Gardening In All Its Glory: A Book Review

New book  is a must-buy. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG
New book is a must-buy. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

The quickest way you can learn to love all aspects of gardening, from plants, trees and shrubs to organic farming, composting and designing your own kitchen garden is by reading ‘‘Gardening in Eastern Africa’’, compiled by Barry Cameron.

Kenya Horticultural Society started compiling the book in 2007. The previous edition had come out in 1995. The book finally came late in 2017 and there’s no wonder that it took a decade to produce.

The 678 page tome is encyclopedic in its chosen field. But despite its imposing size, the book is filled with fascinating stories, practical tips and a wide variety of gardener-authors who have shared their varied experience and expertise, all infused with the joy of gardening.

Don’t expect to finish this book in a single sitting. There are 34 chapters in all. They are divided into five sections: the garden environment, regional gardening, constructing the garden and special features, gardening practices and plant categories. What I especially like is that every chapter is written by a different author. Of course, several authors like Dr. Dino Martin write or co-write more than one. Someone like Anja Weber writes about both compost and the living soil (vermiculture) and organic gardening (permaculture).

It includes a personal testimony from a gardener in Tanzania who uses vermiculture (and a worm compost unit) to transform soil that lacked organic matter into fertile ground.

There are sections on gardening in Uganda, Tanzania and Coast . You’ll read about the gardens of Ruth Edwards in Arusha, the Plant Nursery at Aga Khan University by Roshan Hemani, The Erbs’ orchid, mango and avocado garden by the USA River, as well as Liz de Leyer’s garden in Iringa, Paul Latham’s garden in Umalila and coastal gardening on coral by Everard O’Donnell.