|Wishing all our readers and blog followers a happy holiday|
Today – the Solstice – so it’s now officially Winter, when the night (or hours of darkness) far outstrips
those of daytime. Today is so benign yet the ground is far too soggy to work
out of doors. Wet is oozing out of the orchard grass, mud clogs the feet of the
hens. But it’s the festive season too, and for many the start of an extended holiday –
maybe a time for a quiet read in snatched moments.
|A favourite haunt for hunting down rather special books on gardening|
It’s at this time of year that
I re-organise my gardening books, notebook in hand – I always mean to catalogue
them all but as they ‘move’ around it would take forever. Books litter our house,
are stacked on shelves, lie on tables or the floor, sit on stairs. Favourites
of course, and newcomers. And I cannot pass a good bookshop without browsing in
the gardening section. Will something tempt me? (It usually does!) We are all
urged to support independent bookshops (I particularly love those with a seating area and a tiny café offering home-made treats), but also one cannot fault Amazon for
their ‘Prime’ service. As a writer, speed is of the essence and for me, living
some distance from town, to have a book in my hands within 24 hours of ordering online is essential.
|Some current reading and research|
New or old, there will always
be favourites; titles one turns to time and time again. I acquire more than
I discard through charity shops (I once had to buy back one I had thrown out by
mistake!) or by recycling them as ‘altered art’. Books currently on my desk for
pleasure and research, or because they continually inspire me, include all the
ones in the pile above, plus the following oldies which I am working my way
through of an evening for fresh inspiration.
‘Veg – the greengrocer’s cookbook’ by
Gregg Wallace is perfect for anyone new to growing veg, although it is not for
gardeners! As well as presenting TV shows and writing about food, Gregg began
his food-related career running a successful fruit and veg stall in south
London’s Borough Market. He believes in using food in season and sourcing
locally, a philosophy that shines through his writing and his methods of
preparing fresh produce when at their very best. Forget the celebrity hype and
snide reviews, this book is worthy of being on the cook’s bookshelf. Published
in 2006 by Mitchell Beazley.
‘The Complete New Herbal’ edited by
Richard Mabey is another golden oldie which I acquired in 1988. Published by an
imprint of Penguin Books, it was described then as a ‘new herbal for the modern
age’. It’s a practical guide to herb applications in everyday life and the
identifying photos are as stunning today as they were then. A book you can
trust and a good companion for anyone who is interested in the herbal
properties of wild plants for medicinal or culinary purposes.
‘Bringing a Garden to Life’ offers a
topical and realistic approach to gardening for wildlife, whether you live in
the centre of London, on the outskirts of Leeds, or in idyllic rural
Herefordshire. Or anywhere between. Written by incomparable plant ecologist
Jenny Steel and published in 2006 by Wiggly Wigglers, it explains
step-by-step just how simple it is
to bring wildlife into any plot, to the benefit of all else that grows.
And back to food: ‘a taste of theunexpected’ by Mark Diacono is a book for today’s changing climate and the most
recently published of today’s selection (in 2010, by Quadrille Books). Amongst
other activities, Mark runs Otter Farm in Devon, home to orchards of olives,
peaches, almonds and apricots, forest garden, vineyards and vegetable patch. So
his tips on growing, harvesting, preparing and eating the sort of produce
varieties that are increasingly becoming available from Dobies of Devon, could
not be more appropriate.
Don’t forget as your read and make notes to keep
re-visiting the Dobies website for latest special offers on seeds, plants and
Labels: bookshelf, bookshop, Celebrations, cook books, wildlife, winter solstice