Friday, February 6, 2009

The Elements of Organic Gardening by The Prince of Wales

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has spent more than twenty-six years transforming the grounds of the Highgrove Estate into one of the finest gardens in the world. His strict adherence to organic principles has helped shape and define a garden that is both beautiful and environmentally sound. The Prince's expertise in this area is at the heart of The Elements of Organic Gardening.

In his previous book The Garden at Highgrove, the Prince described Highgrove's development during a twenty-year period. His Royal Highness wrote of the "enormous satisfaction" he gains from gardening: "Ever since I began the garden I have planted a very large proportion of the trees and plants myself, which means that you at once develop a proprietary interest in all of them, and they become remarkably like children whom you watch growing up year by year.

In The Elements of Organic Gardening, he and Stephanie Donaldson show how to create an organic garden the Highgrove way. The Prince also applies the same organic principles in his other gardens - Birkhall in the Scottish Highlands and Clarence House in central London. Both are works in progress, with different conditions, challenges, and rewards. This book describes practical organic practices, most of which can be adapted to any garden, large or small, such as healthy soil, compost, planting, favored varieties of flowers, trees, fruits, vegetables, how to choose ornamental features, s well as how to keep pests, weeds, and diseases at bay organically. The Prince is quite hands on in the running of his garden at Highgrove. The Duchess of Cornwall is also closely involved with the planting and the garden's progress.

Beautifully illustrated with photographs by Andrew Lawson, The Elements of Organic Gardening offers a wealth of wisdom to delight and inspire any gardener.

As the Prince writes in expressing his deeply held practical and spiritual beliefs about sustainability and responsibility: "Gradually, as you look further and deeper into the processes of Nature, you begin to realize that we ourselves are a microcosm of that vast, all-encompassing - essentially ordered - living entity. And the remarkable thing is that nothing is ever wasted. There is a constant process of renewing; of death followed by rebirth; of valuable materials being provided on a constantly sustaining basis, if managed with sympathy and continuity."

He adds with great hope: "Her bounty depends for its long-term continuity on the consideration and respect we show Her. 'Stewardship' and 'husbandry' may be considered old-fashioned words, but they encapsulate precisely that sense of continuity of management that is in harmony with the perpetual natural laws and rhythms of the Universe of which we are an integral part."

I have to say that after reading this book I do like Prince Charles a bit more. I still don't particularly like him as a person, but he's grown on me. Actually Camilla has also. The book certainly makes you see them in a different light.

In any case, the book is fabulously photographed, and remarkably well written. It's fascinating to see the gardens at Highgrove and all the work that goes into them! It's also interesting to see the gardens from the point of view of someone in a different climate zone.

This one gets eight stars. The photos were beautiful and the text amazingly readable. The book itself as more of a coffee table book and extremely unwieldy to read, but worth the effort.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆


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