Our Beautiful Earth : Part Six : Natural History Books : Lifestyle Bibles : Sustainability , Simple Living and Securing the Future

While it is easy to feel pessimistic about the future, there are still some wonderful organizations constantly working to improve the environment and state of the world. There are also many things you can do at an individual level, as pointed out by the following books in order of publication.

The 1970s was a period of growing awareness of the environment and a desire for self-reliance and individual creativity, qualities in danger of being lost in an increasingly technological and impersonal world. Here are two excellent books from that era.

Household Ecology by Julia Percivall and Pixie Burger  1973

An oldie, but a goodie, this well-thumbed paperback has almost fallen apart but, in keeping with its philosophy, is constantly re-mended and recycled!! It addresses the individual – what you can do yourself to effect change and help restore ecological balance, a huge task with our ever-increasing population, but every little bit counts!! It looks at :

Ecology in the marketplace: ecological shopping; laundry and household cleaners with appropriate more ecologically-friendly alternatives; and recycling discards;

Food for healthy living , including lots of recipes; sleep and exercise; food for particular situations and nature’s tranquilizers and destressors;

Seasonal adjustments and the climate indoors; natural air fresheners and deodorizers; preserving cut flowers; and house plants;

The medicine chest and natural beauty aids, again with lots of recipes;

Natural garden sprays and traps; encouraging birds and butterflies; companion planting, natural fertilisers, compost and mulches; and herb gardens;

Baby care; and child rearing to revere nature; and

A word on future prospects, although I fear that, despite some major gains (like not throwing rubbish out of car windows!), we have such a long way to go yet! This book however offers many valuable practical and possible solutions for those who do care about the future of our planet!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd40%Image (500) - Copy

In Celebration of Small Things by Sharon Cadwaller 1974

This useful book has many wonderful suggestions from making a container garden,  preserving fruit and vegetables and making wine and beer to simple sewing for the home, making furniture, doing electrical and plumbing repairs and wise supermarket shopping.

There is also a large section on honouring our natural environment, creating a more cooperative community and restoring ritual, all marvellous tenets for contemporary living. I also love the simple ink sketches by Anita Walker Scott, which compliment the delightful title of this book perfectly!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (549)

The following books were particularly useful for farmers like ourselves at the time.

Water For Every Farm by PA Yeomens 1978

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In this landmark book, PA Yeomens (1904-1984) challenged conventional Australian farming practices with respect to water and soil fertility  in the 1940s and 1950s and designed a new agricultural system for water irrigation and storage, tree planting and maintaining (and even accelerating) soil fertility, which he called the Keyline System. It is a beautifully integrated system using the contours of the land to catch every drop of water falling on the farm, then redistribute it for pasture irrigation and growing vegetation strips, feeding the excess water by gravity into further storage dams at lower contour levels, as can be seen in this aerial photograph at Richmond (page 52-53 in the book), an area now sadly covered in urbanization. For a good grasp of his concept, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz6vhoOg4Hc.

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 Keyline Design concepts are now part of the curriculum of many sustainable agriculture courses throughout the world and were a key factor in the development of permaculture. In fact, Yeomens’ principles have been further refined by permaculture practitioners. See: http://www.permaculturenews.org/resources_files/KeylineArticle.pdf.

My husband and his brother, Peter, attended one of his Keyline workshops and visited dams in the Kiewa Valley (see YouTube link above) in Victoria, before following his principles back on their farm. In fact, Peter is actually in a photograph of participants in another book by Yeomens, The City Forest, discussed next, in which he extends his ideas beyond farms to the whole environment!

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The City Forest : The Keyline Plan for the Human Environment Revolution by PA Yeomens 1971

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This tiny book is another early call to arms, warning about the state of the environment back in the early 1970s, almost 50 years ago! After discussing the basic principles of his Keyline concept and advocating a return to small scale organic farming, Yeomens focuses on urban landscape design, advocating the use of his concepts and the planting of forests near and within cities to help with pollution, sewerage treatment and water management. Both very influential books!

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Wildlife in the Home Paddock by Roland Breckwoldt 1983

In his book, Roland Breckwoldt looks specifically at the Australian situation and encourages an awareness of wildlife on farms and management practices to accommodate them. He argues that apart from strong ethical and aesthetical reasons for preserving native flora and fauna, there are also economic benefits from learning to live with the land. For example : the maintenance of biodiversity and natural ecosystems.

There is still so much we don’t know about all the interactions and interconnectedness and interdependence of life forms, not to mention their special properties, which hold potential for future use like rainforest medicinal plants. Upsetting the natural balance by removing certain elements can have catastrophic effects on the local environment, not to mention farm productivity.

Management practices include tree planting and regeneration to enhance the appeal and value of the property and provide windbreaks and wildlife corridors; the adaptation of farm dams for waterfowl and freshwater fish; the controlled use of fire; and the management of problem animals like cockatoos in grain crops and wallabies in forest plantations, using ecological methods of pest control based on the species’ behaviour and habitat requirements rather than by shooting, poisoning or trapping, which can adversely affect other wildlife (see Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in last week’s post). A very worthwhile addition to the natural history library!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (512)

While the 1980s were hailed as a period of affluence, many of us, especially small farmers (!) were still pottering along on low incomes and this next book was particularly useful.

Hard Times Handbook by Keith and Irene Smith 1984

Another classic by the founders of Earth Garden, one of the two pioneering Australian magazines devoted to self-sufficiency, organic gardening  and sustainability (the other was Grass Roots), both of which were started in the early 1970s and both of which are still published today. A self-sufficient lifestyle is a wealthy lifestyle in terms of creativity and well-being, but not materially, so this Hard Times Handbook provides invaluable suggestions for living cheaply in the city, conserving scarce resources, growing your own food and making healthy family meals, making and recycling clothes, saving energy and cost-cutting and surviving without a job.

