Books for the container gardener: "The weekend gardener" by Monty Don

As I am writing this, dusk has set which means I cannot see the rain anymore. Today was grey, dull and rainy and screamed for cuddling up on the couch with a cozy blanket, a cup of tea and some homemade biscuits. Shortbread with gingerbread spice... perfect. 

As I was getting ready for the big cuddle-up, I looked at my bookshelf for something to read and came across Monty Don's "The weekend gardener". Though the book is meant for people with a "real" garden, I still enjoy reading in it a lot and want to share with you why.

Do you already know who Monty Don is? No? Ok, just a very brief recap here. First off, he knows his gardening. He is presenting the BBC program "Gardener's World" for years now and in the program, let's us have a glance at how he is caring for his own garden at his home called "Longmeadow". He also has written more books and presented various other TV programs on gardening over the past years. See, he really knows gardening. If you want to know more about him, feel free to google away... but not quite yet. First, let's get cracking on with the book. 

"The weekend gardener" was first published in 1995, the paperback version followed in 1997. Both were published by Bloomsbury. I got my copy at Amazon as a second hand book. I like to buy second hand because it saves me money and so far, all books I have purchased second hand via Amazon were in mint condition. 
(Note: This post is not sponsored by Amazon, but I do have an aStore link where you can see recent purchases. Just click on the "Reading Nook" page under the Blog header.)

The book is divided into two parts, basically. In the first chapters, you will find general information about constructing you own garden. He helps you with understanding planning, design and tools.

The next part of the book then is divided following the 12 months of the year. Each month gets it's own chapter and every chapter is subdivided into tasks to do at two weekends each month. The idea is that by working in the garden on just two weekends every month, one can have a beautiful garden and still keep time for other things. 
Each chapter aka month also starts with an overview of plants at their prime so you get an idea of what is looking best when, helping with creating a visually interesting garden all year through. And last but not least, he covers all kinds of important topics like composting, hedge-planting, pests and many more added to the chapter / month that they are most prominent in.

So why do I think that this book is a helpful read also for us container gardeners?

  • It covers general points that also apply to container gardens. Like design. If you start you container garden, no matter how small, it always will look so much more coherent if you have a specific design in mind. Think about what you are drawn to: modern and minimal, rural, shabby chic, mediterranean? How can you emulate this? How can you keep the container planting visually interesting? Consider different heights and structures of foliage, flowers and of course, a general color scheme.  
  • It provides information about house plants, conservatories, seeding seeds, bulbs... All of which are topics that I was looking at as well. 
  • It works with a seasonal scheme explaining what has to be done when. If you are just starting on gardening, this is great advice. 
  • It introduces lots of plants you may have not heard of before AND tells you which plants to use best for which part of the year. Yes, there are plants flowering in winter and there are some spectacular ornamental grasses which can also be used on the balcony. 
 Taken together, I think that this book is a great source of information for container gardeners and "regular" gardeners alike. It provides a straight-forward approach that ensures a beautiful display all year through and who would not want that. I always thought how sad it is that come autumn, people with balconies clean up their containers and store them leaving sad, empty balconies behind.Yes, the days are getting shorter but we still look outside the window every once in a while. Honestly, I would rather like to look at some display of grasses and shrubs than at grey concrete. This book will help you achieve just that.

So grab a cup of tea, cuddle up and use the winter to get inspired. Then, next spring you are ready to transform you balcony into the all-year long beauty you have always been dreaming of.