Kindle monthly deals

It’s a new month and that brings new kindle deals. This month brings quite a few gardening books. While kindle isn’t an ideal format for gardening books where you often want the pictures many are cheap enough to be worth a try. Can always buy a hard copy if they prove good.

Organic Gardening: The Natural No-Dig Way

Charles Dowding’s books haven’t much of a reduction on them. I am still interested having seen him on Gardeners World a number of times. His gardening practises of avoiding digging to help soil health.

RHS Grow for Flavour: Tips & tricks to supercharge the flavour of homegrown harvests

James Wong discussing growing tips for edibles.

The Garden Awakening: Designs to nurture our land and ourselves

A gardening design book with a different focus. The focus being connecting with the garden and nature.

How to Grow: A guide for gardeners who can’t garden yet

A basic beginners guide.

How to Create a New Vegetable Garden: Producing a beautiful and fruitful garden from scratch

Another Charles Dowding book.

RHS Grow Your Own: Crops in Pots: with 30 step-by-step projects using vegetables, fruit and herbs (Royal Horticultural Society Grow Your Own)

These little RHS books don’t give massive detail. But they are usually quick interesting enough reads. I don’t have a dedicated veg plot, but I am growing a few things in pots. I may buy this one for some extra advice.

RHS Little Book of Small-Space Gardening: Easy-grow Ideas for Balconies, Window Boxes & Other Outdoor Areas (Rhs Little Books)

Continuing thus years trend for looking at small spaces.

Revive your Garden: How to bring your outdoor space back to life

This was only released by Nick Bailey a few months back. I was tempted at the time, as I like Nick’s contributions in magazines, and at 99p I’ll take a chance on kindle formatting.

RHS Little Book of Happy Houseplants (Rhs Little Books)

I’ve bought this one as well. I’ve been contemplating our house plants. Amy regularly buys herbs for the windowsill in the kitchen, then forgets she has them and they grow too big. Other than that she favours plastic looking plants I feel are hideous. I rather like cacti for their evolutionary adaptations, but not a great choice with a two year old in the house. However the benefit of having plants in the house for air quality and mental well being are well discussed. So I’d like to find something that meets my taste.

The Golden Age of the Garden: A Miscellany

A miscellany of garden writing.

Link party

A quick shout out for the glorious garden link party. The #mygloriousgardens brings together like minded gardeners to share their blogs. I was pleased to be selected for the featured blog for June. The list is here. Well worth a browse. To join in with July check it out here.

Kindle gardening deals

This month sees many deals for gardening books on kindle. Kindle obviously thinks it’s time to get back out in the garden. While some are photo heavy that I don’t think will work on kindle. But some good pickings to be had.

Garden design a book of ideas

This gets quite favourable reviews, though I think it may be photo heavy so may be better in a hard format.

RHS small garden handbook

This one has come up on the sales before. It has some good ideas for small spaces. Presentation is good. A quick read to get ideas for a small garden or a small space within the garden.

RHS big ideas small spaces

This covers some common ground with the small garden handbook and goes onto give projects for your garden. These vary in terms of skill and equipment required.

RHS gardening for mindfulness

I bought this one a while back and only just got round to reading it. It’s quite a nice introduction to concepts of mindfulness, but it does get a bit repetitive. I’m not a massive fan of the trend for secular mindfulness books. Removed from the Buddhist eightfold path it loses much of its power to help people. However if you want a quick cheap read about relaxing in your garden it is an alright read. Wouldn’t recommend full price.

RHS the little book of bonsai

I kept a bonsai in my classroom until Alice was born. It had been managing well, but during my paternity it was killed off with neglect. It sacrificed its life for Alice, which I feel a little guilt over. I may have to purchase this book and get another on the go.