It lists 21 steps for living simply, staying healthy and being happy, expounds its frugality theory and the joy of simple pleasures, and discusses survival strategies used during the Great Depression of the 1930s, all in the first two chapters.

The next section looks at emergency strategies for electricity failures and food shortages, followed by in-depth chapters on water, power, heating and cooling, recycling, backyard food growing, hard times tucker and lots of recipes and household hints for making cleaning and  beauty  and first aid products.

It’s a terrific little book with great suggestions, which are still very useful and pertinent today.

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Jackie French was also a regular contributor to Earth Garden and wrote many books, perfect for this post, but already reviewed in: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/03/23/books-on-specific-types-of-gardens-part-two-vegetable-gardens-sustainable-and-organic-gardens-and-dry-climate-gardens/ .

The Voluntary Simplicity movement of the 1990s, while already practiced by many, began to reach a wider audience with the following publications.

The Simple Living Guide : A Guide Book for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living by Janet  Luhrs  1997/2000

Simple living is about living deliberately.  Simple living is not about austerity, or frugality, or income level.  It’s about being fully aware of why you are living your particular life, and knowing that life is one you have chosen thoughtfully.  Simple living is about designing our lives to coincide with our ideals.” Janet Luhrs

Our first book on voluntary simplicity, a flood-damaged and recycled copy, bought from a secondhand bookshop and unfortunately, a subsequent victim of an over-enthusiastic purge in the interests of downsizing and simple living!!! Fortunately, it spawned its own website (https://simpleliving.com/book/), so we can still make the most of its concepts and wisdom without our own hardcopy!

The book examines the practical aspects of time, work, money, and housing: home and clutter, health and happiness, stress, family life, peace and love, and mindfulness and inspiration, backed up by a great blog on the website. See: https://simpleliving.com/blog/.

It provides strategies, inspiration, resources and real-life profiles of people, who have slowed down, overcome obstacles, and created richer lives. The only thing the website doesn’t replicate are the lovely graphics in the book! Here is another good book review of this excellent book: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/review-the-simple-living-guide/.

Timeless Simplicity : Creative Living in a Consumer Society by John Lane 2001

A more theoretical book about voluntary simplicity and Ross’s bible, to which he refers on an almost daily basis for inspiration and validation. I loved the little story about the fisherman and the industrialist at the beginning of the book (page 8), which illustrates this notion perfectly:BlogEnvtlBooks50%Image (647)This book has two themes: the quest for personal contentment and a better simpler quality of life; and the need for a more frugal lifestyle (due to the consequences of overpopulation, homogenization of our cultures, waste and dwindling resources) and a more equitable distribution of wealth.

John Lane was a chairman of the Dartington Hall Trust and involved in the founding of the Schumacher College in 1991 (https://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/).

Schumacher College is an international centre for transformative learning for sustainable living and offers holistic courses about social and environmental issues, inspired by E F Schumacher. Lecturers have included James Lovelock (founder of the Gaia concept), Deepak Chopra, Hazel Henderson, Rupert Sheldrake and Vandana Shiva. See last week’s post about Small is Beautiful: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/08/15/our-beautiful-earth-part-five-natural-history-books-environmental-challenges/.

In this book, John Lane examines a short history of simplicity from the ancient world and Christian ascetics to the Arts and Crafts Movement, promoted by John Ruskin and William Morris; and the writings of other advocates of the simple life like Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Leo Tolstoy. The Eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Taoism also advocated material moderation, mindfulness and spirituality. The current movement arose in the 1980s with Duane Elgin’s pioneering book about voluntary simplicity and sustainability. See: http://duaneelgin.com/books/.

He then examines the obstacles to simplicity : the fallacy that money makes you happy; mass conformity and beliefs; mass work, leisure and consumption; and life in the city.

The next chapter focuses on creative frugality and its rewards: rethinking your belief system; following your bliss; working for fulfilment; culling the unnecessary; reducing expenditure; setting limits; careful consumption; adopting a positive attitude; and living a slower pace of life.

The rewards of frugality include fidelity to oneself; living in the present; savouring the ordinary; a sense of place; companionship; the pleasure of listening and seeing; and the gifts of nature, play and creativity, love and laughter, and caring for the soul.

I love his notion of the sacred arts of life: imagination, creativity, individuality and beauty in the home;  the aesthetics and rituals associated with food preparation and mindful, thankful consumption; and the creation of a home and beautiful garden.

This is a very special book with a very important message. Despite our material wealth in the Western world, most people lead stressful lives, deprived of freedom, creativity and time, and while it may be difficult to get off the treadmill, it is possible if one changes one’s mindset and expectations to lead a simpler, more productive life. It is also essential for the survival of the planet and human life on Earth!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (499)

Another way of securing the future is to ensure the next generation are environmentally aware and love nature, but firstly two seminal texts, which steered the way we approached our own children’s upbringing!

The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff  1975

One of the first books, along with The Magical Child, which I read on child rearing while breast feeding! Jean Liedloff  lived with a South American Indian Stone Age tribe in their jungle home for two and a half years, observing their way of life and child-rearing practices and radically altering her perceptions about human development.

