- Reviewed by:: Maria Krenek, UCCE Master Gardener
Timber Press, 2019 Portland, Oregon 214 pages.
Who can resist a book whose preface begins, “The year I became a Master Gardener, I couldn't wait to apply the information I'd learned so I could transform my garden. With my bad back, I knew the last thing I should be doing was wrestling with heavy things – like this one concrete pot I wanted to move – but I did it anyway. “ You can guess where that went. However, recovery took things a bit further. It inspired our author, Toni Gattone to learn and do even more. The resulting book, THE LIFELONG GARDENER, GARDEN WITH EASE & JOY AT ANY AGE, allowed this Master Gardener to teach and share a great deal of experience and knowledge to anyone who would listen about safely and efficiently gardening within the real boundaries our bodies create for our activities.
The main focus of the book is Adaptive Gardening. Adaptive gardening is about the use of techniques, garden design and tools that ease the physical stress of gardening on joints, muscles, etc., making gardening safer and much more accessible. Here are some of the rules, Gattone, puts forward:
1. Our bodies change. That's life. Look for other ways to get things done.
2. You deserve a safe and comfortable garden to work in.
3. Stretch and move to warm up to the work.
4. Switch it up. Rotate your activities and movements.
5. Gardening smarter takes less time and more gets done.
6. Fill your garden with the “right plant, right place” and save time, energy and money.
7. Ask for help. It might be more fun, too.
8. Look for ways to make things easier such as a special tools, pads, mobile scooters, etc.
9. Use tools that are comfortable, ergonomic.
10. Create a garden at a level comfortable for use: raised beds, eye level gardening, etc.
These basic principles are supported throughout the book with practical, reasonable and attainable methods and resources. She shares health related information from the Mayo Clinic, CDC (Center for Disease Control), Arthritis Foundation, and other sources. Also included are basic gardening practices , too. Containers, fences, vertical gardening, watering, etc., and more are explored to help create a garden that works for you without extra wear and tear.
Her message is clear. Keep gardening by adapting your gardening to what works for you as you change. Along the way, look for other opportunities to share your love of gardening as a Master Gardener, as a member of a garden club, as a part of a community garden, and whatever other possibilities come your way. It is never too early to start making it easier and hopefully extending our gardening time and pleasure.
Consider also reading GARDENING FOR A LIFETIME: How to become a Garden Wiser as You Grow Older by Sydney Eddison (Timber Press, Oregon, 2010). A lovely book with illustrations by Kimberly Day Proctor.
- Reviewed by: Maria Krenek, UCCE Master Gardener
The book discussed during our first book club was BRAIDING SWEETGRASS: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.
It was a personal and inspirational journey shared by the author, Robin Wall Kimmerer, in her quest to find a bridge between her life as a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and as a SUNY Professor of Botany. Bridging the seeming abyss separating the wisdom of indigenous peoples and the methods of modern science became fundamental to understanding the world around her. It created a path supporting her exploration of mind, spirit and inter connectivity to her world, plant studies and the people in her life. As a young child, her fascination with and love of the plants and flowers around her inspired that life path. She used her early childhood experiences with plants and then her university training, to draw us into a clearer understanding of the world. She made a whole lot of sense of the different views each represented. Along the way we learn many things about maple trees, growing and gathering foods, the history of indigenous peoples, plants and their strategies with and without humans and much more. Like braiding sweet grass, she wove a tapestry of observations, relationships, and causation that reminds us to take all that we learn, see, hear, feel and do to know what is around us. And most of all, to appreciate, give thanks for the gifts received and pass on the gifts we can give to others and the future.
So even though you do learn a sizable amount of information about mosses and other plants and ecosystems in these books, your learning is not limited to simple facts. Consider these books looms where a very special cloth is woven revealing a multitude of dimensional relationships to be explored through science, yes, but also the creativity of seeing through eyes of wonder how all things are connected. Written in beautifully poetic and rhythmic cadences, awe and respect with the responsibility for doing no harm and leaving any place better than when we arrived these books are both well worth reading.
KIMMERER, Robin Wall. GATHERING MOSSES A NATURAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY OF MOSSES Oregon State University Press Corvallis, Oregon 2003 165 pages
KIMMERER, Robin Wall. BRAIDING SWEET GRASS INDIGENOUS WISDOM, SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND THE TEACHINGS OF PLANTS Milkweed Editions, Canada 2013 390 pages.