BOOK REVIEW

Natural History of a Garden / Spedding & Spedding The Natural History of a Garden
by Colin Spedding & Geoffrey Spedding
pub. Timber Press, 2003
Hardback, 256 pages, 17.99
ISBN 0 88192 578 0

This is a book that many naturalists and educationalists will have been longing for as it provides ideas and insights into the natural history of a typical garden and suggests ways to observe many of the unseen animals and processes that take place. So this is generally not a book for traditional gardeners who focus on garden layout or colour, or have a passion for collecting a particular species, but for those who want to look 'beyond' the mere gratifying appearance of their well-tended acres.

Split into eleven chapers the authors - a father and son team - consider every subject area that could conceivably interest the naturalist; from plants and animals in the garden, to what takes place in the soil, ecological matters, the seasons and water, and developing gardens to interest and capture the imagination of children.

There are, for example, line illustrations of the beaks of birds that might be seen around a typical garden and how the naturalist can tell what type of diet the bird might have based on beak shape. One table throws up a myriad of interesting statistics - snails, for example, have 15,000 teeth. Now you know !

Although there are a number of photographic images it is the freehand line drawings which will inspire educationalists to pick up and use this book for teaching natural history. The formation of galls, the life cycles of ladybirds, frogs and newts, plus numerous drawings of bugs and creepy-crawlies are just some of the many hand drawn illustrations which will inspire.

Bottom line...
Anyone with the slightest interest in educating the public and schoolchildren, or even their own children, about natural history should really visit this book. Natural history organisations or societies, and those creating wildlife habitats for public access should also be certain to draw inspiration from this excellent book.

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