BOOK REVIEW: Ground Rules

Ground Rules by Kate Frey, Sustainable Gardener
Hamilton Public Library: 635 FRE

So many gardening books seem to follow a formula, giving similar instructions, in similar formats.  Ground Rules by Kate Frey feels different.  This book doesn’t read like a collection of rules, but more a collection of wisdom.  As the book’s cover states, the lessons within are easy steps to growing gloriously.  The numbered “rules” don’t feel limiting, more like intimate notes left by a garden guru mentor just for you, and the book is laid out in such a way that the most important info is conveyed in bold headings, not buried in dense paragraphs or multi-part instructions.

The book is divided into chapters, yes… but the broad categories cover a huge range of topics in an unconventional order.  Wandering from traditional (Planning Your Paradise) to esoteric (The Joy of Plants) with blunt honesty (The Real Dirt), wisdom (Be Wise With Water) and practical advice (How to Be A Good Garden Parent), Kate Frey encourages us to support our wild garden friends (Birds, Bees, and Butterflies) and our inner selves (A Garden of Earthly Delights) all within one tidy, charming book.

As someone working in the horticulture and garden industry, I can tell you the tips in this book are really really good.  This is the sort of wisdom that is circulated between professionals, passed from teacher to student, and gifted to homeowners by their gardeners.

Rule 15: Don’t buy rootbound plants.

Rule 41: Not all mulches are equal.

Rule 58: For a (relatively) weed-free garden, don’t let a single weed go to seed.

Rule 70: Cardboard to the rescue.

Rule 96: Learn how to create emotion in the garden.

Admittedly, none of this information is rocket-science, nor is it new… but too often I see these important gems buried in pages of useless or superfluous text.  Ground Rules distills years of garden wisdom into the most important seeds you need to get planting.