The Garden Primer

( 10 )

Overview

A 688-page volume jam-packed with practical information, advice, tips, and quirky wisdom, both basic enough for the novice and complete enough to help those with more experience improve their gardening habits, The Garden Primer leads all readers down the path to a simpler and more successful garden.

Combining easy "how-to" instruction with quirky wisdom and tried-and-true advice, the author reassuringly guides the reader through the flower garden, the decorative garden, the ...

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Overview

A 688-page volume jam-packed with practical information, advice, tips, and quirky wisdom, both basic enough for the novice and complete enough to help those with more experience improve their gardening habits, The Garden Primer leads all readers down the path to a simpler and more successful garden.

Combining easy "how-to" instruction with quirky wisdom and tried-and-true advice, the author reassuringly guides the reader through the flower garden, the decorative garden, the vegetable patch, and more. Each fully illustrated chapter is a book in itself, from planning your property and stocking the tool shed to growing perennials, annuals, roses, bulbs, vegetables, herbs, fruits, lawns & groundcover, trees, shrubs, vines, and more. Instructions are included for growing and tending approximately 300 plants. Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, the Quality Paperback Book Club, and the Better Homes & Gardens Family Book Service. 364,000 copies in print. A Regina Ryan Book.

This common sense approach to gardening covers planning your property, stocking the tool shed, growing perennials, annuals, roses, bulbs, and more.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Keep gardening simple'' is the reassuring maxim invoked by Damrosch (Theme Gardens) time and again in this outstanding compendium of garden lore, information and advice for novices and old-timers. The author, an ``old-fashioned dirt gardener,'' advocates common sense, respect for the delicate balance of nature and a hands-on approach. Her book brims with sound advice for garden planning, planting and maintenance, and her relaxed attitude about equipment ("buy a few good implements and treat them well'') and disease and pest control ("when in doubt, don't spray'') is refreshing. Ornamental plants, from vines ("willful children'') to herbs ("anarchists of the garden''), are evaluated thoughtfully, and gardeners will profit from Damrosch's manageable lists of annuals, perennials, ground covers, shrubs and trees. They will be entertained, as well, by the author's engaging, witty voice. Vegetables and fruits are discussed in mini-chapters; illustrations and an appendix of mail-order sources, etc., round out the book. BOMC and QPBC main selections; Better Homes & Gardens Book Club selection ; author tour. (Nov.)
Publishers Weekly

This comprehensive compendium of gardening facts, helpful hints and earthy advice is an unusually readable, user-friendly gardening encyclopedia. The book's first section covers the basics of what a gardener needs to get started: principles of landscape design, "What Plants Need," gardening gear and how to buy plants. Damrosch, who aims to "answer as many questions about gardening as possible," gives more than the standard instructions for making compost and buying pruning tools; she includes details like parts of plants and a comprehensive guide to botanical names that give beginning gardeners an unusually sophisticated and scientific footing. Her intimate, up-to-date, down-to-earth writing is distinctly rooted in the garden, with humor born of experience: "A garden hose is like a lover that you can't live with and can't live without. No scientific advance, to my knowledge, has yet tamed its willful nature." With sections on annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, fruits, bulbs, lawns, trees and even houseplants, to name a few, and with specifics for individual plants in each section, this book will be a useful addition to the collections of seasoned gardeners as well as novices. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Beginning gardeners can be overwhelmed by the vast amount of printed information available. Damrosch offers a comprehensive book for the new gardener that clearly explains the basics of garden planning, plant care, and equipment. Detailed chapters on the different categories of plants--annuals, perennials, vegetables, fruits, lawns, shrubs, roses, vines, trees, wildflowers, and even house plants--give general advice on how to use and care for these varieties. A valuable book for public libraries.-- Peter C. Leonard, Mt. Lebanon P.L., Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761122753
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/14/2008
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 820
  • Sales rank: 150,973
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Damrosch is one of the nation's most respected garden experts and writers. She is the author of Theme Gardens and The Garden Primer and writes a weekly column for The Washington Post called "A Cook’s Garden." She appeared as a regular correspondent on the PBS series The Victory Garden, and co-hosted the series Gardening Naturally for The Learning Channel. She is the co-owner, with her husband, Eliot Coleman, of Four Season Farm, an experimental market garden in Harborside, Maine, that is a nationally recognized model of small-scale sustainable agriculture.

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Read an Excerpt

Green Side Up

I firmly believe that in order to learn anything you have to be willing to ask dumb questions. A lot of people say to me, "I don't know anything about gardening," and some of them just let it go at that. Intimidated by the sheer volume of gardening lore they find around them, much of it very scientific and arcane, they leave gardening to those who presumably have lots of time to read and better yet, have a "green thumb." But others, unable to resist a pastime they suspect may be a lot of fun, wade right in. I love people who ask things like "What is mulch?" and "What part of the plant do you stick in the ground?"

The aim of this book is to answer as many elementary questions about gardening as possible. I may not be able to anticipate everything you want to ask, but I will explain to you how pruning can make your plants bushier, more compact or more fruitful. I will tell you that muclh is a layer of material such as shredded bark that you lay down on the ground chiefly to keep weeds from growing and to keep the soil moist. And I will try to come to your aid when you are standing there alone in the garden, holding a plant that looks like an amorphous tangle, and you have no idea what to do with it. If I could go out into the garden with you I would tell you what my friends Mary Ann and Frederick McGourty, professional growers, tell their fledging workers: "Plant it with the green side up." Everyone has to start somewhere.

