If there is one thing I’ve learned from my allotment life other than the trials and tribulations of growing veg, it is the intricacy of the broader surroundings in which I exist.
I am not an expert. However, one thing I am sure of is that you simply cannot garden as effectively or as enjoyably without an appreciation of the interconnectedness of your environment. In fact, it’s not just the act of gardening. It’s simply living.
While we are out there in the environment, patiently sowing and growing the vegetables and flowers, there is the opportunity to indulge in everything our surroundings offer and witness the changes throughout the seasons.
Time spent living and observing the elements in our little place on earth is clearly an experience that cannot be bought in advance. But you can be educated to gain a heads-up to the interesting bits and the essential activities to be enjoyed by having them explained to you by a knowledgeable source.
I bought Lia Leendertz’ The Almanac in 2018 and it immediately became a favourite. I was incredibly excited when I learned she had plans to release another one for 2019. It is a beautiful revival of a traditional almanac which enables us, the readers, to appreciate the natural cycles and seasonal activities throughout the year.
As you would expect from an award-winning writer, the book is delightful to read and Lia’s narrative is enhanced with wonderful illustrations by Celia Hart (who by chance was recently on the equally wonderful Garden, Weeds and Words Podcast).
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Gardeners will appreciate its bite-size chunks of essential monthly tasks and opportunities to scratch their itching green thumbs, but it is so much more than this. It is a companion rammed full of digestible activities for us to pack a rucksack and get outside and see, eat and reconnect with each of the seasons.
It is firmly based around the climate, stories, festivities and culture of the British Isles (any international readers might still enjoy this gem of a book to get an appreciation of our little islands) and for me it is an education that sadly we rarely get offered through the standard route of growing up and yet one that in many ways is much more valuable.
The 2019 edition is revised and updated with all-new features including meteor showers of the month, beehive behaviour, folklore and stories, seasonal songs, cheeses of the month and recipes.
I am so grateful to Lia and the team at Mitchell Beazley for providing me with a copy to review. As I did in 2018, opening the new Almanac’s pages at the start of each month will be an exciting moment and a tantalising forward look to all the pleasures to gaze at, munch on, sow and grow and perhaps even dance along with too.
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