James Wong’s homegrown revolution

I’m not massively keen on James Wong’s presenting style when he comes on TV, but he does come off as knowledgeable. We are growing more veg at school. I only have limited experience of veg growing so may get this one to support.
The Golden Age of the Garden: A Miscellany

I quite like a miscellany I can dip in and out of, but might be nicer as a hard copy. Cheap enough though to take a chance on.
RHS Practical Latin for Gardeners: More than 1,500 Essential Plant Names and the Secrets They Contain

RHS Latin for Gardeners: Over 3,000 Plant Names Explained and Explored

These two could be really interesting or dry as old bones. The Latin names give you clues as to where a plant will be happiest, what foliage it may have and much more. It could be useful information.
RHS Miniature Garden Grower: Terrariums & Other Tiny Gardens to Grow Indoors & Out

Terrariums seem to be quite trendy at the moment. Amy likes plants for the windowsill in the kitchen, but I dislike the majority of common houseplants so might be useful to have some more ideas.
Weeds and What They Tell Us

I mainly garden for wildlife, so the term weeds gets criticism. Weeds are wildflowers in an unwanted space. That said weeds aren’t a massive issue in my garden as it’s a relatively small space. I just fight a battle with herb robert, trying to prevent it smothering other plants.
The Garden in the Clouds: From Derelict Smallholding to Mountain Paradise

Looks to be an interesting memoir of developing a garden in a difficult situation.
A Wood of One’s Own

Another memoir with many positive reviews.
RHS How Do Worms Work?: A Gardener’s Collection of Curious Questions and Astonishing Answers

A collection of questions answered. I saw this one on a lot of peoples Christmas lists and seem to remember many other bloggers enjoying.
RHS Botany for Gardeners: The Art and Science of Gardening Explained & Explored

I’ve purchased this one. One of my teachers at school was a keen botanist. While at the time I didn’t appreciate her teaching us about propagation it has come in use as a gardener. Look forward to reading.
RHS Red Hot Chilli Grower: The complete guide to planting, picking and preserving chillies

Chilli growing is very popular currently, though probably not used in our cooking enough currently with cooking for Alice.
Tomatoes: A Gardener’s Guide

Title tells you all.
How to Grow: A guide for gardeners who can’t garden yet

A basic introduction.
Grow Your Own Drugs: A Year With James Wong

A guide to providing herbal remedies through the year.
The Balcony Gardener: Creative ideas for small spaces

Not one for me with no balconies or window boxes. Our outside walls are about to be rendered afresh so will be giving this one a miss.
Creative Vegetable Gardening

Positively reviewed veg guide.
The Sceptical Gardener: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Good Gardening

Not as cheap as the others, but coming from well respected writer. Though being the Torygraph puts me off.
Greenhouse Gardening: Step-by-Step to Growing Success (Crowood Gardening Guides)

Might be of interest to some of you. However I am lacking a greenhouse.
The People’s Gardener

A memoir from a RHS judge.
Teeny Tiny Gardening: 35 step-by-step projects and inspirational ideas for gardening in tiny spaces

Another guide for small projects.
Writing the Garden: A Literary Conversation Across Two Centuries

Some positive reviews for this one.
The Gardens That Mended a Marriage

Looks to be a short read of love and gardening.
Companion Plants and How to Use Them

Not much info on this one. Looks to be short, but is cheap currently.
Grow Your Own Vegetables in Pots: 35 ideas for growing vegetables, fruits and herbs in containers

Another guide for veg growing.

If any of you already own any of these please comment below adding your thoughts.

Nature Book Swap

The arts and humanities research council have announced the short list of the UK’s favourite nature book.

Here

The list is an interesting mix of fiction and non-fiction and old and new. The books are all ones that have touched people in different ways. They all have some emotional impact.

I read a lot of nature books both fiction and non-fiction and as part of this blog I have shared many I’ve enjoyed. Following on from the dark is rising book group, the AHRC book list and the seed swap I wondered if anyone was interested in a secret nature book swap? You may have ended up with duplicates for Christmas. So here is a use for them.

The concept was done during the 30 days wild. Emails of interest are collected. People are sent an address to send on a nature book too. In this way people encounter new nature books and share their love of the written word.

If you receive a book you own or have read pass it to a friend or family member you think might like it. If you can’t think of anyone give it to charity. No harm having charity shops filled with quality nature writing. Someone will enjoy it.

