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“He who gardens best, gardens least” may be a surprising attitude for someone who cares for one of Britain’s grandest gardens, but National Trust Head Gardener Ikin firmly believes in the practice of minimal intervention when it comes to his craft. At a time when increasingly sophisticated gadgets, toxic chemicals, and invasive plants are being introduced into the horticultural marketplace, Ikin alternatively espouses a more simple and considered approach that can only come about after a gardener has mastered the essentials of good garden stewardship. In a plainly written and thoroughly accessible guide, Ikin comprehensively but succinctly covers essential topics such as organic ways to develop healthy soil, including nutrients, composting, and mulches; efficient management of water resources; ecologically sound pest management and disease control; establishment of natural wildlife habitats; and proper plant selection and placement. Accompanied by charming watercolor illustrations, Ikin’s user-friendly guidebook is a worthy basic primer for beginning gardeners and a welcome refresher course for more experienced hands. --Carol Haggas