by Thalassa Cruso
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Even though it is a bit outdated, the basic advice on plant care is very applicable. Thalassa Cruso writes from her own experience gardening in her yard, so the information has its limits, but as her New England climate is similar to mine and she discusses many of the things I am trying to improve in my own yard, I found it very helpful. True, I'm mostly enthusiastic about growing vegetables right now, and Cruso only addresses that in one of the final chapters of the book, but she's given me the encouragement I need to go ahead and try some new things. She discusses all the basics, from simple landscaping design (and when to call in the experts) to making your own compost and improving the soil, successfully overwintering flowering bulbs (to get more than one season's bloom out of them), lawn care, growing hedges, establishing shrub borders, controlling weeds, managing ground covers and the essentials of gardening tools and workspace. Although her growing experiments aren't as prevelant in this book as in To Everything There is a Season, she still shares many of her mistakes and failed attempts as well as innovative ways she managed plants. I appreciated that she talks about when to simply give up on a plant, make compromises in how perfect the yard looks compared to how much work it takes, and how to find positives in negative situations you can't control.
It was interesting to see some gardening culture she brought with her from England, and her comparisons of the two climates. I didn't know, for example, that English climate is perfect for grasses, so there it's easy to have a lush, immaculate lawn. I learned the difference between a sickle and a scythe (thought I doubt I'll ever have to use either one!) and that a flame gun can be effective in controlling weeds on driveways (this seems to me more dangerous than the power tools I fear to use!) Cruso is very conscientious about the dangers of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, so she has lots of other methods for getting healthy plants using safe and practical methods. Overall, I found Making Things Grow Outdoors to be an exellent resource, and the friendly style in which it is written makes it easy to absorb all the information.
Rating: 4/5 ........ 350 pages, 1971
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