4 out of 5 stars
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Alfred C. Wallace has amassed a great wealth of gardening knowledge through his experiences and observations. In Southeast Gardening, he provides readers with the essentials of what he has learned. The author is a retired military veteran and employs gardening as a peaceful and therapeutic pastime. His respect for the plants as well as the gardener is obvious in his descriptions of the best environment for the plants’ nourishment and the gardener’s enjoyment.
Finding this book was an unexpected pleasure. Like the author, I currently live in a state in the Southeast, an area the US Fish and Wildlife Service defines as the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky. Also, like the author, I moved to this area after spending many years on the West Coast. I enjoy gardening and love designing patio gardens (with varying degrees of success). I looked forward to uncovering the secrets of a vibrant garden in the area I now call home.
This read provided the essential information needed for a healthy, successful garden. In less than 100 pages, the author covered a breadth of topics with brief, educative background information and colorful pictures. The five chapters included a variety of topics, such as optimal sunlight and soil, the timing of when to plant, options for pest control, and more. The writing was smooth and well organized. Wallace led the discussion through the topics so seamlessly that I did not reference the table of contents once. I will remember many of the foundational elements covered in this concise guide, and it enriched my overall understanding of gardening. For example, the author extolled the virtues of composting in several chapters. Benefits included loosening the soil to improve water flow, reducing the pH of the soil, and using it as mulch. I stopped composting a few years ago and now have a renewed desire to start again. A glossary of terms was also included after the final chapter.
There were two minor distractions in my reading experience, however. A figure number accompanied each picture in the text, and at the end of the book, an image reference listed each figure with their associated website credit. While I appreciated the author’s diligence and the access to other gardening sites, it would have been helpful to include a caption under each picture to reinforce the point being made in the section it was displayed.
The other distraction was the title. I reviewed the PDF version of this book, which was entitled Southeast Gardening: Home Gardening Fundamentals, Potential Problems, and Solutions in Southeast America; however, in the author’s bio, the title was Southeast Gardening: Raised Bed Gardening in Southeast America. The subtitle in the PDF version more accurately reflected the contents. Regardless of the title, “Southeast” was mentioned twice, and I expected more specific information for this geographic region of the country. Except for indicating the type of soil and the pests in the area, the contents included gardening information useful anywhere. It would be unfortunate for gardeners in other parts of the country to dismiss this read, thinking it was only for one area. I did not see it currently available for purchase online, so perhaps it is not too late to use a less targeted title for the final version.
I rate Southeast Gardening 4 out of 5 stars, deducting 1 star for the distractions noted. The guide is comprehensive, understandable, and well edited. I recommend this book to all gardeners and aspiring gardeners in any geographic area. While some tips and solutions may be specific to the United States, the gardening principles covered are universal. It would also be an excellent addition to a local library or nursery.
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