"Facing gardening challenges"

A new book gives strategies for overcoming garden problems.
Sunday, 14 December 2014     

A new book from CSIRO Publishing

We have certainly had some very extreme weather lately in Sydney - searing heat, torrid humidity and recurrent storms with heavy rains: a real challenge for our gardens. A new, easy-to-read book published by CSIRO Publishing, called Australian Garden Rescue: Restoring a damaged garden by Mary Horsfall, explores how changing weather patterns may impact on our gardens and how we can adapt to these in the way we garden. However, the book is also a practical manual for incorporating many helpful general organic practices into our gardening and would be very useful for gardeners just starting out as well as for more seasoned ones seeking to learn more about some of the environmentally sustainable ideas that have come into vogue in recent times - which can prevent many problems occurring in our gardens in the first place.

Good gardening practices are essential for a flourishing garden as well as for coping with particular problems. Mary is an organic gardener and one of her basic premises is that improving our soil is key to success. Ongoing incorporation of organic matter into the soil is vital to retain moisture, add nutrients and encourage the millions of life forms that exist in healthy soil. Choosing the right plant for the right spot in the garden is also a very important consideration, and Mary looks at issues such as pH, soil type, sun exposure and frost occurrence in determining which plants will do best where, giving plant lists that could be helpful for beginning gardeners. However, I felt that one oversight here was that different climate zones in Australia weren't really emphasised, which could lead to disappointment for people who plant some of these suggested specimens if their climate isn't suitable (eg lily-of-the-valley is given as a perennial to plant in shaded areas, without noting that this plant won't do well in areas with mild winters - as many of us in Sydney have found to our chagrin!).

Mary then examines a variety of major issues that affect gardeners (and which may become more frequent in the future) - heatwaves, drought, frost, floods, cyclones and bushfires - and gives very practical advice on how we can cope with these problems. The chapters on drought-proofing the garden are relevant to us all, and there are lots of great ideas, such as the use of wicking beds, rainwater gardens and simple irrigation systems.

The sections covering cyclones, floods and bushfires are sobering in conveying the catastrophic effect these natural disasters can have on gardens, yet Mary provides some great strategies that will give hope to anyone who has been through one of these ordeals. Having recently visited a garden that is being wonderfully restored after a major bushfire last year, it is heartening to see how some of the shrubs and trees do regenerate back after time, and how resilient gardeners can be in recreating a garden after utter devastation.

The book ends with chapters dealing with non-chemical ways of coping with large and small pests, diseases and weeds, which are useful for any gardener, whether or not they are facing other immediate gardening challenges. I enjoyed reading about Mary's tried-and-tested strategies, and I felt as if she were a kind gardening friend giving me the benefits of her long experience. She even carries out little experiments to compare the effectiveness of different methods (for example, on the use of vinegar as a weedkiller), which I found intriguing - I think we should all do this occasionally in our own gardens too!

The book concludes with a chapter celebrating the importance of gardening and gardens in our lives and for society, and reiterates the necessity for gardeners to be adaptable to change in all its forms. The hints given in the book will certainly assist us in this. I finished the book with a feeling of optimism, and plenty of ideas in my head for my own garden.

 Reader Comments

1/16  Sue - 2073 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 15 December 2014

Thank you Deirdre for all your wonderful blogs during the year. The book looks like a great present for any gardener. I will try vinegar ar a weed killer as I have a week problem in my paths. Have a very happy Christmas and I look forward to your blogs next year. Sue

2/16  Evelyn - 2117 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 15 December 2014

I always look forward to your columns on a Monday morning and I have learnt a lot from them. Thank you! This sounds like an interesting book. I think ABC/Gardening Australia also have a new garden book out, though I haven"t seen it yet. All the best for Christmas and the new year. Evelyn.