She developed a theory called the continuum concept, in which human beings have an innate set of expectations, known as a continuum, which ensure the survival of the species by achieving optimal physical, mental, and emotional development and adaptability. To achieve this, young humans – especially babies – require the kind of experience to which our species adapted during the long evolution by natural selection, including :

Immediate placement, after birth, in their mothers’ arms;

Constant carrying or physical contact with other people (usually their mothers or fathers) in the several months after birth, as these adults go about their day-to-day business, allowing the child to observe and learn;

Co-sleeping in the parents’ bed for at least two years;

Breast feeding on cue;

Caregivers’ immediate and unconditional response to the infants’ urgent body signals; and

Trust and a sense of place and worth within the tribe, without making them the constant centre of attention.

She argues that in Western civilized cultures, which have removed themselves from the natural evolutionary process, certain evolutionary expectations are not met as infants and toddlers, resulting in compensatory behaviours and many forms of mental and social disorders.

For more on this interesting concept, see: http://www.continuum-concept.org/ and https://loveparenting.org/2013/02/25/continuum-parenting-and-attachment-parenting-whats-the-difference-and-what-is-love-parenting-really-all-about/. It certainly made a lot of sense to me and was much easier to read than my next book!!!

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The Magical Child  by Joseph Chilton Pearce 1979

A fascinating read about the different stages of mind-brain maturation and matrices the child experiences from the womb to adulthood and how modern life speeds up the process, often skipping essential stages for the development of the human brain, at detrimental costs to both the individual and society as a whole.

It is not an easy book to read, as one has to learn an entire new set of vocabulary in order to understand the concepts he wishes to discuss. Basically, the author believes that the human brain has not changed that much over the past 2000 years, even though our society and Western lifestyle has, and to fully develop the child’s potential and intelligence, it is essential that the time-honoured biological guidelines for brain maturation, based on a series of matrix formations and shifts, are followed.

Each matrix shift presents a range of unknown possibilities, challenges and experiences, resulting in the growth of intelligence, and progresses from the concrete to the more abstract, with each matrix shift being based on mastery of the old matrix. From the safe matrix of the womb, children progress to the world of the mother, then the earth (or natural world in its immediate vicinity, completed at around 7 years old), becoming increasingly independent over the next 4 years (7 to 11 years old) to complete autonomy by adolescence, when the mind-brain becomes its own matrix and source of power, possibility and safety.

He argues that much of our Western practices of child-rearing and education are preventing this logical development of the mind-brain, resulting in major problems like obsessive-compulsive attachment to material objects; a breakdown in interpersonal relationships; anxiety and stress; and far worse : autism; hyper-kinetic behaviour; childhood schizophrenia; and adolescent suicide.

These practices include:

Modern technological birthing practices; separating the mother and infant at birth; and using cribs and strollers rather than slings on the mother’s body;

Group childcare and formal education at a maturation stage, when they should still be playing and at home with their mother, gaining confidence in physical and mental abilities within a safe environment; and

Subjecting the child to information and experiences through education, TV, social media and inappropriate games, suited to a later stage, and inflicting them with our anxiety before their brains have developed sufficiently to absorb it all.

Throughout the book, he cites many examples of alternative child-rearing practices in less developed nations, where the child is far more advanced in maturation to Western children the same age.

A very thought-provoking read, especially for new parents and educators!

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Joseph Chilton Pearce develops his ideas about mind-brain development and the evolution of creativity further in the sequel to this book :

Evolution’s End by Joseph Chilton Pearce  1993.

In it, he argues that :

Hospital childbirth interferes with the natural child-mother bonding process, thus, in turn, impeding the potential for all other human bonds with parents, friends, spouse and society;

Daycare further dissociates the child from the mother, increasing the inability to bond and implanting a lifelong sense of alienation and isolation;

Television and premature formal education stifle spontaneous play and cripple the development of the imagination; and

Synthetic growth hormones used in meat, dairy and poultry products accumulate in children and accelerate physical and sexual development, while psychological and intellectual maturation is radically impaired.

He develops a  three-stage model of human development: heart-mind synchrony, which occurs in infancy; post-adolescent synchrony of the physical self and the creative process, which few of us attain; and a final mystical stage, nearly unknown, that “moves us beyond biology.”

Even more difficult to read than the former book, it needs a few readings to totally grasp his concepts, a feat which I must admit is a little beyond my limited intelligence!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (496)

One of the best ways of encouraging children to appreciate their environment is to steep them in nature and natural history studies.

The Naturalist’s Handbook by Geoffrey C Watson 1962

Every child is naturally curious about the world around them. As Joseph Chilton Pearce pointed out, often today’s children are rushed through their natural stages of brain development and because of modern day factors, they too often skip the wonderful world of nature.

Today’s children are tomorrow’s naturalists and environmental advocates, so it is vitally important to introduce kids to the natural environment, if we still want a halfway decent world, in which to live. And it’s not only incredibly interesting, but it’s fun too!

This little British paperback, while small and old, still has some great ideas.

In Part One, it discusses comfort outdoors; maps and books; museums and natural history societies; and collecting and basic equipment, followed by chapters on animal detection (trails, tracks and signs); recording (field note book and logbooks) and identification.

Part Two becomes more specific with chapters on collecting rocks and fossils, plants and insects; watching birds and mammals; collecting reptiles, amphibians and shells and learning more about the seashore; and finally forming a nature club with a seasonal program of talks and activities. Observation, collecting, recording, identification, mounting and displaying, preservation and storage are all discussed in depth, as well as more specialist techniques, like making a plaster cast of a footprint or making a cabinet skin.

In the appendices are notes about the British Young Naturalists Association Merit Award Scheme, sadly now defunct, though I did notice awards for older British naturalists on : http://www.bna-naturalists.org/awards.html, including the Peter Scott Memorial Award, and the British Naturalists’ Association does do a lot of work with schools. See: http://www.bna-naturalists.org/education.html. However, there is no reason the guidelines to the different levels of the awards in this book could not be used for personal development!

