Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
~ Helen Keller
Vegetables Love Flowers – Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty. I must admit that I like pretty books. I want to flip through the pages and feast with my eyes. If I like what I see then I am inclined to read. Bob Schamerhorn was the photographer for this book. His photographs are gorgeous. So gorgeous are the photos that I may have purchased the book without even reviewing the content. But, oh I am so happy that I read the book as well! It is actually full of useful information. If someone from the publisher is reading this review, please know that I would really love a hardcopy of the book! (hint, hint!)
One of the interesting things about the book is the overall design/flow. I didn’t realize it until I was looking at it later, but basically Ziegler hooks you at the beginning of the book with all the reasons to add flowers to your vegetable garden, and then at the end of the book she gives you detailed instructions on exactly how to add the flowers. If she bogged down the beginning of the book with such detail, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much. I applaud the approach.
As a novice vegetable gardener, I know the need for pollinators. I’ve posted about my attempts to add flowers to my garden for the sole purpose of attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. In retrospect, I see now that my flower attempts have been rather pathetic. I’m not wishing-away this summer, but I am excited for next year and how I will incorporate flowers into my garden in a big way! And maybe I still have time to do it for this fall. One very helpful tidbit that will make a big difference in my future plantings is the actual placement of flowers. This year, I placed one flower plant here and one flower plant there. I thought I needed to provide a path of sorts for the pollinators so that they would work their way throughout the entire garden. Zeigler’s approach is to plant all the flowers together, in mass. The sheer volume will attract the pollinators and they are smart enough to visit everything in the garden to see what treats are available.
What I like most is Zeigler’s specifics. Her instructions are incredibly precise. She doesn’t gloss over any aspect of the process – from preparing the soil, to spacing, to harvesting. She devotes entire chapters to flower choices for each season, detailing how to sow the seed, how much sun is needed, height, spacing, and what pollinators to expect. And, as I mentioned before, the accompanying photos are terrific.
She continues providing specifics in her chapter on the pollinators, expanding past the typical bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. She provides great (and specific) advice on how to provide for and protect habitats for pollinators. She devotes another chapter to ‘beneficial predators’ such as birds, frogs, and spiders.
Beyond that, Zeigler covers the topics of irrigation, row covers, weeds, compost, cover crops, perches, rock piles, and native plants. I’m telling you that she packs a ton of very useful information into 179 pages!
I am pretty sure that I will maintain vegetables as my primary focus. However, Zeigler’s book has convinced me of the need to adjust my approach to flowers (and gardening in general). I know I will find myself turning to her book time and time again as I continue to cultivate Patch405.
I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. All photos by Bob Schamerhorn and appear in the book Vegetables Love Flowers by Lisa Mason Ziegler.