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I bought my original edition of the Garden Primer years ago, and it instantly became a favorite. Now I have the subsequent edition, which is dogeared and full of my notes. I quickly discovered that, whatever my question (aside from invading insects, etc), the Primer was always relevant. Barbara D. has a folksy, down home style of describing what she's trying to get across that makes you feel like she's right there speaking with you. That she has a great history with plants is obvious, you just couldn't write this detailed a book without getting out there and getting dirty. After all these years, it is still my #1 go-to book when I'm planting something new, need encouragement or alternate ideas. Barbara D. has done us a great service by putting her knowledge of plants to paper, and keeping the cost of the edition down while she does it. It makes an excellent gift, or a perfect first book about gardening, or even if you have a huge library of garden books, there will be times when you give up and read what the author has to say. It's also a great read --- I read it cover-to-cover to get a feeling for plants I was neglecting to include in my palette simply because I was unfamiliar with them.
As a beginning gardener (this will be year 3) this is the book I turn to most. It is like talking to an experienced gardening neighbor over the back fence. I love the easy going informative style. My copy is getting dog eared from over use. I have other garden references for soil pH and all the chemistry stuff, but this is the one that has the most meaningful information for me. I have recommended to all my gardening friends. I had the opportunity to hear Barbara speak at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity Maine last fall - and it was standing room only! She is an excellent speaker. If you get the chance to hear her speak, it is well worth the effort.
My introduction to Barbara Damrosch was through the show "Gardening Naturally" which she did with her husband, Eliot Coleman.
When I discovered her first edition of A Garden Primer, I fell in love with it. It was my "bible" for gardening. This new revised edition is even better. I'm so glad I bought it!
Everything gardening is covered from gear to vegetables to houseplants and everything inbetween from an organic/sustainable point of view with emphasis on making gardening as enjoyable and simple as possible.
The appendix alone is outstanding with listings for organizations, mail order sources, books and periodicals.
I started out with this book for my first gardening guide, mostly by chance. Though I am not widely garden-read, this is the closest I come to a garden bible. She has a fairly comprehensive plant guide. I do find that a lot of her advice is faulty for those of his in very warm, bug-infested climates (Louisiana) but just remember that and she is quite helpful.
This new edition (published 2008) is packed with information and lovely line drawings. Barbara's writing style is friendly and full of her suggestions for how to do things as well as good information on lots of specific plants. It probably won't meet the needs of an experienced gardener but would make a great gift for someone starting out, or as pleasant winter reading for anyone who loves gardens.
I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!! It has been my bible for the last three years - and it shows, with lots of dog-ears, dirt smudges, highlighted and underlined parts and a touch of water damage...:) Barbara writes in such a way that both newbies and seasoned gardeners can understand and learn from - down-to-earth, non-judgemental and just plain fun. A must read for everyone who loves to play in the dirt - um, er, ahem - soil.