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There are also useful lists of natural history books and magazines; sources for natural history equipment and supplies sources; natural history organizations, field study centres and bird observatories; and finally, British museums focusing on natural history, including the wonderful Natural History Museum in London, which we visited with our children in 1994 and where we bought our copy of the next book!

The Amateur Naturalist by Gerald and Lee Durrell 1982

We were reared on books written by Gerald Durrell (1925-1995), who was our generation’s equivalent to today’s David Attenborough. We were also lucky enough to visit his Rare and Endangered Species Zoo on Jersey on that same trip. See: https://www.jersey.com/durrell-wildlife-park and https://www.durrell.org/wildlife/visit/.

This wonderful practical guide to the natural world has a slightly different approach to the last book. Rather than dividing the topic up into the different components of natural history (rocks, insects, birds, shell etc), it explores all the different habitats from the home ground (always a good place to start!), to meadows and hedgerows; shrub and grasslands; desert and tundra; deciduous and coniferous woodlands; tropical forest; mountains; ponds and streams and marshland; coastal wetlands, cliffs and dunes; and smooth and rocky shores.

Throughout each entry are descriptions, illustrations and colour photographs of each habitat and its inhabitants, and suggestions for further exploration and experiments. For example, the section on Home Ground includes attics and cellars, spiders and mice and the garden and orchard and all its inhabitants, as well as signs of unseen guests; spiders and their webs; creating a wildlife garden; bird feeders and nesting boxes; and how to make a pitfall trap, while Meadows and Hedgerows includes information on butterfly flight patterns; collecting butterflies; attracting and trapping moths; making a plant profile and trapping and studying small mammals.

There is also an introductory chapter on becoming a naturalist with a brief history of evolution and ecology and information on essential equipment in the field, which is later expounded upon in depth in the back section of the book. Also covered in this section are the following topics:

Setting up a workroom;

Microscopes and dissection;

Home photography;

Preserving methods;

Plant anatomy; drying and pressing flowers; studying fungi, lichens, mosses and liverworts; bark, leaves and fruit; and tree anatomy;

Green houses and propagation;

Terrariums and aquariums;

Mounting and displaying specimens;

Feathers and nests;

Pellet identification;

Taxidermy;

Wildlife ponds;

Breeding butterflies and moths;

Wormeries and formicariums (ant farms);

Tadpoles;

Keeping animals; and the

Care of injured creatures.

The book finishes with a classification table of the different Kingdoms, with brief descriptions and illustrations; a chapter on the future; a glossary of natural history terms, suggestions for further reading and a list of useful addresses, including organizations, specialist bookshops and sources for equipment and supplies.

It’s a fascinating book and serves its subject well. One couldn’t fail to be absorbed and enthused by this wonderful book!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (503)

It is also well worth reading his delightful and inspiring trilogy about his childhood and development as a naturalist in The Corfu Trilogy: My Family and Other Animals; Birds, Beasts and Relatives; and The Garden of the Gods; and the excellent authorized biography: Gerald Durrell by Douglas Botting 1999, from which I borrowed the quote at the bottom of this post from Page xv of the preface.

And finally, two inspirational books, celebrating our wonderful planet and its amazing natural history!

Observations of Wildlife by Peter Scott 2011

Peter Scott (1909-1989) is another conservation hero of ours, from a similar time period to Gerald Durrell. Son of Scott of the Antarctic and god-son of J.M Barrie (Peter Pan fame), Peter used his privilege and connections to further the cause of wildlife and environment, founding the Severn Wildfowl Trust, Slimbridge (now known as the Slimbridge Wetland Centre. See: http://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/), which we also visited in 1994 with our children, as well as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

In 1973, he was the first person to be knighted for services to conservation and the environment. Not only was he an environmental champion, but also lived life to the full, being an accomplished artist and the British National Gliding Champion in 1963 and a top yachtsman, winning a bronze medal for sailing in the 1936 Olympic Games. And he was modest and appreciative as well!!!

His watercolour paintings and sketches of wild geese, swans, ducks and coastal birds on land and in flight, as well as tropical fish, marine life and other animals are absolutely beautiful and accompany chapters about his life and love of birds; his development as an artist and naturalist; the founding of the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge and the WWF; his travels and encounters and his philosophy and concerns for the planet. A very beautiful book indeed!

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The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins 2009

Highlighting the awe-inspiring wonders and beauty of nature and evolution, it was written as a counter-attack to creationists, followers of the erroneously-named ‘intelligent design’ and all those who still question evolution as a scientific fact.

Richard Dawkins supports the argument for evolution with living examples of natural selection in birds and insects, the time clocks of trees and radioactive dating, which calibrates a time scale for evolution to clues in the fossil record and molecular biology and molecular genetics.

Chapters cover scientific theory and fallibility; artificial selection and domestication; macroevolution; the age of the earth and the geological time scale; the fossil record; human evolution; developmental biology; biogeography and plate tectonics; the tree of life, homology and analogy; vestigiality and unintelligent design; and co-evolution and the evolutionary arms race.

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Richard Dawkins is so articulate and explains everything so clearly and rationally, both in his writing and verbal speeches. It is worth listening to the following YouTube clip, as a taster to the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrgmHWg5wq0.

My next set of book posts in late September will be examining our origins and brief history on Planet Earth, but in the meantime, I am returning to our Winter Garden next week, followed by posts on one of my favourite types of Old Roses, the Noisettes and my most favourite Australian Old Rose garden of all : Walter Duncan’s Heritage Garden, at Clare, South Australia.

