Book Review: Tough Plants for Tough Places by Sharon Amos and Why We Garden by Claire Masset

I was very interested in reviewing these two new books as they appealed to different sides of gardening that I care about.  One is about plants - of course I love any good book about plants, and the other is about thinking about gardening: about why we love it, its history and philosophy and more.

I have not paid for these books, I have not been paid to write these reviews and my words and opinions are my own.

Tough Plants for Tough Places by Sharon Amos
We all have those parts of our gardens that are more difficult to garden than others.  That shady dry bit, that blisteringly hot sunny bit, that soggy bit that chalk-soiled bit, if we are lucky we only have one problem spot; if we are less lucky our whole garden is a problem spot.  This new book from Sharon Amos helps with all these troublesome areas.  This is not just a plant catalogue, Sharon starts by helping us understand our gardens starting with the basics of knowing what type of soil we have.  If we understand our conditions than that will help us not make choices that make gardening difficult for us.

Gardens also have microclimates and Sharon explains these to us.  Depending on the aspect of our gardens will depend on where the sun shines and shade falls.  We might be in a windy spot, we might have a frost pocket.  Sharon talks us through various issues and how we can work with them and where possible improve them.  

The remainder of the book is a plant directory that is in sections of sun, shade, dry, damp, exposed and seaside.  It is not just about which plant, but how to position it and care for it.  

I think this is a brilliant book and a great addition to any gardener's bookshelf whether they be a beginner or experienced.  The advice in the book is good and understandable.  The choices of plants suggested are guaranteed to inspire.

Why We Garden by Claire Masset
This is a lovely little book, I know that calling it lovely is probably the wrong term and yet I read it and just thought it was lovely.  Claire tells us that there are many reasons for us not to garden: it is hard work, it is time-consuming and, she says, even a little degrading (that might be the manure spreading.....) so this books gives us the balance as to why we garden, why we love it so much.

Each themed chapter starts with a quotation which is the basis that Claire works outwards from.  So the chapter called Beauty starts with a quotation from Monet.  The chapter on Therapy has a quotation from Barney Bardsley and the chapter on Growth starts with my favourite gardening quotation from Gertrude Jekyll "The garden is a grand teacher......"  

What I particularly like about this book is that it is quite a personal book, Claire is talking to us about how she feels about the different aspects she covers and how they can relate to us too.  This book is beautifully illustrated throughout; it is a good book to dip into and you will soon find that one chapter leads into another and you have read it all.  

This book would make a thoughtful gift to a gardening friend or relative, or one to buy yourself for a treat.  

Take care and be kind.

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