If you buy only one book this year, make it Fearless Gardening

 There are a lot of things you can give a gardener for the holidays—from the humorous to the practical—but what's better than inspiration in the form of a book? I'm a big fan of books, the old-fashioned printed kind, and I love giving and receiving them. Fortunately for all us, there seems to be no shortage of books relating to gardens, gardening, and plants. Just a take a look at Amazon's landing page for Gardening & Landscape Design

For better or for worse, there are so many books out there, it can be downright difficult to choose. I'll have a separate post soon with some recommendations, but let's jump right to the top of my list. If you buy only one gardening-related book this year, make it Fearless Gardening by Loree Bohl.

Fearless Gardening won't officially come out until January 5, 2021so you can't give it as physical gift for the holidays. But you could make up a gift certificate for your favorite gardening friends and relatives. That way they'd start out the new year with a book chock full of garden inspiration.

Many of you know Loree Bohl from her wildly popular blog, danger garden. Fearless Gardening, Loree's first book, distills everything Loree has learned in her own garden and from visiting countless other gardens over the years. Her own experience and the inspiration she has drawn from others merge into the gardening manifesto she presents in this book.

I'll have a more detailed review of Fearless Gardening closer to its January 5 publication date, but I wanted to give you a first look ahead of time.

Loree starts by sharing what she learned from two fearless women who, over the space of decades, followed their own intensely personal vision to create gardens that have become destinations for visitors from all over the world: Ruth Bancroft (Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, California) and Ganna Walska (Lotusland, Montecito, California). Loree calls them “my gardening mentors, if only in spirit.”

Loree then debunks eight common “commandments,” giving gardeners license to throw off the mental shackles that often prevent them from creating the garden that exists in their head. 

The second chapter, “Create a Garden You Love,” is arguably the most important in the book. “If your garden doesn’t bring you joy, what’s the point?,” Loree asks and continues: “It sounds so simple, but sometimes we forget that pleasing ourselves is reason enough to do something.”

This is the core message of Fearless Gardening: It's your garden. You can do whatever makes you happy. You don't need to justify your choices to anybody else. Or, as Loree puts it: “When you garden for yourself, creating your own personal vision of paradise, you’re free to plant petunias in old tires and surround your cactus with white gravel.”

The next chapter, “Explore the Possibilities,” presents a number of ideas that help you make your vision come to life. This ranges from more general suggestions like growing tender plants as annuals and turning obstacles into advantages, to specific techniques such as vertical gardening and crevice gardens.

Throughout the book, “Garden Visit” interludes showcase gardens that epitomize the message described in a given section.

The next chapters, “Expand Your Options with Containers,” “Grow the Unexpected,” and “Hardy Plant Choices & Fool-the-Eye Alternatives,” present myriad ideas of creating just the kind of garden you've always wanted but weren't sure was possible. Practical tips help you solve common problems, like how to protect plants in the winter.

In the last chapter, “Inspiring Garden Profiles,” Loree shows us seven gardens, public and private, that “demonstrate the concepts discussed on the previous pages. Taken together, they’re meant to challenge assumptions, while inspiring you and your approach to gardening.” 

The last of these six gardens is Loree's own, the very aptly titled “danger garden” (in lower-case, Loree points out, “so as not to be too threatening”). The ”danger” part refers to the spiky plants Loree is so fond of and the related potential for physical injury, but in my mind, it means something else: This garden is dangerous because after you've seen it, you might rethink everything you've done in your own garden. Before you know it, you're on a journey that transforms how you look at gardens and gardening. 

That's why I want to end this post with a warning: Read Fearless Gardening at your own risk. When you're done, you may not be the same. 

Fearless Gardening will be published by Timber Press on January 5, 2021. It's available for preorder at all the usual places, including your local bookstore. If you prefer Amazon, here's the direct link.

Disclaimer: I'm not only a big fan of the danger garden, I'm also a personal friend of Loree's and read an early manuscript of the book. Everything I say about the danger garden, Loree, and Fearless Gardening is heart-felt, sincere, and utterly and unapologetically subjective.

All photos and content from Fearless Gardening shown in this blog post is © 2021 by Loree Bohl and/or other copyright holders. All rights reserved.

© Gerhard Bock, 2020. All rights reserved. No part of the materials available through www.succulentsandmore.com may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without prior written consent of Gerhard Bock. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Gerhard Bock is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States and international copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Gerhard Bock. If you are reading this post on a website other than www.succulentsandmore.com, please be advised that that site is using my content without my permission. Any unauthorized use will be reported.


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