I will finish this post with an excerpt from this eloquent and beautiful letter (31 July 1978) from Gerald Durrell to his future wife Lee, which describes his awe and wonder of nature and our very special planet:

‘I have seen a thousand moons: harvest moons like golden coins, winter moons as white as ice chips, new moons like baby swans’ feathers…I have felt winds as tender and warm as a lover’s breath, winds straight from the South Pole, bleak and wailing like a lost child…I have known silence: the implacable stony silence of a deep cave; the silence when great music ends… I have heard tree frogs in an orchestration as complicated as Bach singing in a forest lit by a million emerald fireflies. I have heard the cobweb squeak of the bat, wolves baying at a Winter’s moon… I have seen hummingbirds flashing like opals round a tree of scarlet blooms. I have seen whales, black as tar, cushioned on a cornflower sea. I have lain in water warm as milk, soft as silk, while around me played a host of dolphins…All this I did without you. This was my loss…’

Books on Specific Types of Gardens : Part Two : Vegetable Gardens; Sustainable and Organic Gardens; and Dry Climate Gardens .

Continuing on from my post last week, I am now focusing on vegetable gardens, organic and sustainable gardens and dry climate gardens, all of which are highly inter-related. In our view, vegetable gardens should only ever be organic and sustainable, as they contain the very food we eat, not to mention the importance of these concepts for our environment and the natural world around us! While most of the books are Australian, a few are written by English authors, notably Christopher Lloyd,  Joy Larkom and Jane Taylor. We might discuss the books by the first two writers first.

Gardener Cook by Christopher Lloyd 1997 was one of our early vegetable garden books and is a lovely introduction to the world of vegetable growing! His chapters on fruit trees, soft fruits, root vegetables, green vegetables, salads and herbs include delicious recipes and mouth-watering photographs by Howard Sooley. They include information on all the different types of fruit and vegetables; their varieties; cultivation and storage and lots of personal anecdotes.  An essential book for the gardener-cook and anyone who loves food!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-398

Christopher actually quotes from my next book: The Salad Garden by Joy Larkom 1984. It is a comprehensive guide to all things salad: creating salad gardens; the cultivation of salad greens; garden practices like raising from seed; sowing outdoors and indoors; germination; manures and compost; weeding; mulching and watering; greenhouses, cloches and container gardening; and pests and diseases; as well as specific techniques for salad plants like blanching; seed sprouting and cut-and-come-again; salad making – the different types of salad, preparation and presentation and delicious recipes for different salads and their dressings; and a large section on specific salad plants and their components – leaves; stems and stalks; fruits; bulbs, roots and tubers; cooked and cold legumes and potatoes; and the use of herbs, flowers and wild plants. The appendix includes salad crops for special situations; plants for saladini crops, a glossary and facts about salad crops, including their vitamin content, seed life, germination temperature and fertility index. It was written at a time, when Australia’s culinary world was suddenly and markedly expanding and has such a wealth of information, that I am not surprised that it was in Christopher Lloyd’s library!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd30image-401The Cook’s Garden : From the Garden to the Table by Caroline Gunter and Karen Green 2000 is an Australian Women’s Weekly publication and has its typically high standard! After a brief examination of planning for production and cultivation for success (including recipes for home-made sprays), it follows a seasonal pattern with a seasonal diary of picking and planting chores for each different climate zone (temperate and cool; subtropical and Mediterranean; and tropical) and detailed notes on the fruit and vegetables grown in each season, including their cultivation in the garden and their preparation and presentation for the table. It is a very practical and useful publication and has some delicious recipes. It finishes with a brief chapter on preserving the season’s abundance including freezing; bottling and drying, as well as a map of world climate zones.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-399

Diggers Club also produces wonderful books on heirloom gardens, especially vegetables! The Australian Vegetable garden: What’s Old is New by Clive Blazey 1999 is one of their excellent publications. Clive is a passionate advocate for heirloom varieties of vegetables, because of their superior flavour, longer harvest period and disease resistance, not to mention their decorative qualities! In this informative book, he discusses the value and importance of heirloom varieties; different vegetable gardening styles; space-saving; and growing basics – the soil; water; mulch; temperature and heat; as well as seed sowing and saving. He provides a calendar and plan for growing a year’s supply of food in just 42 square metres and another one for seed sowing. And he discusses each heirloom vegetable in depth, including its historical background; varieties; preparation and management. There are so many varieties which I had never even heard of!  Apparently, Diggers have over 112 commercial and heirloom varieties of tomatoes. One day, I would love to grow their Moon and Stars watermelon , an old American variety!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-400Organic Gardening by Peter Bennett , first published in 1979, is another very important and seminal book for the organic vegetable gardener. We have the 6th edition, dated 1999, but there is now a new revised 7th edition, published 2006. Peter is THE authority on organic gardening in Australia and a forerunner of the current sustainable and environmental movements. Even though he has since died, he can still be seen in this You Tube clip at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua6Or0-W9W4. In his wonderful book, he talks about all the wonderful creatures that make up the life of the garden; the living soil; the preparation and maintenance of the organic garden; the use of natural fertilizers and acceptable alternatives to dangerous pesticides; composting; community gardens; and the organic cultivation of many different types of vegetables, fruits and flowers. His appendixes include photographs of useful tools and accessories for organic gardening, a table of the composition of compost ingredients; another table of the minimum depth of container required for growing vegetables in containers; a sowing guide for flowers and vegetables, including the best months for sowing in tropical/ subtropical, temperate and cold climates; best sowing method (seedbed or direct); the sowing depth for seeds; the number of days it takes for seedlings to emerge; the distance to thin seedlings apart; and the number of weeks till flowering for type of flower or vegetable. There is also a list of Goods and Services referred to in the book. This is an essential book for all gardeners! I cannot recommend it highly enough and the fact that it has sold more than 160,000 copies since it was first published in 1979 supports my claim!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-402

Now for another very important book, Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison 1988. Bill Mollison (1928 – 2016) was the co-founder of the permaculture concept, along with David Holmgren, from 1972 to 1974. The first classes in permaculture started in 1981 and since then, thousands of people from all over the world have studied this concept. It is now practised in over 20 countries, providing  wonderful hope for the future.

