My Garden, The City and Me

My Garden, The City and Me
Helen Babbs
Reviewed by Katie Allen
Timber Press
Wed, 15/06/2011
9781604691672
£9.99

This little book is a hymn to the pleasures of city gardening, and of making your space, however unpromising, your own.

My Garden, the City and Me: Rooftop Adventures in the Wilds of London follows a year in the life of twenty-something first-time gardener Helen Babbs as she attempts to transform a three-square-metre concrete roof terrace into a wilderness of flowers, fruit and vegetables.

Interspersed with whimsical illustrations, the book takes us through 12 months from the "special, chilly charm" of watching a fox forage in frost, to defending spring seedlings from snails and harvesting tomatoes in the October sun.

Babbs’ chatty style makes for an approachable introduction to gardening "slightly hungover, contact lens-less, hair wild and pyjama-clad" of a Saturday morning. The reader learns how to garden with her, as she nurtures her plants and laments the ones that got away.

But the book is more than a diary, as Babbs begins to explore the wildernesses of the city, and to understand the wildlife that flourishes in the hidden and not-so-hidden spots, from the marshes of east London to the city’s farms, and from eels to owls and lichen. She also scatters the book with knowledgeable observations on topics from the imminent world food crisis to the dangers facing our bee population.

Complete with lists of "a few things I grew and how they fared" as well as her "most beautiful moments" and "things to read", it would make a lovely present or inspirational guide.

Home, garden

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