Monday, 2 March 2009

Garden the sustainable way

This delightful book arrived on my desk this morning. It's by my (old, in the nicest way) friends Rob Cross and Roger Spencer.

In one sense it's the book I was meant to write. A few years back one of our Trustees, Nigel Swinn, was encouraging us (Botanic Gardens Trust Sydney and/or me) to put out a book that showed people how to garden responsibly and to respond to the challenges of climate change in our backyards. It was a very good idea. I knew at the time that Rob and Roger were already embarking on a similar project, but I wasn't quite sure how they were approaching it.

Now we know! It's a corker of a book. A lot more detail that I had expected. It's packed with the kind of facts and figures that won't fail to impress your friends at a dinner party, or indeed the kind you need to plan a garden with a little science and common sense. In my first skim through I was intrigued by excursions into genetically modified plants (aren't they all?), exotic v. Australian plants, and even my pet topic of whether European seasons mean anything to us in Australia (although to be honest Roger had to point me to this topic when I rang him to pass on my congratulations).

But the most important, and lengthy, sections tell you everything you need to know about how our natural world works, how it is changing, and what this means for us (humans). There are lots of practical ideas for home gardening, including environmentally-friendly pest control and advice on what food to eat and grow (remember, as food-writer Michael Pollan says, 'Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.')

This isn't a book review so you'll have to buy the book to find out what else it covers, and how good it is... For me, I have to reconsider what contribution we (Botanic Gardens Trust and/or me) will make to Australia gardening and plant literature. Stay tuned.

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