Permaculture, a term coined from two words ‘permanent agriculture’, is defined in the book as ‘the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems, which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people, providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.’ Its principles include: working with nature, rather than against it; the problem is the solution; make the least change for the greatest possible effect; the yield of the system is theoretically unlimited ; and everything makes its own garden and has an effect on its own environment. It relies on cycles; pyramids and food webs; complexity and connections; diversity; stability and harmony and self-regulation.

Permaculture garden designs are based on flow patterns and zones:

Zone 1 (ideally ¼ acre for a family of four) is the most intensively used space in the immediate area of the house and can include vegetables and salad greens with a short growing season; small trees with commonly used fruits like lemons; worm farms; workshops and sheds; glasshouses, cold frames and propagation areas; rainwater tanks; fuel for heating like gas and wood; and small animal pens eg rabbits.

Zone 2 (ideally 1 acre for a family) is also used  intensively, but less than Zone 1 and  includes perennials and vegetables with a longer growing season; fruit trees and orchards; compost bins; bee hives; ponds; chook pens and enclosures for larger animals requiring regular attention.

Zone 3 (4 to 20 acres) is farmland for main farming crops; orchards of large trees like oaks and nut trees; livestock grazing by cattle and sheep; and water storage dams.

Zone 4 can be any size and contains wild and partly managed land for the collection of wild foods; timber production; a source of animal forage and more pasture for grazing animals.

And finally, Zone 5 is unmanaged wild and natural ecosystems with bushland, forest and wilderness conservation areas for observation; meditation and reconnection with nature. Hunting and gathering can occur in this zone.

Permaculture garden design also involves planning to control external incoming energies like wind, sun angles, unwanted views and danger from fires and floods, using a number of strategies to block, channel or open up an area to their impact. It is a HUGE topic and an enormous door-stopper of a book, but essential reading for gardeners interested in the philosophy behind permaculture!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-404

The Permaculture Home Garden by Linda Woodrow 1996  is a much lighter, smaller, more portable and very practical book on the subject. It covers permaculture garden design based on the principles of time-and-motion; multiple use; working with nature; and synergy and using a seven mandala system of circles to maximize use of space and energy efficiency. She discusses : choosing a site; climate: light, temperature; wind; frost and pollutants; water; soil management; mulching, composting and worm farming; propagating plants; lunar planting; guild planting; maintaining the garden and coping with pests; building a chook dome; and the cultivation of fruit trees and a large variety of vegetables. It is a very useful book, especially for gardeners in Northern New South Wales.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-403

Two  more terrific practical permaculture guides, both of which I would not be without  and both written by gardeners in Maleny, Queensland are: You Can Have Your Permaculture and Eat It Too by Robin Clayfield 1996 and Paradise in Your Garden by Jenny Allen 2002. Robin has practised permaculture since 1983 and lives at Crystal Waters Permaculture Village in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. This great publication is a fantastic book to dip into at random, with snippets of information on permaculture principles,  garden design and techniques; sustainability; natural pest control; cash crops; health and diet; food combining; natural cosmetics; food preservation; bulk cooking; bush tucker; gift giving; and even party games; all with lots of wonderful recipes from herbal teas to soups, nibbles and dips; salads and main courses; and desserts and party nights. It is a wonderfully generous book and has such a wealth of information to explore and digest! For more about Robin, see: http://dynamicgroups.com.au/ and  https://permacultureprinciples.com./post/permaculture-pioneer-robin-clayfield/.

blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-405Paradise in Your Garden is a beautiful book, both visually and creatively! Jenny uses photographs and experience gleaned from her own garden  to illustrate the  basic permaculture principles of multiple use; zoning; smart placement; elevational planning; diversity; recycling resources; homemade insurance; using nature’s gifts and seeing solutions, instead of problems. It’s an inspiring book, with lots of fun, imaginative ideas like aspirational trees; mediation areas; hammocks and swings; firepits and water features; places for wildlife; kids’ gardens; healing gardens and even an aphrodisiac garden! She has a large section on garden design and understanding site factors like sun and wind; weeds and stormwater; soil types; frost; and noise, providing an 18 point design checklist and techniques for managing these factors, like creating microclimates by managing Summer sun; building effective  windbreaks; managing soil, water, frost and weeds; and reducing annoying noises. She discusses integrated pest management and  smart use of monetary and time resources. Her descriptions of exciting and unusual edible plants and bush foods makes you want to go straight out and plant them and she also includes some great project ideas from sheet mulching and lasagne gardening (no-dig); building herb spirals, ponds, swales and paths; making worm farms, compost heaps and home brews for plants (comfrey tea); and planting green manure and cover crops. In the back of the book is a list of useful resources and recommended reading. For more current information  on Jenny Allen , read this article in the Hinterland Times on the 4th May 2016 at : https://www.hinterlandtimes.com.au/2016/05/04/is-the-love-affair-over/.