So initially just looking for who is interested. If you are email me your name and address. All information will remain confidential except who you are sending a book too. I can’t except any liability for anyone who doesn’t receive a book. This relies on trust and goodwill. UK only so no one has excessive postage.

I’ll set a deadline of interest to next Friday 12th January. So anyone interested email: natureswap@mail.com

Follow on twitter

#naturebookswap

The dark is rising-day 5 contemporaries and influence

Today’s question poised by Robert MacFarlane: 24 December: Day 5 of #TheDarkIsReadingTo which other books/writers do you think TDIR is related? Alan Garner, Ursula Le Guin, Robert Holdstock; also The Mabinogion, WG Hoskins, Jacquetta Hawkes…

And – where is Cooper’s influence visible in recent/contemporary (YA) writing? https://t.co/5RiAO6Izxq

The most obvious contemporary writer to Susan Cooper would be Alan Garner. Both wrote books based on Arthurian lore. Their stories were heavily based in the British landscape and folk traditions of the land. Other connections could easily be made to T.H. White and his story of Merlin compiled as the once and future king. Much like Cooper and Garner they all have a good understanding of the land and animals present in the British Isles. 

But looking at their work in isolation with regards to literature seems a mistake. The late 60s saw a folk revival in music. Much of this with a pagan nature. Bands like the incredible string band and pentangle form a backdrop to Garner’s and Cooper’s work. Many of these bands drawing on the same source material of Arthurian legend and the Mabinogion. Within movies the 70s saw many darker horror movies with similar rural backgrounds. The Wicker man being the most famous, but Robin Redbreast and Penza’s fen deserve a mention too. 

Kids TV took similar dark turns with the ITV children of the stones. A wonderfuly scary show that would never be made now. The TV adaptation of Garner’s the owl service didn’t go quite as dark, but deserves a mention.

Reading the twitter thread on this question many people are linking Cooper’s work to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. While these are based in magical worlds within modern day settings I’d say the magic comes from a more contemporary setting. The world of folk tales and legend plays a role, but there are other authors more strongly following Cooper and Garner’s work. Not that I’m critising Harry Potter. I just don’t think they have the same grounding in landscape, the myths and legends of the British Isles and nature of the Isles. Diana Wyne Jones with a smattering of Merlin through her stories seems more of a follow on. Albeit with a bit more humour. Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black’s spiderwick chronicles come through in similar ways. There is a background of folklore placed in the contemporary setting.

But however you look at TDIR, in terms of influence or not, it’s a very enjoyable winter read.

Tonight is Christmas Eve so our family traditions were observed. In TDIR Will and family head out carol singing. In my family we stick a candle in a potato cut in half to light the way for Father Christmas. Who knows where these traditions come from, but they must be observed each year.

Tomorrow will be full of excess so if I don’t get a chance I’ll say it now; Merry Christmas to all my blog readers. May your day be full of joy.

The dark is rising-day 4 the magic of names

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” J.K. Rowling

Today’s set question on the dark is rising: Speaking aloud (en-chanting) is vital in TDIR, as is the knowing of names. What are the powers of language in this book (from which so many people read aloud?

Within TDIR people can gain power by knowing someone’s true name. Maggie Barnes is prevented from harming Will early on through the use of her true name. The concept of names having magic is an old one in folklore. Rumpelstiltskin being one of the best known. An old tradition states that un-named children could be stolen by fairies and replaced by changeling’s. In the hobbit Bilbo avoids giving Smaug his name. More recently in the Studio Ghibli movie spirited away the character Chihiro loses her name to the witch Yubaba.

The ability to name things correctly remains important for the modern world. Conservation efforts need accurate identification of species to support them appropriately. Unfortunately the loss of knowledge like wildflower names, bird names and insects endangers these efforts.

Within my own practises mantras play a part. A sacred syllable instilled with power by uttering it out loud.  Within other faiths prayer plays a significant role as does communal recitals of readings, songs and prayers. Words undeniably have power. Within TDIR Maggie is stopped through the use of her name. The light characters avoid their names being known. The lady also avoids her true name being used when first meeting Will.

