A city garden need not be a dusty square of cracked concrete and a few scraggy bushes struggling against giant weeds. In the book to accompany a major new Channel 4 gardening series, Matt James – The City Gardener – leads a call to arms for urbanites everywhere: 'Green the city, hide the flat, featureless grey!'
With space ever more difficult and expensive to come by in our cities today, people are starting to realise how that plot out the back – or that balcony, or that rooftop – should be seen as an extra room in its own right. A space that with a little effort and the right know-how can be transformed into a lush, green oasis of calm: a space to relax away from hectic city life; a space to entertain friends; where kids can play safely; where you can explore your creative side, recover the link with nature and bring the pace of life in the country to the town.
Matt knows the difficulties of an urban garden – limited space, limited time, limited cash – and the book is crammed full with creative design and planting ideas developed from his professional experience working in London. An extensive directory recommends plants that thrive in urban conditions and identifies those it is best not to waste your money on. There are chapters on maximising space through the use of different levels, heights and 'rooms'; combating noise, pollution and eyesores; using trees for instant architecture and privacy; and achieving the 'gardenless' garden with window boxes, pots and trellises. The book will also show you that it's not just the farmers who can go organic, with tips throughout on chemical-free gardening and a section on growing a 'kitchen' garden which brings the allotment to the back door.
The City Gardener takes a refreshing attitude towards gardening that will be sure to energise a new generation of green-fingered city dwellers: chuck out the rule book, don't worry about monster earthworks and building expensive 'features' – just get to know and love the things that really matter in a garden: the plants!
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Would-be celebrity gardeners are popping up all over the place now that gardening is the new whatever-the-last-thing-was. You can spot them by the look-at-me TV series and the accompanying book. Among the latest hopefuls in search of an unoccupied niche is The City Gardener, Matt James, whose outstanding characteristic as a gardener is that he lacks a garden. Disarmingly, he confesses at the outset that his personal garden real estate is limited to a small balcony. But of course this is the whole point. City gardening has always been about making do with what little you've got, about ameliorating minimal and unsympathetic spaces and sour, bricky soil (if you're lucky). Matt James goes about his business with the enthusiasm of the first-time author. A Preamble Round the Garden lays out the basic premises--gardening must really be about pleasure or it's not about anything; and throw away the rule book--and he's off. The body of the book is crammed (literally--the designer has opted for a crowded layout and an annoyingly hard to read typeface) with advice on adapting awkward spaces, choosing and placing plants, hiding unwanted features, and so on. It concludes with profiles of a selection of plants chosen for their suitability in the town garden. The many photographs feature the photogenic James quite intensively, sometimes gardening (obviously in somebody else's garden), sometimes sitting around looking shyly at the camera. There's probably nothing here that you won't find in other gardening books, but urban gardeners will relish a book that addresses with energy and conviction precisely the challenges they face. -- Robin DavidsonReview:
“May inspire the most unlikely horticulturalists to take to their barren patch of earth with grand ideas of Yorkshire-stone paving and pergolas in the claps of amorous vines.”
- The Guardian
“utterly accessible and full of sound advice for the complete beginner… you’ll soon be set to create a piece of heaven in Hackney or Hulme, without a Titchmarsh -style cardigan in sight”
- Heat ****
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