some really valuable gardening information that can be used for reference. The style is easy-to-read, with clear explanations and real-life examples. And who can resist chapters like “I was a Cowardly Pruner” or “The 7 WORST Gardening Slip-Ups”?

If you like the approach that Pat Stone takes, he is also the publisher of the quarterly “GreenPrints” (PO Box 1355, Fairview, NC, 28730) which offers personal stories told by gardeners of every stripe, relating the day to day adventures and funny incidents that happen in their garden journeys.   Stone is also a garden club speaker.
Since used bookstore prices are always well below what you'd pay at the store (and many folks these days are operating on a thin budget), so it's a doubly-valuable find. I got mine for $1.25. I'm pretty sure both books are out of print.
Speaking of folks operating on thin budgets, here's something for seniors...

The Able Gardener: Overcoming Barriers of Age and Physical Limitations”
by Kathleen Yeomans, R.N.
Storey Communications, Inc.

The Able Gardener” is the most interesting book I found when I started searching for “baby boomer” tips for those of us no longer able to do quite as much heavy garden work. While other books on gardening for seniors have been published in the last year or two , this one stands out because it is written by an R.N., who had, at the time the book was published, worked for 15 years for the Arthritis Institute in Santa Barbara, CA.

The author, Kathleen Yeomans, helps readers to design and work in gardens even if they are dealing with the diminishing capacities of old age, or with physical disabilities. Garden techniques can be adapted, and garden construction can be revised, making it possible to still get that sense of grounding and personal satisfaction that gardening brings, without the occasional trip to the ER, or physical overwork that can cause injury and add unnecessary stress.

The Able Gardener can tell you how to lay out a garden if you're in a wheel chair, what flowers to plant if you are visually impaired, how to limit lawn maintenance, which tools work best if you have weak hands, or can't reach or bend There are also lots of “outside the box” suggestions for re-purposing everyday items for garden use.

Elevated gardens, container gardens, and even mobile home gardens are all options. But beyond the “physically challenged” aspects of this book, there are many, many tips to help every gradener, from soil amendments and composting, to learning how to dry flowers, grow herbs, and make herb vinegar.   Ideas for making gardens less difficult to work are beneficial to everyone.

If you've given up all hope of gardening the way you used to, this book may be what you're looking for. If you don't want to spend a lot of time hunting, you can get this book at for a song.

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