The Most Rewarding and Empowering Book

By George Graine, Fairfax Master Gardener
“A modest garden contains, for those who know how to look and to wait, more instruction than a library.” –Henri Frederic Amiel

If you are familiar with Southern Living magazine, then you may note that Steven Bender is the garden editor. His new book, “The Grumpy Gardener: An A to Z Guide from the Galaxy’s Most Irritable Green Thumb” (Oxmoor House, 2017) is a compilation of articles, blog posts, essays and answers to reader questions. His goal is to help both novice and veteran gardeners have a nice yard that pleases them. He truly hits the mark with this book.

Grumpy Gardener book coverWhat’s not to like about Grumpy? He tells it like it is with wit and without using ugly expletives that have become commonplace in reading these days. His book is written with gardening topics in alphabetical order, where you will find pithy and helpful comments about your favorite and not so favorite plants and more. You may not always agree with Grumpy; however, this is an opinion book and his thoughts are reasonably well researched. They will make you smile and on occasion you might frown. The text is laced with sidetracks and sidebars including some amusing questions and answers from and to Southern Living magazine readers. We can all benefit from these items. One might think that Grumpy’s book reads as if it were like a radio talk show on steroids. As an example, the “N” section has a piece about Native Plants. If these plants whet your horticultural appetite, you may get a hissy fit about how Grumpy opines about them. He says “…we encourage the gardening public not to dogmatically eschew all non-native plants but to choose the right plant for the right spot, regardless of its origin.” Hmm, is this heresy to the native plant society crowd or does this read like the gardener’s mantra?

When reading a horticultural book that is in alphabetical order, perhaps a thought comes to mind concerning how Grumpy discusses the letters X-Y-Z. For some of us, X is easy — xeriscaping. This is the Greek word for water-wise gardening or if you like “zero-scaping.” What about Y? That is an easy one also — Yucca. Recently this plant has become popular and is readily available at full service garden centers. Look for the attractive variegated yucca ‘Color Guard’ or ‘Bright Edge.’ For