I’m a huge advocate of gardening in an eco-friendly and sustainable manner. Over the past few years, more and more research has shown how powerful our gardens can be.
The days of simply viewing our gardens as pretty accessories that adorn our homes are waning. Instead, smart gardeners want a green garden — one that supports local wildlife, is a haven for birds, butterflies and bees and is beautiful.
Yes, you can have it all. But, where do you begin?
The First Step
If you live in New England, I’d suggest buying The Green Garden by Ellen Sousa. The official title of Ellen’s book tells the reader exactly what’s inside…The Green Garden: A New England Guide to Planning, Planting and Maintaining the Eco-Friendly Habitat Garden.
As book titles go, that’s a mouthful, but this book truly delivers on that promise.
Sousa’s open, accessible writing style makes the book seem more like reading a letter from a trusted friend, rather than just a book from some distant author.
She walks readers through the ins & outs of what’s actually happening in your garden, from the importance of healthy soil, to the crucial role insects play to the importance of proper plant selection.
It can be difficult for homeowners who are new to gardening all together, or even those gardeners who are making the transition to habitat gardening, to know where to start. The Green Garden is a one-stop resource that you’ll turn to again and again.
With chapters on designing your habitat garden, choosing plants for your garden, managing and maintaining your habitat garden and even dealing with unwanted wildlife, Sousa covers all the basics and more.
A Few of my Favorite Things
One of my favorite things about The Green Garden is all the lists Sousa provides. There are lists of plants that grow in clay soil (page 103); plants for urban New England gardens (page 104); plants for coastal gardens with moist soils (page 127) and even a list of plants for a moon garden (page 88).
I also like that Sousa includes a chapter on invasive plants in New England, complete with photos of the top culprits. The photos, along with brief descriptions of how the invasive plants negatively impact your garden makes it easy for readers to locate and remove these plants from their gardens.
There is also a comprehensive listing of ‘The Best Plants for New England Gardens’ with a colorful, easy-to-read key about how and where to use each plant. While I typically like to see a book include an image of every plant in a listing such as this, I’ll let The Green Garden slide.
At 224-pages, the book is substantial already. Adding a photo of all the plants listed would make the book too large and cumbersome. And frankly, I think it’s much more important for readers to see color photos of the invasive plants since they are rarely offered in books.
The Green Garden definitely deserves a place on your bookshelf. It’s an invaluable resource for those who are just starting to create a habitat garden, as well as those of us who need a quick refresher every once in a while.
Note: I was given a copy of The Green Garden by the publisher, Bunker Hill Publishing, for the express purpose of reviewing it. And, Ellen Sousa and I both write for the Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens blog. From the first time I read one of Ellen’s blog posts, I felt like I’d stumbled upon a kindred spirit. Ellen is farther along her path as a habitat gardener than I am, so I often look to her for knowledge and inspiration. Having said that, I would not have written a review of The Green Garden if I didn’t want my readers to know about the book. Instead of having to tell Ellen and her publisher that I decided not to review her book, I was thrilled to be able to tell Ellen, ‘Oh my goodness, I just LOVE your book!”.