Are you a book lover or do you find everything you want to know on the Internet? Do you buy cheap gardening books, expensive ones, any books you see or recommendations only?
There’s such an array of garden books it can be difficult to choose, from ‘celebrity’ gardeners to unknown authors, there’s a book for everyone. So many that when you come across a gardening book, and in particular a book about growing food that’s unlike anything you’ve picked up before, if you’re anything like me it can fill you with excitement and glee. You just know it has to make it onto your own bookshelves somehow or some way.
That’s the sense I experienced when I finally unpacked Fionnuala Fallon’s first book ‘From the Ground Up‘. The book was sent directly from Irish publishers Collins Press who had kindly sent me a copy to be reviewed. Between Gift Seed Collection making, community gardening, teaching after schools children how to make vegetable puppets and family life, the parcel sat on my kitchen table unopened. It wasn’t until after midnight when I fell into bed that I remembered the book was still waiting to be unwrapped. Aware that day times are filled with activity and quiet time rare, I hopped out of bed and retrieved it. This turned out to be a BIG mistake.
As I carefully removed the protective envelope and pulled the book out, I began to feel a sense of joy. The weight of this new book, the solid binding and the colourful imagery immediately gave me a clue that this wasn’t going to be a run of the mill read.
What really popped my cork however, is that ‘From the Ground Up’ is unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s a book about people. A book about individuals who are passionate about growing food – young, old, inner city, rural, big gardens, community gardens, small gardens and balconies. Fionnuala and her husband Richard (who took the beautiful images throughout the book) travelled Ireland chatting to several experienced gardeners about their successes, their failures, why they grow their own, what they grow, their recommended books and websites, their favourite tools and their treasured memories (I thought I loved my job but I’ll admit to some job envy at the thought of that! Fionnuala if you need an assistant when you’re writing your second book…..)
Fionnuala listened and noted, then wove the tales into chapters, giving us a glimpse into the lives and passions of these experienced gardeners. committing them to history in an exquisitely written and styled book. This gardening book is unusual and it’s inspiring. It’s about how Ireland is growing its own food and whether you’re a grower or an observer, gardening or thinking about it, in Ireland or overseas, I think you will love it too. The one thing it isn’t about is egos.
So why was opening the parcel such a mistake? Because once opened I couldn’t put it down. I read page after page, noticed the digits on the clock click by and didn’t care, I wanted to read more and I’m now writing this post with matchstick eyelids as a result.
I really don’t want to give this book away. I want to keep it by my bedside and pick it up every night before i fall asleep. However, as its Christmas and a time of sharing I will be posting it off to a lucky reader with an Irish address (apologies to anyone else but An Post overseas postage is ridiculous, and as much as I love you all…..).
So why am I parting with this precious book if I like it so much?
I figure that authors need all the help we can give them in the days of the internet and google. Book shops are closing and publishers working harder than ever to survive. I’m going to put this book on my own Christmas list and hope that it finds its way under my Christmas tree so that during the festival period when we’re taking a break, I can stick my nose into it for several days, read it cover to cover and not feel guilty that I should be doing something else.
So how do you get your hands on this particular gardening book? Just leave a comment below telling me the title and author of your own favourite gardening book and why. It might be about ornamental gardens, flowers, biology or self-sufficiency, just tell us about it. That’s all you have to do… Well that and (given that this is the time of year to share) tell your friends about this giveaway and not keep it all to yourselves…. A winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday evening, the 16th December giving me time to post it and you the opportunity to give it away as a gift or treat yourself this Christmas.
If you’re not the lucky chosen one, you can purchase a copy from bookshops or online at Collins Press for €24.99.
Lastly, The Sodshow interviewed Fionnuala on Fridays show. She talked about her book, the inspiration, people she met and her own gardening experiences. If you’re interested you can listen to the podcast here.
Best of luck and Happy Christmas to you all x