Book Review: “Gardening Basics for Dummies” by Steven A. Frowine

Borrowed this book from the library and pave the foundation for my newly acquired hobby: gardening. I learned a few things. Most of them are general enough and give you a broad view of the gardening discipline. Gardening is hard work. No doubt about it and yet there are so much science and myths around them. This is a good reference book who enjoys a little gardening. It’s not detailed enough for you to know anything in great depth but most flower gardener will find this book useful.

Part 1 familiarizes you with anatomy of plants. Defines the basic terms: annuals vs. perennials, bulbs, shrubs, trees and etc. So many different kinds of flower can be overwhelming. Would be good to have a picture for each of the flower. There is a chapter on planting your garden to suit your purpose. Now I come to appreciate the landscape architect. They have to know all the different plants and when each plant bloom and how they co-exist with others and their projected mature look. Takes a lot of experience. That’s why they call him/her “Master Gardener.” One must account for the climate and how each plant adapt to the local climate. Chapter 4 covers what the plants need: soil, compost, mulch, watering system, and drainage. Chapter 5 goes into the gardening tools/gears. I learned about hoe, dibbles, lopper, and others.

Part 2 goes into great lengths in flowers and foliage. I believe this is the strength of the book. The author seems to be specialized in flowers, which most people are interested in. Chapter 6 covers the annuals and Chapter 7 perennials, Chapter 8 bulbs (informative as I wasn’t familiar with bulbs especially there are true bulbs, corms, rhizomes, tubers, and tuberous roots). Chapter 9 has lots of information about roses. There are so many different kinds of roses.

Part 3 entails the “permanent landscape.” All about lawn in Chapter 10. And then Chapter 11 is all about trees and shrubs. A bit skimpy in details but trees are a wide topic. Chapter 12 covers the climbers and crawlers.

Part 4 touches on vegetables and produces, herbs, fruits, berries, and nuts. There are general tips and avoiding pests for each kind of plant. Very general.

Part 5 touches on container gardening, which is just a special case of gardening. There is another for-dummies book on container gardening that’s better. Chapter 17 mentions gardening with ponds and fish.

Part 6 is called “Part of Ten” – the bonus section: top 10 common questions are answered, ten quick projects, and ten gardening projects for kids.