Thursday, April 7, 2011

"No Guff Gardening", no guff!

I felt exceptionally lucky when organizing our 2011 Niagara Seedy Saturday event.

I was looking for a really special speaker who could bring a little bit more to the event.

After being turned down by two very kind, but busy food-type authors,  I was led to Stephen Biggs.

I was a bit leery after having been turned down twice, albeit for very good reasons.  I can't tell you when Stephen returned my initial email with a positive response how relieved and delighted I was. 

And of course even more delighted when he came and spoke about growing figs and currants.  People were very enthused with his presentation and knowledge, and of course his kind donation of fig trees for door prizes.  

I was so pleased to receive an email from Stephen a few days ago saying his book "No Guff Gardening", a collaboration with  Donna Balzac, fellow garden educator is hot off the press. 

Although I haven't read the book yet, I have ordered it online, and am really excited to check it out.  Perhaps you would like to too.  The advance reviews are great, and I will leave you with this review from the Gabriola Sounder News (BC) as an introduction.

No Guff Gardening - the review

Susan Yates
Book Review

Monday, March 28 2011
Occasionally in a librarian’s life (retired or otherwise), a book will arrive that causes immediate bibliomania. A book that is so different, so appealing, and upon reading it, so completely perfect, that it must be shown with great excitement to everyone who loves books.

Last week I was in the Gabriola library and that is exactly what happened. Being an experienced biblionut I knew as soon as I saw No Guff Vegetable Gardening that I had to have it – for myself, for my children, my friends, for every book lover (and gardener) I could think of.

Mariko and Bryan McCrae of Feedlot Studios, whom I know as artists in our community, were showing a hot-off-the-press copy of No Guff Vegetable Gardening to the librarian when I saw it, and almost grabbed it out of their hands. Mariko’s extraordinary art is part of the book’s immediate appeal, and the amazing blending of text, art and photographs is one of Bryan’s special graphic design talents.

I asked Bryan and Mariko if I could take the book to Volume One in Duncan, a great independent bookstore where I purchase most of the new books I buy for family and friends. Off I went, along with my gardening guru older daughter, who dived into No Guff as soon as we got on the ferry. “Mum, this book is so funny, and it has really good advice, too!” was her first comment.

Needless to say, the book got immediate thumbs up from the knowledgeable staff at Volume One. Next stop was the Sounder to see if I could review the book so that readers who haven’t yet seen No Guff Vegetable Gardening will find it sooner rather than later. Here are the reasons you must look at this wonderful book:

1. The appearance (yes, the cover does matter!). The book is beautiful in every way – layout, design, cover, illustrations, photographs, print and binding. And I already mentioned the significance of two local artists being the reason for the book’s visual appeal. It will sit beside Katherine Gordon’s The Garden That You Are (the last book that gave me bibliomania) in my house, and emanate happiness.

2. The topic. Yes, there are lots of good gardening books, but this one is written by two very experienced gardeners who don’t always agree. And that makes for some very interesting and informative gardening advice. That takes us to number 3:

3. The authors. Donna Balzer is an expert horticulturist who writes for magazines and the Calgary Herald. Her television show Bugs & Blooms has been popular for a long time, and she has answered garden questions for CBC radio in Calgary for 20 years.

Steven Biggs is a horticultural science graduate who lives in Toronto, where he runs a gardening advice website and an e-zine, Homegrown in Toronto. He’s known as “Cousin Chlorophyll” to friends and family, and he loves to engage children in gardening while giving no-nonsense advice about growing food.

The Biggs and Balzer duo have gardened from Montreal to Qualicum Beach, and their combined experience reveals that there is more than one way to slice a tomato!

4. The wealth of gardening information. The book is crammed with practical advice, and it really is “no guff” – easy to understand and a lot of fun to read.

5. The humour. What could be more planet improving than gardens and zany humour together? This book has everything from scallions in kilts to bus-riding transplants. Helpful bunnies are everywhere – masked, bibbed, hula-hooping, spade-wielding.

It probably goes without saying that our local library will soon have copies of No Guff Vegetable Gardening, but if you want to see a copy right now go to’s there, along with all the other beautiful things that remind us how artists and writers create magic and joy.

Stephen is going to be sending along some books for me to sell on his behalf if you would like to check it out . It can be purchased also directly from the publisher via Stephen and Donna's website  
If you like the idea of a gardening book that shows more than one way to do things, this could be for you!



Kris Mo said...

Sounds great! I need more gardening books like a hole in the head, but I dare say that this one sounds worthy of adding to my collection. Thanks Linda!

Linda said...

Exactly Kris...I think it will be a great book, I'm looking forward to it. i think I need to disperse a bit of my farm and garden book collection, likes yours, it is large.
Thanks for reading!