You can tell when I've found books useful. The inside pages at the front are home to sellotaped articles culled from magazines or newspapers. Recipes in the case of cookery books, and - with 'The Thrifty Gardener - print cuttings from Ms Fowler's Guardian column as well as pieces by Dan Pearson and an inspiring story about a green, ridiculously arty couple's drive to be self sufficient.
I find 'The Thrifty Gardener' immensely comforting. One of those books you can return to time and time again for practical help and that bit of romance that the best gardening books have. By romance I mean the love of growing and seeing plants develop, buds appear, flowers bloom, ferns unfurl, bumble bees and birds inhabit your garden. Gardens are inherently magical places, and gardeners who can communicate this are to be cherished.
I love the fact that 'The Thrifty Gardener' actually understands that being thrifty means 'not having much money to spend'. Well - durr! - some of you might think. But some books make out they're gardening (or cooking or sewing etc) on a budget, but feature things that're obviously expensive. Look how you can whip up a cheap curry at home, but first buy a dozen jars of spices in order to make it. Why not use cheap, unbleached calico to run up a pair of curtains, like in this photo where we've used ten metres of the stuff, plus a snazzy ribbon trim from V V Rouleaux. Or why not create a wonderful back garden by buying a large fruit tree, several mid sized shrubs, a dozen trays of perennials, a shed-load of spring bulbs ... blah blah blah.
Alys Fowler shows you how to build your own wormery or cold frame, how to grow successfully from seed, how to propagate, to make compost, to use up old wine boxes or CD racks as planters, and much more. Everything's explained clearly and the book's nicely set out, good as a practical book as well as pleasing for a bout of armchair gardening.
The book's been out for several years, so it's cheap to buy second hand. You can also find some really useful videos by Alys Fowler on YouTube. Very worthwhile viewing.
This is another of Pavilion's good looking books. It's sub-titled 'an inspirational guide to allotments and community gardens' and features a wide range of spaces, from traditional style veg plots to ones based on permaculture principles or used to grow natural dyes or provide a creative spark for an artist. There's a skip garden (literally a garden in a builders skip), a roof garden and an organic community orchard among the places featured.
I love the mix of people - young & old, from various ethnic backgrounds - all united by a love of growing things. It's a great book for browsing, and you don't need to be an allotmenteer or involved in a community project to get lots from this book. I was particularly taken by the Brussels edible garden which provided food for the gardener's bees. How I'd love my own hive!
Moved from a garden-less city flat in the South West to a Yorkshire village in 2016. I now have a garden ... of sorts.