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Monday, June 21, 2010

Wildlife Gardening, written by Martyn Cox. DK, Tourmaline Editions, 2009. $18.99 ages 4 and up

"Worms love gardeners' well-dug soil and in return make the soil healthy for growing plants. These incredible creatures eat decaying plant matter, which passes through their bodies and is deposited as a nutrient-rich cast (poop) near the surface. Their underground tunneling also improves drainage and allows air into the soil - all a big help to plants."

It's not been much fun doing any gardening this summer (although my friends would tell you that is no different than any other year for me). What with rain, wind, humidity and mosquitoes, there have been many deterrents to being out enjoying the fresh air and manual labor needed to make a garden grow. It is lovely to read that many people are developing a renewed interest in having their own gardens, and that wonderful volunteers in our city are creating neighbourhood gardens that benefit many.

This is another of those wonderful books from DK that help our youngest gardeners learn more about the pleasures that can be derived from getting your hands in dirt and watching what sun and water can do in our own backyards. A symbol guide will help those sharing this book.

Why be a wildlife gardener is the first question asked and answered. There is so much to learn about nature and such joy in watching plants and animals develop and flourish because of something you have created. The author introduces the garden as a habitat that sustains interactions between living things.

The basics are described and activities are provided to get started. Plants are suggested, and a pond encouraged. Creating a garden that will sustain life in the four seasons is advantageous to all. Each part of the garden is described with ideas for attracting wildlife.

A nature diary can record the changes that happen through the seasons. Readers are encouraged to keep track of weather, the date and where the gardener is sitting as the observations are recorded. What fun to be able to look back on an accurate account of a year in the wildlife garden!

A section about animal and activities provides instructions for making a butterfly house, a bathroom for birds, a stag beetle bucket and many others. There is no need to try everything all at once, but starting with just one project might prove successful and lead to trying another. Go for it!

A glossary and index follow the text.

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