3/16  Ruth - 4034 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Monday, 15 December 2014

Ruth 4034 Your Monday morning letter is always like a breath of fresh air, so helpful and optimistic, I have learnt so much, Thank you Deirdre. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and may 2015 be full of laughter and joy. Ruth

4/16  Lynne - 2479 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Monday, 15 December 2014

Happy Christmas to you and your family Deirdre. Many thanks for your blogs. They are a pleasure to read and the knowledge you share with us all is a real help and sometimes, a revelation. May your New Year be full of gardening joy. Lynne

5/16  Chris - 4034 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Monday, 15 December 2014

Thanks Deirdre for a year of helpful hints. I choose to use no pesticides in my garden and it needs patience to succeed. With recent rains, my garden has changed colour. I am hoping Santa will give me a couple of live chooks for Christmas, to help with my gardening. Your blogs are like letters to each of us. Have a nice break this Christmas and enjoy. Christa

6/16  Pam - 3216 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 15 December 2014

Best wishes for the season to you and your family Deirdre. Many thanks for the wonderful website and blogs. Pam.

7/16  Helen - 7256 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 15 December 2014

Thanks Deirdre for your blog and webpage - its a very valuable & inspiring resource for a;; keen gardeners. The book sounds very interesting. I"m particularly interested in matching plants to particular microclimates - would make a great read Helen

8/16  Helen - 2159 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 15 December 2014

I"ll add my name to the Seasons greetings to you and your family Deidre. Thank you so much for your blog every week. It"s so nice to sit and read it at breakfast every Monday morning and learn so much, even if it doesn"t apply to me. I will look forward to it returning. Happy Christmas. Helen

9/16  Carole - 2230 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 15 December 2014

Deidre, Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2015 for you and yours. May your garden grow just as you would wish :-) Cheers and kind regards Carole.

10/16  Georgina - 2076 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 15 December 2014

Happy Christmas Deidre to you and all your family. Thank you for all the enjoyable reads with stacks of great information each week. Look forward to reading your blog in 2015. Best wishes Georgina

11/16  Sharyn - 4341 (Zone:11B - Tropical) Monday, 15 December 2014

Happy Xmas Deidre. Have always looked forward to your blogs throughout the year and I really appreciate the information and knowledge you have on gardens. Hope you have a lovely holiday and I"ll be looking forward to more of your blogs in 2015. Best, Sharyn

12/16  Carmel - 2219 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 15 December 2014

Merry Christmas Deidre. And thank you so much for your wonderful blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading every post. So much wonderful information. Best wishes for 2015. Carmel

13/16  Sue - 2074 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Thanks for your thought provoking blogs and for providing the sharing plants site - wishing you and your family a happy Christmas and good gardening in 2015.Sue

14/16  Ambra - 2010 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 02 February 2015

Thanks for these suggestions. I"m a first-time tomato growing and have some challenges. Felt I had to write a blog post about it. Here it is: https://ambradambra.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/home-groan-tomatoes-a-labour-of-love/ 

15/16  Densey - 2446 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 17 December 2018

Many thanks for your comments and advice through the year and I hope you both have a special Christmas. I shall be having Christmas Lunch with the lovely people who now run Greenbourne , the very successful Plant Nursery in Wauchope - THanks again to you and Andrew. Densey Happy Christmas, Densey. Deirdre

16/16  Pam - 3216 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Very best wishes for the season Deirdre and many thanks for your wonderful writing during the year. Thanks so much, Pam, and hope you have a great Christmas. Deirdre

Make a comment

* You can only post comments on Blogs if you are signed in. If you are already registered please go to the Home page and Sign-In first. If you are not an iGarden member please click here to register now.

My eBooks (PDF)

Most-recent blogs

Early morning in the May garden
22 May 22
Much can be seen during a stroll in the garden now.

Autumn carpets
15 May 22
I enjoy seeing carpets of fallen leaves and flowers in autumn.

Happy Mother's Day
08 May 22
My mother's garden has been hugely influential for me.

Jewels of May
01 May 22
Some lovely flowers bloom this month

Scented leaves
24 Apr 22
Scented leaves can evoke memories and uplift the soul.

Previously at this time

2008 - 06 Dec
2009 - 13 Dec
2010 - 12 Dec
2011 - 04 Dec
2012 - 09 Dec
2015 - 06 Dec
2016 - 04 Dec
2017 - 10 Dec
2018 - 02 Dec
2020 - 13 Dec
2021 - 05 Dec

Sponsor message