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The Plant Listener by Julie C Kilpatrick

The cover states “The theory behind some of our best horticultural practices” which makes it sound like a dry, academic work. Well horticultural lecturer Julie Kilpatrick has a novel, engaging and readable way of bringing her subject to life.

The Plant Listener by Julie C KilpatrickFor example one of the sections is about the reproductive strategies and methods used by plants. Which would sound about as exciting as watching paint dry! Instead the section is called “Sex on the Brain”. Well the title alone grabs your interest.

She covers some quite technical concepts in an enjoyable way you can relate to and understand. Understanding the processes and mechanisms that control how plants grow is very useful for the gardener.

The Plant Listener starts at the beginning with the evolution of plants, then the many ways plants reproduce themselves before moving on to how new plants grow. Next she turns to the sun and light before covering water and watering. She finishes, logically, with death and the lifespan of plants.

There’s a nice simple piece on composting in this section. Composting being a topic that I believe is frequently made overly complex, it’s good to read straightforward information on the topic.

General Knowledge for Specific Problems

All that general knowledge can be applied to individual situations, solving your problems even if you don’t know the name of the plant. There is some specific advice as well on methods such as how to propagate from cuttings. Once you’ve read the whole book, not only will you know what to do but why to do it.

I’d suggest you read this book as a whole and then keep it on the shelf as a reference. That way you can dip back in when you have a problem and need to refresh your memory. I do feel that reading this book will make you a better gardener. They say knowledge is power and this book is empowering.

Paperback, 300 pages with a handy index at the end.