Today's book review is a bit different from usual. Normally I review books I have bought myself, or sometimes books I've had for years. But I was sent Chris Beardshaw's How Does Your Garden Grow by the publisher for review. I didn't promise to give it a favourable review though, so from that point of view you can trust what I say.
It's very different from any other gardening book I've seen, because it reads more like a science textbook than a typical gardening book. You'll become familiar with terms such as adventitious growth, auxins and meristems, you'll know your dicots from your monocots and be able to talk about phloem and xylem with authority. Beardshaw explains how plants work, so you'll understand how to help them grow better.
All this science gets translated into practical things you can do to improve your garden. For example, how best to take cuttings (that tip alone will save me a fortune in hormone rooting powder), how and what to feed plants, and how to prepare soil to give plants the best possible growing environment.
It won't be everybody's cup of tea. There's inevitably a trade-off between ease-of-reading and depth-of-information, and Beardshaw seems to think there are plenty of pretty coffee-table gardening books already, but a shortage of information-packed science-heavy gardening books. I agree. If you are the kind of person who wants to know why things work, if you are hungry to understand rather than just know, then I think you will find this book not only enjoyable but immensely useful. If science does your head in, maybe you should pass on this one, but you might still enjoy the online flash game that goes with the book.