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And finally, a swag of books by the wonderful and knowledgeable Jackie French, who has a wonderful organic garden in the Araluen Valley near Braidwood in Southern New South Wales. On her website (http://www.jackiefrench.com/), she describes herself an Australian author, ecologist, historian, dyslexic and honorary wombat, which is all very accurate! She was also 2014 – 2015 Australian Childrens’ Laureate and 2015 Senior Australian of the Year and is the patron of Youth Educational Support Services (YESS),which delivers the MultiLit Literacy Program, developed by Macquarie University to improve reading skills in local primary and high school students. I volunteered with this rewarding program at Bega Valley Public School in our first year here. We have nine of her books, in order of their publication:

The Wilderness Garden: Beyond Organic Gardening 1992

Jackie has a delightful enthusiastic writing style and this book focuses on how to make gardening fun by changing our approach to gardening and using new or different methods or as she coins it: ‘the wombat way of gardening’ ! She has a very commonsense, practical approach in both her gardening and writing with chapters on different gardens for different places (wet areas; dry areas; polluted areas; seaside areas; and frost zones); feeding the garden (mulch; compost; nitrogen fixation); easy garden beds (weed-mats; hanging gardens; tyre gardens; raised beds; vertical gardens; and modified jungles (I just love that concept!); organic pest and weed control; and vegetable, fruit and flower gardens, with a very useful garden calendar at the end.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-411

Backyard Self-Sufficiency 1992

This publication has been a very well-thumbed book in our house over the years. While steering the reader away from the toil of total self-sufficiency, she has some wonderful ideas for still growing a fair proportion of your own food from staples (grains, legumes, oils and sugars and sweeteners) to vegetables and fruit all year round. We particularly liked her lists on fruit for small places; footpath trees; unusual fruits; edible fences; hardy fruiters and  fruit for cold, temperate and hot climates. She also has chapters on growing in adversity; scavenging in the suburbs; small animals for small gardens; saving the surplus; and the backyard supermarket and medicine chest with lots of great recipes for cosmetics and bath products; dyes; cleaning products; and drinks (beer, cocoa, tea and coffee and coffee substitutes). Her final chapter on self-sufficiency, including her self-sufficient owner-built house, and her general philosophy of simple living resonates so strongly with us and should be a blueprint for all human beings, living in harmony with nature and all is inhabitants on this very special planet we call home. This book also finishes with a comprehensive calendar covering planting; harvesting; other jobs; pests and fruit. This is such a useful book!

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Switch : Home-based Power, Water and Sewerage Systems For The Twenty-First Century by Jackie French and Bryan Sullivan 1994

This little book expands on the concept of the self-sufficient integrated house and gets down to the practical nitty-gritty of ways to actually achieve this. It examines home-based power systems (solar, wind, steam, petrol or diesel, hydro and hybrid or combined systems), as well as batteries and invertors; installation and maintenance and living with your own power system. There are separate extra chapters devoted to lights and a wide variety of appliances (power tools; vacuum cleaners; stoves; kettles and toasters; refrigerators; computers; sound systems; irons; washing machines and solar dryers, to name but a few); and heating and cooling (new house design and orientation; ventilation; insulation; greenhouses; pergolas and more active heating and cooling systems, as well as specific problems and solutions). The authors then turns their attention to water supply, including measures to reduce use; grey water systems; rainwater tanks; bores; pumping water and hot water systems. Sewage treatment is next and includes information on outdoor dunnies; septic tanks; methane digesters; composting toilets and finally garbage processing: the concept of reduce/recycle; compost; worm farms and chooks. Even though this is now quite an old book, it was cutting edge when it was first published. Renewable energy and sustainable technology and alternatives have come a long way since then (though it still has a long way to go and should have been de rigueur by now for every home!), but the basic principles are still the same and this is still a very valuable little book.

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The Earth Gardener’s Companion: A Month-by-Month Guide to Organic Gardening 1996

Exactly what it pupports to be! A very comprehensive month-by-month guide to organic planting and harvesting and pest control solutions, with some wonderfully obscure recipes along the way from culinary delights like Chinese pickled vegetables, soy cheese and beetroot flour to chilli massage oil and even a chilli bosom enhancer!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-413

Making Money From Your Garden 1997

This is another Earth Garden magazine publication and its treatise on ‘Time or Money’ is sufficient reason alone to own this book. We have photocopied and shared that article so many times in our lives, as it is the basic creed by which we live! While sufficient money is important, so you are not stressing out your little brain constantly, ‘sufficient’ being the key word here, time is a far more valuable and precious commodity, which is often under-valued in today’s busy world with its hectic lifestyles! While money may have been a constant challenge for us, we have raised a family to adulthood and always met our basic needs, and our lives have been very rich and fulfilled, with time for creativity, family fun and relaxation. In this book, Jackie shares so many ideas and recipes for making a living from your home and garden from selling surplus or gourmet produce, seeds, potted trees and bush tucker; herbs; bonsai; flowers; and animal produce to making garden gnomes, topiary pots and  terrariums; natural bath products, cosmetics and cleaning products; paper and textile crafts and of course, delicious culinary delights to opening your garden or providing accommodation or a much-needed service like child-minding; home or specialist catering; garden design; or running kids’ parties. So many wonderful suggestions….!!!

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Growing Flowers Naturally  1997

The world of flowers is such an enormous and magical subject, it requires a whole book of its very own! They speak to the soul and fulfil the human desire for beauty! Like Jackie state in her introduction, one can never feel poor when surrounded by beautiful flowers, especially when they are straight from your own home garden! This sentiment applies to home-grown vegies too!!!  After citing a dozen good reasons to grow flowers, Jackie explores flower magic; popular native flowers; cut flowers; drying flowers; roses; bulbs, corms and rhizomes;  perennial and herbaceous borders; and climbers, shrubs and trees, before delving into the practical advice about starting a flower garden; different ways of growing flowers; flower problems and their solutions; and propagating flowers. She even covers medicinal flowers and includes recipes for perfumes, skin and hair products, and flower food. She finishes with an alphabetically ordered flower compendium with notes on their description; requirements; sowing times and potential problems. I’d forgotten how good this book was!

