Saturday, 1 October 2011

Books for Enthusiastic DIY Gardeners

We plan our Dobies newsletter and blog topics three months in advance - something we will be changing for October to December, because what we intend to write about frequently needs to change, as weather or other circumstances dictate. This last post for September (yes, it should have been written yesterday) is one such, for the culmination of the summer season and this last post for 'handyman / woman in the garden month' is to be on books for the enthusiastic DIY gardener. And with the glorious unseasonably hot weather we are having right now, who wants to think of reading? So save what follows for a rainy day - four titles to set the creative juices working - click on the highlighted links to take you to the online Amazon bookshop for more details.

'Concrete Garden Projects' is both fascinating and highly practical. Written by Swedish designers Malin Nilsson & Camilla Ardvisson and just published by Timber Press, it offers exceptionally clear, illustrated instructions on making inexpensive containers, furniture, water features and more. You would not believe that a product that has existed since Roman times could be so beautiful - and all you basically need are shaped bowls or similar to act as formers, cooking oil to brush onto the moulds so the hardened concrete will release easily, a bag of ready-mixed dry concrete, water, and protective gloves. Once started, why not make some of the projects as Christmas gifts?

'Build it! ... With Pallets' by farmer Joe Jacobs (published by The Good Life Press) is equally intriguing. All you need to make some useful - and recycled - items for the garden (chairs, tables, fences, gates, planters, compost bins, chicken coops and many other functional items) are basic DIY skills, plus some discarded wooden pallets and standard woodworking tools. Take the pallets apart carefully, and re-fashion them into some of the artefacts suggested by Joe, following his measurements and instructions, or devise your own.

Maybe you have begun keeping a hand-made garden journal or scrapbook to record your sowing and harvesting but are unhappy with the quality of your writing. Take a look at 'The Scrapbooker's Handwriting Workshop' by Crystal Jeffrey Rieger. Published in 2009 by F&W Media, it's really clever in its concept - a spiral-bound stand-up flip-over PRACTICE book - not meant to be read, as such, but to be worked in. Twenty unique hand-lettered alphabets (fonts) are provided with very clear instructions as to how each letter should be formed. It's as just like being back at school, but more fun!

Finally, for those who want to be creative in the garden with plants rather than DIY, take a look at an old favourite by Joy Larcom. 'Creative Vegetable Gardening' was first published by Mitchell Beazley in 1997 but has been re-issued many times since then. Joy has always been queen of the potager and this book takes vegetable gardening one stage further - veg to eat but to look beautiful as well, with so many design ideas, and workable suggestions for dramatic effects, texture, colour, intercropping, climbers, fruit for ornament as well as eating, and overall potager management.

Your new 2012 Dobies catalogue should be with you in the coming week; and is packed full of delights and surprises. 

2 comments:

  1. Obviously have the Joy Larkcom book, and the Build It With Pallets is one of Howard's bedside books, festooned with those bookmark sized post-it notes. I've often suggested he should start writing a companion volume - Coathanger Technology, featuring all sorts of ways to re-use the kind of wire coathangers you get from the dry cleaners.

    That said, our most successful garden projects have been the planters made from old Ikea pine shelving. Still waiting for the cold frame from the corner shelf pieces though....

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  2. Oh, the projects that await completion - or even beginning! And I have abetter way to bookmark pages - 'Avery Note Tabs'. Absolutely brilliant: my life revolves now around Note-Tabbed diaries and journals (I just have to find the relevant notebook first!)

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