This is a great time of year for gardening books. Publishers seem to know that we’re all hungry for spring and help us bide the time with book after book of delicious garden books. Beginners Illustrated Guide to Gardening by Katie Elzer-Peters definitely fits the bill. If you have decided that this is the year you will finally figure out this new fandangled gardening thing, Katie’s book is a great choice to help guide you.
Katie has a degree in horticulture and many years of experience working in public gardens. Her knowledge and ability to teach others shines through on every page of this book. She is never preachy, just matter-of-fact with the information you need to know. For example, she doesn’t tell you there is only one way to stake or cage your floppy plants. She gives you the pros and cons for each and suggestions for when one method might be better than the other.
The book’s design and graphics are nothing short of brilliant. the good stuff begins right away in the “Introduction” and “What You Need” chapters that are full of colorful line drawings and photos explaining everything from the parts of plants, flowers, and seeds to which clippers are used for different tasks.
The next part is tabbed with red edges clearly explains to newbie gardeners how to navigate around a garden center, read a plant tag, understand seed packets, decipher a hardiness zone map, figure out fertilizer, and choose healthy plants. Again, I don’t think I can stress this enough, the graphics are so gosh darn cool. After looking at these images and reading Katie’s advice, an alien from outer space would understand how to garden on Earth.
The following chapters are all tabbed with a different color, making it quick and simple to get to the right part. Part Two is blue and covers gardening basics like seed starting and how to correctly water plants. Part Three is about lawn care and is appropriately tabbed in green. Part Four is purple and covers trees and shrubs; how to buy them, plant them, prune them, and fix tree and shrub problems. Part Five is yellow and about flowers, both annuals and perennials, sun plants and shade plants. Part Six is about vegetables and is carrot orange. Finally, Part Seven is brown and discusses finishing touches like mulching and adding containers to your patio.
Peppered throughout the book are “Just Grow With It” blurbs with helpful tips on things like where to cut when you’re pruning your rose bush or suggested plants for attracting butterflies. These are often next to a related project, which are always depicted with step by step photos and instructions, as well as a supplies list.
All-around, Beginners Illustrated Guide to Gardening is a fantastic book!