Words and Pictures

THE DECKCHAIR GARDENER.

Anne Wareham (Michael O’Mara Books Ltd, £8.99)

In my little potting shed there is a kettle, toaster, radio- and a small bookcase. Between potting and sowing, I dip into the latest books, all with a gardening theme.

So, picture the scene, I’m sitting here, listening to a storm outside. The overhanging beech tree branches are beating a tune on the roof, and a there’s a howling wind which sounds like the sea. It would be easy to imagine the potting shed  perched on a cliff edge. Cold, driving sleet is thrashing the daffodils. There’s nothing more dispiriting than seeing spring flowers blown horizontal.

I’m feeling unusually glum, when our cheery postman (wearing shorts, of course) appears at the potting shed door. He’s in search of a hot cup of tea, and while he dips into the potting shed biscuit tin, I open the day’s post. And what I find is instant sunshine! Anne Wareham’s book gets us laughing from the very first page. The postman declares the Deckchair Gardener is the first gardening book ever written especially for him! I can still hear him laughing as he goes on his way. I, meanwhile, am  happily ensconced with my new book for the rest of the day.


Subtitled, An Improper Gardening Manual, Anne’s book sets out to suggest 101 “cunning stratagems”  for gardening avoidance, and sensible advice on your realistic chances of getting away with it.  I love gardening, but I’m always after short cuts and tips, and Anne has many good ideas for basically giving yourself the day off  to enjoy the garden you’ve created.

I loathe books that set out “five jobs to do today.” My heart sinks, as I’m set to fail and get behind. And there’s nothing worse than feeling the garden is getting away from you. But Anne delightfully lists “What Not to Do in Your Garden,” for spring, summer, autumn and winter. I could quite honestly kiss her.

One thing I won’t have to do now is dig the garden. Anne quotes advice from organic vegetable expert Charles Dowding on making compost, no-dig gardens and mulching. In fact mulching seems to feature quite regularly through the book as the answer to most problems. Also, I won’t sow lettuce seed every few weeks to keep the harvest coming. I’ll just pick off the outside leaves. The lettuce will apparently just keep growing through the summer. The secret is to pick, not cut the leaves, it seems.

It’s hard not to laugh at some of Anne’s mad ideas, but her book makes you think. Have I  just been doing things the same way for years and years, when there’s a better tactic? I know I am guilty  of doing daft things like growing vegetables I don’t particular like just because they are supposed to be in  a veg garden in the summer.

I am still chuckling over her tips and witty observations. And I love the gnome pictures drawn by Kate Charlesworth. So I shall be taking Anne’s advice to “accept the challenge and be brave.”

Anne describes herself as a garden maker – at Veddw, an editor of thinkingardens.co.uk and on twitter, @AnneWareham, as “trouble.” The Deckchair Gardener is available from Michael O’Mara Books  @OMaraBooks, and also as an e-book.  It would make a perfect Easter present for anyone looking to put the word “fun” back into gardening.

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30 thoughts on “Words and Pictures

  1. Hi there! I just came across this post of yours and your blog in general and I couldn’t help but comment and tell you how much I adore your blog and love this post! Keep up the great work, I am going to follow you so I can keep up with all your new posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment. With my garden I’m just at the point where everything including the weeds is going whoosh. There’s suddenly a tipping point between me being in control, and the garden taking control of me! I avidly read Anne’s ideas and have reassessed what I want to do out there- which is more mooching and sniffing the air, and less back-breaking digging. All the best. Karen

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  2. good advice, digging is the number one way to ruin the structure of the soil, cause erosion and ruinous for the back. FAO (food and agriculture organisation) is trying to teach ALL farmers not to plough (their version of digging) in the whole world. It takes years for the soil organisms to repopulate the soil if they are lost.

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    • I always think it’s mad to chop up all those lovely worms too. It’s impossible to avoid them when digging. But they do so much good, it’s a shame to accidentally kill them. I’ve noticed less slug and snail activity on the no-dig beds too. I’m a big fan of Charles Dowding. I didn’t know that about the agricultural organisation. Will research further. Thanks Christina. x

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  3. I love this—and might have to find the book!—I am a deeply lazy gardener but one who loves a beautiful garden, so it’s always been my goal to find the shortest, smoothest, pleasantest route between bare and bountiful earth. It’s a general life goal, in fact. Perhaps Ms. Wareham has stratagems that are equally applicable outside of the border bed & hedgerow!

    Great post!!
    Kathryn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kathryn. I must admit I thought the book was just a novelty at first glance. But it has substance in that the suggestions are actually sensible and common sense. I think we all get in the habit of following old gardening practices and automatically do the same thing each year, even if it is painful and unproductive. I’m re-evaluating all my gardening work now, and madly making lists of what to stop doing! I’ve realised that I love time to just stand and stare in the garden. I’m happiest mooching and just smelling all the fresh new leaves and flowers. But I have an acre of ground under cultivation. So the book arrived at just the right moment. Thanks for reading and for your kind comments. All the best. Karen x

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    • Well, I always thought it was a shame to chop up all those worms. It’s impossible to avoid them when digging, and I always felt guilty about it. So we can both breathe a sigh of relief, and just mulch instead. Hope you are both well and having a lovely Easter break. Much love, Karen x

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  4. Your postman sounds great, Karen – it’s good in a small village to be able to know your postman by name and chat to him on the doorstep (or in your potting shed!). Ours (Chris) is surprised at all the garden stuff that he delivers for me (and plants this year of course) because from the front door you don’t get a clue to the size of the garden at all and would expect it to be quite small. He needs to have a ramble round it, I think! I shall be looking out for Anne’s book so thanks for drawing it to my attention

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    • Hi Cathy. Well, nothing seems to fit through our post box, and I’m always working in the potting shed. Plus the postman knows he’s going to get a biscuit, home made cake and tea if he pops by. I think secretly he likes to have a look at the fish in the pond and a peek at what I’m growing in the greenhouse too. I’ve managed to train the parcel delivery drivers too to call round the back garden. Got a phone call today from one who’d walked all round the garden looking for me and said what a lovely spring show of tulips and daffodils. Cheered me up no end. Have a lovely Easter Cathy. Karen x

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      • Hi Cathy, hope you have had a lovely Easter. It’s been lots of cooking and family time here. Yes, I have an office at home, so I don’t have to go out in the car every day, which is lovely. I have to be quite disciplined though as it would be very easy to drift into the garden and get sidetracked. The best thing is being able to sit with the cat on my knee as I’m working. Life wasn’t always like this. I spent several years working in a place with no windows! I never knew what time of day or season it was. Makes me appreciate my current good fortune even more. Have a good week. Love Karen x

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      • I am so glad life is better for you now, Karen, even it does mean being more disciplined! An Easter w/e of jobs in the garden here – lots of titivating going on 🙂

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  5. I love the sound of your potting shed. It would make a great setting for a quirky chat show – maybe you should pitch the idea to the BBC!
    Veddw is well worth a visit if you haven’t been. On my next visit I might pick up a copy of Anne Wareham’s new book.

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    • I love the idea of a chat show in the potting shed. Maybe I could do a podcast. Who would I invite, I wonder. Hmm. Food for thought. Veddw is on my must -visit list. Thanks for reading my blog and for getting in touch. All the best. Karen

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    • I’m madly weeding- and then adding mulch, mulch, mulch. Not expecting to weed again! It’s a fun book. Made us laugh anyway. Some really good suggestions where Anne quotes Charles Dowding (no dig.) I’m managing to keep my veg and cut flower garden going with the no-dig method. It works. Thanks for reading and getting in touch. Let me know how you get on.

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