One of the nice things about being an author, and by the way even after 5 and 3/4 books I still can’t quite believe I am an author, is that I get sent books to read and review.
Often these books I’m sent are pretty much of a muchness. Some regurgitated basic information on growing with irrelevant recipes thrown in at random to bulk up between the stock photos.
Being aware of the amount of effort than can go into a book I feel obliged to be as kind as I can to the author. Let’s be straight, nobody likes to read a bad review of their work, me especially.
Sometimes I’ll read a criticism and think “they’ve got a point” but most often I’m just screaming in rage “What do you want? How can you manage to write when you obviously can’t read?” and most often “No, there aren’t any pretty photographs to inspire you, you moron. It’s a manual of how to do it not something for the doctor’s waiting room”
Anyway, I digress. Some time ago my publisher asked if I wanted to write a general gardening book but I really didn’t think I could. We’ve always had a good system. I do the proper gardening of things you can eat and Val potters around growing flowery stuff that eventually finds good use in the compost heap.
Well, they found an author, Richard Rosenfield, to do it for them. Mr Rosenfield is obviously a very modest man as the title – Gardening All you need to know – would indicate. That puts my books in their place!
I assumed it would be something on the lines of how to lay out your garden, look after a lawn and what flowers to plant where and when. To be honest I thought I’d skim read it and pop a nice platitude full review up.
Well it’s not formulaic, in fact I have to wonder if Mr Rosenfield had possibly had a drink or even been smoking some strange home grown herbs at points. It’s gardening, Jim, but not as we know it. (You need to be a Trekkie to get it)
He writes three and a half pages on slugs. I mean, I know they’re a real pest and problem but three and a half pages including learned discussion of the size of various slugs’ willies and how they use them. Plus where they poo from (in the head!) and the fact that they’re deaf. Oh, and a few hints on killing the devils.
It really was quite surreal – but very entertaining. His description of how to be a nurseryman still leaves me baffled after re-reading but laughing. And we seem to share a certain contempt for TV gardening programs.
There is plenty of factual ‘how to’ information in the book, although there are one or two things I think we’d have to agree to disagree about. I can’t say it’s really all you need to know but it would get you thinking and explain some basics.
I can see many people will love this book and many will hate it with a passion. It breaks the rules, doesn’t follow the formula and it’s got a big personality. Shame there’s not more like it around.
You can get a copy from Amazon List price is £5.99