I have just reached the chapter, the book of gramayre. Robert MacFarlane having posted this as the word of the day; Gramayre being the old French for knowledge. The book being a grimoire. So it looks that words will playing a role over the next chapter.

Today ended with a bright red sunset. Knowing the old rhyme this can only bring ill for Will tomorrow.

“Words are, of course, the most powerful powerful drug used by mankind”

Rudyard Kipling

My passion for trees

A quick recommendation for some TV viewing. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Judy Dench tell us all about her trees in My passion for trees. The documentary took us through the seasons, detailing different aspects of trees. How they respond to threats, communicate, grow, and deal with the seasons. She listened inside the tree with a special microphone. Digital mapping measures the extent of trees in her garden. The historical uses of trees are looked at. The role of trees in reducing green houses gasses is examined. It made me happy that within my school garden I have planted several new trees, with the children, within our garden. One of the latest being this bare root pear tree. Hopefully come Spring it will have rooted and we’ll see blossom.

pear tree.jpg

Also a quick shout out for a tree related book on sale in kindle twelve days of kindle sale.

The hidden life of trees.

From the blurb:

Are trees social beings? How do trees live? Do they feel pain or have awareness of their surroundings?

In The Hidden Life of Trees Peter Wohlleben makes the case that the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death and regeneration he has observed in his woodland.

A walk in the woods will never be the same again.

And another taking my fancy for pushing story telling with the young.

Into the woods.

Into The Woods is a revelation of the fundamental structure and meaning of all stories, from the man responsible for more hours of drama on British television than anyone else, John Yorke.

We all love stories. Many of us love to tell them, and even dream of making a living from it too. But what is a story? Hundreds of books about screenwriting and storytelling have been written, but none of them ask ‘Why?’ Why do we tell stories? And why do all stories function in an eerily similar way?

John Yorke has been telling stories almost his entire adult life, and the more he has done it, the more he has asked himself why? Every great thinker or writer has their theories: Aristotle, David Hare, Lajos Egri, Robert McKee, Gustav Freytag, David Mamet, Christopher Booker, Charlie Kaufman, William Goldman and Aaron Sorkin – all have offered insightful and illuminating answers. Here, John Yorke draws on these figures and more as he takes us on a historical, philosophical, scientific and psychological journey to the heart of all storytelling.

What he reveals is that there truly is a unifying shape to narrative – one that echoes the great fairytale journey into the woods, and one, like any great art, that comes from deep within. Much more than a ‘how to write’ book, Into the Woods is an exploration of this fundamental structure underneath all narrative forms, from film and television to theatre and novel-writing. With astonishing detail and wisdom, John Yorke explains to us a phenomenon that, whether it is as a simple fable, or a big-budget 3D blockbuster, most of us experience almost every day of our lives.

The dark is rising

“Tonight will be bad, and tomorrow beyond all imagining”

Yesterday marked the start of the dark is rising reading group starting point. Susan Copper’s dark is rising is a fantasy book starting from the 20th December. Julia Bird and Robert MacFarlane have invited people to take part in a mass read along of the book having realised many people reread it at this time of year. The time the book is set.

Originally published in 1973 it was the second in the dark is rising sequence, but can be read as a stand alone. Last night I made a start reading the first chapter. This opening chapter sets the scene perfectly building up the suspense the day before Will’s, the main character’s, birthday.

The weather the last few weeks has been perfect for a read of the book. We’ve had snow, mist and fog. The atmospheric swirls of low lying mist over the fields on my way to work would have made for an ideal journey home to read the next part. But last night was the calmest it has been for weeks. So it goes. The book links heavily to the landscape and the first chapter makes good use of the animals unease. I’m going to have to keep my eye on the rooks the next few weeks.

I’m looking forward to my next reading session. There is no set pace to read it, but Robert MacFarlane is setting questions to go with the read. It looks like hundreds are taking part, giving us a wonderful communal read through the powers of the internet. Posts are being shared through the two hashtags #thedarkisrising and #thedarkisreading