Despite the best efforts of parents to turn my fingers green when I was younger, I can’t garden. There just seems to be a fundamental concept that I can’t grasp. Oh sure, ask me to put a plant that’s already grown into the ground, and I will do it all day long (and, on occasion, I have). But actually persuading something to emerge from the soil, entirely at my bidding? That’s unknown territory: some kind of voodoo involving more than five minutes’ work, I suspect. My recent attempt at growing radishes on my windowsill resulted in a single hopeful seedling, which gasped desperately for sunlight, water and a knowledgeable owner; unfortunately I could only provide two of these things. After a few weeks I thought ‘there must be a radish under there by now’ and unceremoniously plucked it from the pot. There were no radishes. I had planted 18 seeds.
Traditionally the Easter weekend is a time when, instead of relaxing or spending time with their loved ones, people embark on staggeringly ambitious DIY or gardening projects (accompanied by copious amounts of alcohol due to it being a FOUR DAY WEEKEND). Gazebo-building! Pond-dredging! Rockery creation! Filling in the holes from last year’s attempted rockery! These are all wholesome family activities, even though they often result in the kind of permanent structural damage that can only really be repaired by professionals. Despite the risks of tipsy lawnmowing and such, many of us do not seem to learn, and will return to the backyard battleground once again this year.
We’ve had a rummage through our backlist to find some gardening titles to help you through the green minefield: first up is Ed Rosenthal’s Protect Your Garden, which provides tips on how to deal with common garden problems such as disease, pests and nutrient imbalance (the plant kind, not the had-to-much-roast-dinner kind).
Next is Melinda Joy Miller’s Shamanic Gardening which provides insights and historical facts about the gardens of ancient Asia, and how they can be applied not just to your garden, but to your whole way of living.
In a similar vein, although perhaps a little more fiddly, is Create Your Own Japanese Garden by Motomi Oguchi – practical tips for creating your own Zen paradise; which you might need after a weekend with the relatives…
If you’re lucky enough to have green fingers already, you might be planting some vegetables over Easter – but what to do with them? If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, why not try cooking raw? Lisa Montgomery’s Raw Garden contains dozens of recipes designed for quick and healthy cooking, along with some more unusual suggestions that are nevertheless tantalisingly tasty.
And finally, if you’re really pushed for space, why not take heart from The Little Book of Little Gardens by Steve Wheen, the Banksy of guerrilla gardening. The self-styled ‘Pothole Gardener’ plants bright flowers in drab corners of London: potholes, roadside verges and industrial estates, which creates a haven for wildlife and brightens people’s day in the process. So if you’re not quite up to building a gazebo this weekend, you could always brighten up your neighbourhood with some sneaky flower-planting! Hopefully these books will set you on the right path to a happy weekend of pottering.
And if you will insist on dragging the lawnmower out, just remember: don’t drink and mow.
Find more gardening books here
Find your way to Easter zen here