The Bad Tempered Gardener, Anne Wareham, has returned with another salvo for the gardening world in her latest book, “Outwitting Squirrels”. The book is a tongue-in-cheek, dry-humoured, witty treatise on how to deal with the myriad pests which assail our gardens.
Traditional and modern solutions are discussed in view of her own experience; some are dismissed for the bunk that they are; others recommended for the success they have provided; the best way forward is planned and comfort and sympathy are dispensed to unfortunate gardener though with a certain air of “What a twat you were to imagine your garden would never have pests or problems – this is what nature is about and does and you are not immune either”.
Given the rather long list of problems dealt with I feel quite glad that the Irish Sea separates me from the U.K. as we are spared a considerable number of these pests here – no voles, for example. The list is, indeed, lengthy ranging from creatures such as squirrels, rabbits, cats, deer, slugs, aphids, vine weevil and ants to infestations such as box blight, clematis wilt and honey fungus but I feel The Bad Tempered Gardener finds the human pest the greatest pest of all with particular scorn poured on gardening “experts”, a description applied liberally nowadays to anybody who has managed to bring themselves to public attention in much the same way as we have so many celebrities about.
The Bad Tempered Gardener is not without her barbs and her wit is sharp but I feel she wears her barbs for her own amusement as much as for public entertainment and that really she is an experienced and gentle-natured gardener with plenty of common sense at the back of it all.
Though writing specifically on advice on dealing with honey fungus her comments reflect her general attitude throughout the book: “What it (advice) does succeed in doing for me is making me feel guilty and obscurely responsible. If I really tried hard I could have stopped this, goes the thought. It’s bad enough to have honey fungus without feeling guilty about it too. It seems to me that this is the result of much well-meant advice, and it’s worth bearing in mind. People don’t like to appear inadequate, so they don’t like to say, ‘you can’t do anything useful about this problem’. In the garden world especially, remorseless positivity is mandatory, so ‘solutions’ get offered that are possibly no solution at all in reality.”
No, this book will not provide the solution for all and every problem which you may encounter in your garden but, after reading it, – and you will enjoy doing so – you will realise that some problems are inevitable, simply part of the ways of nature, that they rarely are catastrophic and that containing them and enjoying our gardening may be as much as is sensible for us to expect to do in life. The book is light-hearted and fun to read; it contains an amount of solid information and advice but, most importantly of all, shows an attitude to gardening garnered from experience, common sense and a sense of humour.
I should add that the book is simply shooting up on Amazon’s popularity lists!
[Outwitting Squirrels – 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Effects of Garden Pests and Honest Advice Concerning your Chances of Success, Anne Wareham, Michael O’Mara Books, 2015, Softback, 223pp, £7.99, ISBN: 978-1-78243-370-5]