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The Garden Primer: Second Edition Paperback – February 28, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This comprehensive compendium of gardening facts, helpful hints and earthy advice is an unusually readable, user-friendly gardening encyclopedia. The book's first section covers the basics of what a gardener needs to get started: principles of landscape design, What Plants Need, gardening gear and how to buy plants. Damrosch, who aims to answer as many questions about gardening as possible, gives more than the standard instructions for making compost and buying pruning tools; she includes details like parts of plants and a comprehensive guide to botanical names that give beginning gardeners an unusually sophisticated and scientific footing. Her intimate, up-to-date, down-to-earth writing is distinctly rooted in the garden, with humor born of experience: A garden hose is like a lover that you can't live with and can't live without. No scientific advance, to my knowledge, has yet tamed its willful nature. With sections on annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, fruits, bulbs, lawns, trees and even houseplants, to name a few, and with specifics for individual plants in each section, this book will be a useful addition to the collections of seasoned gardeners as well as novices. (Apr.)
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From the Back Cover

Remarkably complete, this is the one: the indispensable one-volume reference guide to gardening simply, beautifully and well. It is jam-packed with useful information, old-fashioned common sense, and a lifetime's worth of experience, and is thoroughly revised and expanded to be 100 percent organic in its recommendations. Updated with the latest on plants, soils, techniques, and tools, it includes: The basics of landscaping, emphasizing sustainable methods. Understanding what plants need and avoiding complex rules and formulas. How to choose and combine flowers for season-long color, orchestrating with perennials and accenting with annuals. Extending the season - that's right, harvest carrots in January. The secret to raising roses without fuss, less demanding lawns, vines with discipline, and trees that will enhance your property. There is new information on native species, and all the gardening resources you need—explained in a voice that "has the snap of a good snowpea and the spice of an old rose"
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 820 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; 2 edition (February 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761122753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761122753
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Twenty years ago I remember discovering Barbara Damrosch's The Garden Primer at the local library. It was full of practical advice dispensed in such an engaging manner and I ended up buying myself a copy. The Garden Primer is a rare exception of a gardening book that can benefit gardeners no matter where they live. It is especially helpful to novice gardeners who want to start a garden but are not exactly sure where to begin.

The first chapters deal with the basics - what plants need in order to grow properly, how to prepare your soil, starting your own seeds, proper planting methods and how to deal with insects and diseases. A chapter on gardening gear covers tools, what to wear and how to organize it all.

Damrosch then goes into plant specifics with chapters on Annuals, Perennials, Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, Bulbs, Roses, Lawns, Ground Covers, Vines, Shrubs, Tree, Wildflowers and Houseplants. Each section discusses how to buy plants, how to plan your site (with some planting scheme plans included), how to grow the plants and maintain them. She then includes an encyclopedia of specific plants with descriptions and basic growing advice. The vegetable section is even more extensive with details on growing and harvesting. If plants are more suited to certain areas of the country, it is mentioned.

Another element of this book that I enjoy are the wonderful illustrations. They are black-and-white, simple and yet so effective. And I'm so glad they kept the illustration of the garden shed on the endsheets. I've always admired that and maybe this year I will finally get my own tools organized like it!
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Format: Paperback
My copy of "The Garden Primer" is worn, tattered, and never on the shelf with the rest of my gardening books. I refer to Barbara's sage advice for everything. It's has allowed me to try new plants, techniques, and garden designs - all without feeling I don't know what I'm doing. It's like having a master gardener watching over you.
Be forewarned though - she writes most (if not all) of her gardening experience from a Connecticut/zone 5 background. Those in the desert regions of Arizona may find most her advice useless.
Buy it - you'll never need another gardening book again.
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Format: Paperback
Barbara Damrosch is a self-confirmed 'old-fashioned dirt gardener.' And, she's does organic gardening to boot. This book is a comprehensive, easily understood guide to all aspects of gardening; it even includes a chapter on houseplants.

I like that Damrosch prefers hand tools over power tools. And, that she uses her hands to pull weeds at times.

The chapter on "what plants need," was terrific--covers the basics and gave me a firm understanding of what plants require to thrive.

The book contains all you need to grow annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, trees, shrubs and vines.

Indispensable!

from the author of the award winning book, Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify and Energize Your Life, Your Home and Your Planet
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Format: Paperback
My copy of Barbara Damrosch's "Garden Primer" is splattered with mud and rain and has seeds stuck in the binding. This is not a coffee table book. This is a read it, use it book. There are no pretty photographs; there are no photographs. Just great road-tested advice on soil, tools, flowers, vegetables, shrubs, etc. No one subject is covered in depth, however, it covers every subject well and gets right to most important information. Like the "Joy of Cooking" in the kitchen, this is your all-purpose, when-do-I-plant- the-broccoli, how-do-I-spray-the-roses, where-do-I-put-the-fig-tree, kind of book. Would make an excellent housewarming gift for first time homeowners.
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Format: Paperback
Barbara Damrosch and her husband, Eliot Coleman, are the type of teachers that I find the most helpful. They stand in your shoes and ask what would I want to know on this subject, then proceed to tell you precisely and in plain language, not only what you want to know but what you didn't even know to ask.
I've taped all their television shows on gardening and have a number of the books both of them have written, but when I walk out in the garden and see a problem, whether it be disease or bug, it is this book that is my guide. I also grab it whenever I'm planting, fertilizing or harvesting most anything.
I just put in grapes, blueberries, blackberries, honeysuckle, clematis and the only book I referred to was this one. Never intimidating, always helpful, if I could only have one gardening book, this would be it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
UPDATE: BUY THE HARDCOVER VERSION OF THIS BOOK! It is simply too large to be bound in softcover. I bought the softcover version about 3 months ago and after only moderate use, many pages have fallen right out.

I bought this book to teach me what the heck to do with the 400+ plant gardens I inherited when I bought my current home. I had little experience with plants, and even less with gardening out of containers. This book has been very valuable and helpful to me, and I refer to it often. I have several (okay, tons) of similar "all-purpose"/encyclopedic gardening books, but this is the one I refer to the most. It cuts through all the superfluous information and tells me just what I need to know, instead of completely overwhelming me. It also has a very handy section on plants (annuals, perennials, veggies, fruits, shrubs, vines, etc.) that are easier to grow than most, with care instructions, idiosyncrasies, varieties to try, etc.
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