I am the first to admit I have my own idiosyncratic approach when it comes to gardening and garden knowledge. Someone once called me an "old-fashioned dirt gardener," and I guess the description fits. I use relatively few commercial fertilizers and almost no pesticides. I prefer hand tools to power ones. I like to take cues from the way nature gardens, and also from the gardens of the past. I read as much as I can about scientific advances in horticulture and I'm usually willing to try something new; but I must say that most of what I do when I garden has come from just plain experience. There is no substitute for spending time in your garden and using all your senses to judge what is going on there. Are your plants' leaves a healthy green? Does your soil feel porous and fluffy when you stick your fingers into it? Does your sick plant have bugs on it or is there evidence of disease? Far more gardens fail because the gardener is absent or not paying attention than because he or she lacks erudition. Yes, you need to know your ABCs, but the more you garden, the more you will know what works and what doesn't and what problems to look for.

One of the hazards of writing a gardening book is that the author is addressing gardeners in many different localities with many different climates, soil types and selections of plants to choose from. The more exact the information I give you, the less accurately it may pertain to the specific conditions of your very own yard. I have to tell you what to add to your soil, for example, without knowing what is already in it. I have tried, therefore, to steer away from formulas, though there are times when saying "Add some fertilizer" is not enough. ("Should I add a spoonful or a bucketful?" I hear you asking.) So use my recommendations as a starting point, and try to learn as much as you can about you own garden's needs. Local resources such as nurseries, universities and the Cooperative Extension Service can be very helpful.

You will find most of the general information about gardening in the first four chapters of this book; the rest deals with specific kinds of plants and how to grow them. Use the book by going back to the early chapters if you need to have one of the basic questions answered. The index will help you if a cross-reference does not steer you to the answer at just the point when you need it.

Gardening, for all its down-to-earthness, has always had some mystery about it, a mystery that each culture had its own ways of expressing. In ancient times you might have a village maiden dance around the fire to impress the corn god, or you might make a burnt offering of the harvest to thank the deity that made it all possible. Now we do soil tests, take clones and even try to become gods ourselves in our quest to create new genetic plant material. But try as we may, I don't think we will ever shed so much light on gardening that we dampen the awe a gardener feels when the first vegetable seedlings start to come up in spring. We may never explain things like why we are attracted to flowers just as butterflies and bees are, even though normally we have no role in their pollination. Perhaps their form and fragrance are somehow luring us to some fateful role in their survival. I don't think we'll ever know all there is to know about gardening, and I'm just as glad there will always be some magic about it.

So just go out there and start doing it. It is often said that a green thumb is a dirty thumb. Choose good spots for your gardens, prepare the soil well, keep a close eye on things. And remember, the green side is always up.

Excerpted from The Garden Primer. Copyright (c) 1999. Reprinted with permission by Workman Publishing.

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Table of Contents

Greenside Up

Planning Your Property

What Plants Need

Gardening Gear

How to Buy Plants

Annuals

Perennials

Vegetables

Herbs

Fruits

Bulbs

Roses

Lawns and Ground Covers

Vines

Shrubs

Trees

Wildflowers

Houseplants

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2009

    The Garden Primer

    Excellent book, very good reference material and sound adavice

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    Get some dirt under your fingernails!

    This book gives lots of information and inspiration for new and experienced gardeners. It made me wish it would hurry up and stop raining!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Guide for All Gardeners

    This book contains a wealth of information about many different types of gardens, lawns, and plants. However, it is not overwhelming for beginners! Great organization, full of tried and true techniques and advice, and witty commentary. A must-have for every home gardener. The illustrations are not bad, but I would love more illustrations and color photos in future editions of this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 6, 2008

    Can't Say Enough Good Things - I Keep Giving Mine Away, it's SO Good For Both New and Experienced Gardeners

    Barbara teaches us the basics - "think like a plant" - in a gentle, funny and convivial tone. I miss not having it around - I keep giving my current copy away to friends who express an interest in gardening. I went online to try to find another copy and ended up compelled to add my own review. I have a small suburban yard and Barbara has helped me bring it a level of usefulness and beauty that is immensely satisfying. I wish she were my friend in fact and not just through her pages!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2008

    Comprehensive Garden Guide

    Barbara Damrosch is a self-confirmed 'old-fashioned dirt gardener.' And, she's does organic gardening to boot. This book is a comprehensive, easily understood guide to all aspects of gardening it even includes a chapter on houseplants. I like that Damrosch prefers hand tools over power tools. And, that she uses her hands to pull weeds at times. The chapter on 'what plants need,' was terrific--covers the basics and gave me a firm understanding of what plants require to thrive. The book contains all you need to grow annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, trees, shrubs and vines. Indispensable! from the author of the award winning book, Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify and Energize Your Life, Your Home and Your Planet

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2006

    Great Reference

    This is a great resource. It has a little bit about so many things, both overall tips and plant specific tips. I lost this book in a house fire last year. I'd just moved into a colder zone and struggled without my 'gardening bible'. I use it all the time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2001

    Best gardening book around!

    If you are looking for beautiful color photographs, this book is not for you. HOWEVER, if you want a resouce book that you will constantly use year after year and one where the explanations and instructions are easy to follow, this is THE book. Sound advice, common sense approach to gardening, with thorough explanations about procedures to follow. Have many gardening books and this is the one in which I always find the answers!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2012

    I love this book!

    Very informative and fun to read. I want to plant everything she writes about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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