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Seasons of Content: A Year in the Southern Highlands 1998 is a lovely dreamy read, which should possibly be part of next month’s post on inspirational gardens, but I am including it here, amongst Jackie French’s other books! Written in the form of a diary, it describes a year in the Araluen Valley, following the seasons and enjoying all that nature has to offer. It’s a delightful read, as well as being packed with delicious recipes! Equally good to read all at once or dip into for a quick revitalizing pick-me-up!

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How To Guzzle Your Garden 1999 is a great book for kids and for inspiring the gardeners of the future! Linking gardens with food and eating is a brilliant and inspired decision, and such an obvious notion when you stop to think about kids! As a very popular childrens’ author, Jackie knows what turns kids on and this book is so much fun for a kid to read! I also love the pencil sketches by her illustrator Judith Rossell! The book is written in a question-answer format. It addresses making jam, cordials and sweet treats and eating edible weeds and flowers and bush foods, as well as the more practical aspects of planting from seed and pips; tree planting; and making compost.

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There are also lots of fun projects like growing plants in joggers, bottles and boxes; growing an apple tree in an orange; and making an egghead with watercress seeds or shrunken heads from apple cores. I blame Jackie for my daughter’s optimistic (and we thought doomed!) decision to grow a pineapple in a pot from the discarded top and leaves in the depths of the Armidale Winter, but would you believe, it did actually produce a small pineapple on our move to the warmer subtropical climes of Dorrigo !blogspecific-garden-bksreszd50image-423blogspecific-garden-bksreszd50image-423-copyThe Best of Jackie French  2000 Our final book and a culmination of over 30 years of gardening wisdom, this book is typical of all her other books- light-hearted and fun, enthusiastic and inspiring; practical and knowledgeable and incredibly generous with recipes, not to mention eminently readable! There is SO MUCH in this book, I will have to leave it to you to peruse at your leisure!!! Suffice to say Jackie has been a wonderful ambassador for sustainability, self-sufficiency and organic gardening!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-412

Sustainability is a such an important issue, especially nowadays with the increased incidence of droughts and rising temperatures associated with global warming. The following books shed light on ways of dealing with our uncertain future and all the challenges it issues.

Earth Garden, the publisher of two of Jackie French’s books, has also produced a publication called The Earth Garden Water Book 2004, with lots of interesting articles by Earth Garden magazine contributors and readers on  water collection, purifying, conservation, reuse and recycling and water-saving tips.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-422

Readers’ Digest elaborates on these principles in their book Waterwise Gardening 2010 with chapters on climate; soil; waterwise garden design; waterwise plants; wise use of water; plant care and maintenance and a waterwise plant guide.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-419

And finally, two increasingly important books when it comes to choosing plants, which can cope with hotter and drier climates:

Even though Jane Taylor is English, her book: The Dry Garden: Gardening With Drought-Tolerant Plants 1993 focuses on Australian gardens and includes many Australian natives. It was published just before the start of the Millenium Drought (late 1996 to mid 2010) in South-Eastern Australia, so was a very useful book during that period. She briefly discusses dry climates and drought; plant mechanisms for coping with lack of water and the maintenance of dry climate gardens (including notes on soil; planting; windbreaks; lawn and lawn substitutes; and irrigation techniques), but the majority of her book is devoted to an in-depth discussion of over 1000 drought-tolerant plants of all types: trees and shrubs; conifers; palms and cycads; climbers; perennials and ephemerals; grasses and bamboos; bulbs; and succulents and xerophytes, the latter being plants especially adapted to dry conditions. In the back are lists of plants with special characteristics: bold and lush foliage; sword-shaped leaves; fragrance; wind-tolerance; and horizontal growth, making them ideal for ground-covers. It certainly is an inspiring book and offers hope and optimism for future gardens which, although different, can still be beautiful havens.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-421

Plants For a Changing Climate by Trevor Nottle 2004/ 2011, an Australian garden writer and historian, who has also written books on cottage gardening, perennials and old roses, which I have already discussed in Part 1 Specific Gardens last week and favourite Rose Books. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/03/21/books-on-specific-types-of-gardens-part-one-cutting-gardens-cottage-gardens-and-herb-gardens/ and https://candeloblooms.com/2017/01/10/fabulous-rose-books/ . Being a South Australian gardener, Trevor has had to cope with a hot, dry climate for over 30 years and is well-versed in Mediterranean-style gardening. Unfortunately, with climate change and global warming, the rest of us will have to adjust to a different style of gardening, less dependent on unfettered water use and more appropriate to future climatic conditions. In the introduction to his second edition and concluding chapter, Trevor examines the future implications, especially for gardeners, in great depth and offers possible solutions for the challenges ahead. He has divided his plants into a number of chapters with interesting titles : Shademakers; Statement Makers; Structure makers; Scent Makers; Silver Superstars; Useful Food Plants and Vegetables; Super-Special Plants; Geraniums; Succulents; Perfect Perennials; Roses and Other Pricklies; Little Potted Histories; Surprises From Last Summer and a Motley Crew of 10 of his favourite plants. Trevor is so knowledgeable about Mediterranean plants and so generous with that knowledge. It is a great addition to any horticultural library and is particularly pertinent in contemporary gardens.blogrosebooks25reszdimage-234

Next month, I will share some beautiful dreamy and inspirational garden books from our library, as well as some fascinating books about gardening and plants!