Fun to look back at old gardening books

Make a cup of tea, gardeners, and let’s sit and chat for a few minutes. Last time we visited, I was telling you about a kind friend who shared a box of gardening books with us, among them an old issue of the Prairie Garden from 1965. I love those old gardening books! Not only are they still full of practical wisdom for gardeners, but they are also so very interesting, a reflection of the time. I love reading the ads as much as the articles! One ad was for plant food, available in 25 and 50 cent bottles. Another was for polythene film for mulching, a great price of $1.79 for a 36” by 50 foot roll!

If you see old gardening books at a book sale or garage sale, don’t dismiss them because they are a few years old. Basic garden information is always valuable, and it’s good to have a few garden reference books in your own collection.

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Planning a garden is a popular topic in gardening books of all kinds, and there is actually much to think about. Do we want a garden for food, for play areas, for relaxation? Once we have decided that, we also have to realistically consider the amount of time and effort we are willing and able to put into our plan. Don’t we always have high hopes and big dreams when the season begins, but we must think about the time, effort and energy available to us. To each his own, and that is what makes every garden unique. A multi-faceted yard, with garden and flowerbeds, does take work, although for many of us it is a joy and a labor of love.

That’s one thing I have noticed in reading those older gardening books, compared to now: there are many more gardening options available for all of us now. Reading the older books, it is clear that most gardens then were quite large and largely functional. It is a reflection of the time: yards were bigger, and most people grew what they ate. The working garden was a very prominent part of their lives.

Now come ahead to the current day. Gardening has changed for many people. City lots are smaller, and the mega-garden of the past is gone for many of us. But — now we have new gardening ideas. Some people choose not to have gardens, but a serene and relaxing outdoor oasis, made of perhaps shrubs, trees and lawn. Some opt for a garden, but it is much smaller: even a ten by ten foot garden can yield great eating. That may be all that space and time permit. Raised beds, some wheelchair height, make gardening accessible to everyone. We are able to enjoy the fruits (and veggies!) of the land at farmers markets, while also supporting the idea of locally grown produce. All new ways to experience gardening!

And one of the things that I think is very exciting, we can now grow so many things in containers! Container gardening was not a concept fifty years ago. But gardening practises have changed, and seed growers began developing plants that were suited to smaller spaces and containers. Back then, who could even imagine that there would be bush cucumbers meant specifically for containers? Or tomato plants developed for growing on a patio in a large pot? How wonderful it all is, because now everyone, on any scale, can garden and enjoy the gifts to body, mind and soul that gardening can provide. The best goal is just to get gardening!

The Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be holding their next regular meeting on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:00 p.m. at SIGN on North Street in Yorkton. The topic will be “Fairy Gardens”. Come and find out more about it! Remember, you don’t have to be a member of the group to come to the meetings. Everyone is welcome!

Visit us at and have a great week!

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