Amazon smile link currently £12.99 for hardback.
Over the last few years I have put a lot of work into gardening with children. The benefits of outdoor learning and engaging in nature are well documented so I won’t cover it again. I have also kept a number of house plants in the classroom. My bonsai sadly passed on through neglect during my paternity, but a number of others have thrived. I have developed a greater interest in bringing greenery and gardening indoors and over a couple of blogs I’d like to look at a few sources of information starting with a book review.
I bought this little book in the July Kindle monthly sale for 99p. While kindle isn’t my favoured format for gardening books at 99p I thought I’d take a gamble. Holly Farrell has written a number of small guides for the RHS over the last few years: Gardening for mindfullness, minature garden grower and plants from pips. She has also written about jam and growing fruit for cakes. The little RHS books are little introductory books to subjects.
This book introduces you to the basic principles of house plants such as dealing with microclimates, selecting the right plants for the right room and things to watch out for. It presents a number of the current trends for presenting your plants. There is basic advice on buying plants, selecting suitable pots, watering, tools, and compost. It has overviews of some care overtime such as repotting, supports and how to create specific presentations.
The chapter on presentation covers: terrariums, kokedama, hanging gardens, Christmas displays, a child’s sensory garden, an edible kitchen wall, greening your desk space and other projects. This section is probably the weakest with a number of the sections reading as if she isn’t writing from experience. The terrarium section for example talks about being able to make one from a container as small as a testtube. But I don’t know how many houseplants you can manage that small, readily available that aren’t going to outgrow a container that small. The suggestions of terrarium plants are sensible enough, but I get the feeling something created following the advice here would gain the wrath of Wong and deadplants in six weeks. Read here for more terranium mistakes. Article 1. Article 2. Kokedama are something I’d like to have a go at making, but this doesn’t go into enough detail to feel I could manage it. This is really the weakest chapter as none of it leaves you quite satisfied that you have enough detail or it doesn’t feel like it comes from someone who has enough experience to advise.
The chapter on staying alive offers practical advice on keeping the plants alive. It deals with watering and feeding and practical issues such as going on holiday. It offers a good quick overview of each task.
The book finishes with plant files. It describes a number of common houseplants giving you a basic profile of hardiness, type of plant and height and spread. It then splits them into locations and types: sunny spots, succulents, bright spots, orchids, shady and humid spots, bright and humid spots, air plants, shady and cool spots, and bulbs. In a short space it covers a good number of plants.
There are then a few links to websites of interest and further reading. Much of the recomended reading links you back to other books Holly has written. Interestingly no blogs are recommended, which now offer some of the best advice on houseplants. But then they also disappear as quickly as books are published.
Overall the book is fine as a 99p kindle purchase. I wouldn’t recomend it for more than a fiver. It would make a nice gift for someone looking to develop a house plant collection, but the RHS practical house plants book is currently cheaper and offers more detail. But as a starting point to see if you’re are interested in learning more it isn’t a bad choice. The presentation is good and the writing is generally clear. As a short guide it is too brief on areas, but OK as a starting point before looking into subjects further. For example terrariums and kokedama interested me from this book. But I’d need to look up more information to see if they were practical for me.
Overall worth buying if on sale if cheap, probably not worth £12.99 for it in hardback, but good for 99p on kindle.
Hope you’ve found this useful. I’m going to go into further detail of other houseplant books in future blogs as well as looking at some of my own house and class plants.