Book Report

August 15th, 2006

After the discussion about Bob Flowerdew, I ordered a copy of Bob Flowerdew’s Complete Book of Companion Gardening on alibris. Just finished it last week, and I’m wondering what I thought of it. Maybe if I try to explain it to others I can figure it out for myself. Let’s examine the thing in detail.

  • Physical characteristics. I got the trade paperback version. It’s approximately 9″ x 10.5″; thick good-quality paper; pictures on nearly every page – many full-page; good amount of white space; 176 pages.
  • Organization. Foreward, Introduction, 7 Chapters, USDA Zone map, Useful Addresses, Bibliography, Index.
  • Overall impression. Good compromise between coffee table book and reading book. Well-written by a learned author who had some difficulty with the topic.

And here’s the thing that had me puzzled. It seemed to me as if this were written to satisfy the publisher’s request for a book on “companion gardening”. Or maybe Mr. Flowerdew started out with the topic in mind and then found he didn’t have enough material for 176 pages. After spending the first 147 pages trying to flesh out the topic, the last chapter begins thusly:

As I have stressed throughout this book, companion planting is a weak effect easily outweighed by factors that have a more immediate impact.

Huh? Then why write a book about it?

But that said, I found Mr. Flowerdew himself to be a knowledgeable, pleasant and helpful companion. I’ll try another book – maybe the one suggested by Kati in a comment, No Work Garden: Getting the Most Out of Your Garden for the Least Amount of Work

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