Book Review by Richard Davies
A century ago, everyone knew the basics of gardening. Well, not everyone, but most of the people you met would know the secrets we gardeners take years to find. One of those secrets is that gardens can heal. No, I’m not talking about medicinal herbs, but they can heal the soul. Mother Nature can bring new life back to a person. My Garden Doctor is a re-telling of an out-of-print novel about an invalid that brought herself out of her illness as she transformed a wild canvas back into a beauty of nature. I related to this story as my garden has always been a way to recharge both my mind and body. I loved the characters, especially Stephen, the quirky handy man who was so in tune with nature that nobody understood him as industrial farming diverged from nature, as well as, Clarky, the no-nonsense nurse who instilled great gardening knowledge in Miss Caroline
Although this isn’t like Patricia’s award winning books on lasagna gardening, it is a great piece of literature where gardening is as much the protagonist as Miss Caroline. There is something to be said about patterning your garden the way nature intended it. Using companion planting to ward off harmful insects and improve growing is the way Mother Nature planned it, rather than the chemicals used in industrial farming. Stephen and the book are big on that, and so are many of us who look for organic ways to grow. The book even talks about bringing in long-forgotten techniques such as cold-frame gardening. To think, nearly a century later cold frames made from scrap lumber and old storm windows were a lost art. It is amazing that nearly all the tried and true methods of gardening are new again as we search out the best way to do something on the internet.
This book is full of such common sense approaches used to help nature, not detract from it. Ah, to live in such a place with land to grow at the foot of majestic hills unscathed by industry. If Patricia Lanza hadn’t fallen in love with this book and convinced her publishers to allow her to retell the story, we would never have the chance to take the subtle lessons and use them in our own lives and gardens. This is definitely a great read if you’re struggling or just waiting out the winter.
Richard Davies gardens in the Seattle area (Zone 8b). At 37, I hope to improve the variety and quality of the food my family eats. My 5 and 2 year olds and I are excited to grow food for our family all year long and work to eat better. Along the way, I hope to learn all I can about vegetable gardening and pass along the knowledge to future generations. Enjoy your garden!
Visit his blog at: http://ft2garden.powweb.com/sinfonian/
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