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I am in the middle. I need lots of photos in the how to and a list of materials.

I think I am close to the middle but might skew a bit toward how to... I find how to books to be sort of like eye candy year after year during the winter... Essays I tend to maybe enjoy more, but reread less frequently...

Essay, absolutely! Love the backstory!

Well, as usual, I want it all. Life would be deadly dull without the Lloyds and Chattos, butI can be SO seduced by a knowledgeable, hands on person who can still teach me. after a lifetime spent in the garden, I know that I will never stop learning from my peers, from good writers and from wonderful garden friends who have shared both plants and knowledge.

I tend toward essays when it comes to books - the kind of books that sustain me through winter. As for the how-to's, I tend toward trial-and-error... and the internet. Though I do love my how-to's when I'm out in the plot. Thanks for the giveaway!

After thirty years of self-employed "how to" gardening, give me a well written essay any day. I'll give my tired back and arthritic fingers a rest flipping the pages.

That's a difficult question. I certainly enjoyed the essays in Henry Mitchell's columns (and later books), but in general I think I like how-to better, as I can relate to it in my own garden.

I enjoy the well written words of an essay the most. It is becoming a lost art we must support or it will vanish, into a string of abbreviations that I seem to read all over the web.

The more I garden, the more I realize that gardening is a game based in a particular plot of soil in a particular climate and microclimate.

I read both types of gardening books. The how-to books give me an idea of what other people tried and how it worked. I skim them for inspiration. This week I saw some corner shelves offered on freecycle, and I happened to be reading a DIY blog that described how to turn Ikea corner shelves into a cold frame. I need to start my seeds and had been wondering where and how. Now I have a project!

The essays give me a narrative and a more complete picture of what happened in someone else's garden and what they thought about it. But I also love books about pollinators, beneficials, and microfauna, which tend to be more essay than how-to. It enriches my experience of my own garden and makes me a better observer when I know what to look for and whom to appreciate.

“Feeling at peace, however fragilely, made it easy to slip into the visionary end of the dark-sight. The rose shadows said that they loved the sun, but that they also loved the dark, where their roots grew through the lightless mystery of the earth. The roses said: You do not have to choose. ”
― Robin McKinley, Sunshine

I like to eat and try new dishes, so there are cookbooks. I like to garden, and read what others have done, or as Robin has written above,
How to with why, who else has and how to make the most of the garden.

Then there are the books of dreaming and thought, the essays, the histories, the explorations of what might be. Rosalind Creasey hits both for me, as well as Frank Browning on Apples. Oh, dear--and well-written catalogs, such as Greenmantle Nursery and that of Sandy Mush Herb Gardens.

Choose? Shan't I have a stab at some of each?

Definitely on the essay side. I like to design and appreciate. My basic gardening technique is: remove grass and weeds from the dirt; rough it up a bit; plant about 1/3rd more plants and seeds than you need; pour on water and a bit of compost/mulch occasionally; hope most survive. Usually works OK, but if not, then I go find a how-to book.

I discovered garden writing right out of college, a new mom with a BA in English, burned out on the study of American fiction, looking for something new and exciting. I picked up a few books: Michael Pollan's (then new) Second Nature, Allen Lacy's books, and the anthology of American Garden Writing by Bonnie Marranca, to name a few. These ignited the flame to seek out "how-to" and soon, even though I didn't even have space for a garden, I sought out master gardener training. No contest for me--the heat and passion is in the ART--everything else feeds on that.

I'm definitely on the essay side of the spectrum. I love to read about the stories behind the plants, behind the gardens. The how-to is great to have for reference, but the gardening books I take to bed with me are the essay collections. My favorites are the ones that sneak a little science into the stories.

Essays are by far my favorite! I love to read about the passions that motivate the action. With essays there is no need to worry about which zone you are in or what kind of soil you have. The author's passion then inspires my own.

I'm schizophrenic in my writing--and my reading. One day, I'm writing a personal essay about becoming an accidental vegetarian after the death of one of our backyard chickens. The next day, I'm writing a how-to for growing a Three Sisters Garden. It's a messy writing life.

My books are equally dweller turned farmer memoirs, garden design and winter extension manuals, Farmer Markets guidelines, history of Biltmore's gardens and heirloom tomatoes. Wishy washy, for certain--but entertaining always!

It's seasonal: How-to starts about now; essays when the snows start. Remember that the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues started training this week, so there's hope!

I never ceases to amaze me how there can be yet another how-to-book on any garden subject. It's like cultivators... yet there is another heuchera and another hosta. i prefer the essay book, because
1. it's about writing and that interests me. the ability to write a good sentence is an artform.
2. the diversity of topics and points of view.
3. the essay is as much as about the author as the topic of the book itself. To me it's a kind of autobiography of the author.

It never ceases to amaze me how there can be yet another how-t gardening book. It's like cultivators ... how can there be another heuchera.
I much prefer the essay.
1. Because it's about writing. And writing a good sentence is a hard thing to do.
2. Because it's autobiographical. It's a window into the author as much as the subject matter.

I love reading essays of all types - the ones that share a garden's history, the love of gardening, the frustration, the victories and defeats.

However, just when I think I've hit the peak number of How To books (I own a lot!), another one is published that I just have to have.

I'd say both are an addition.

I love essays especially at this time of year. Once I get gardening I will be dragging out my how-to books which explains why my favorite gardening books are all muddy with seed envelopes as book marks.

This is a non-question for anyone who enjoys reading as much as gardening. Some of the how-to books are beautiful and I enjoy reading them even if they are talking about a plant that I could never grow, such as Meconopsis betonicifolia, blue himalayan poppy. On the other hand, there are times when my garden practices change after reading an essay, like one by Roger Swain talking about how poisoning our underground munchers (gophers, moles, groundhogs) disturbs our garden ecology. I have come to think of poisoning gophers as equivalent to using pesticides on my plants.

I'm definitely prefer essays, especially writers like Allan Lacy. I do have and read how-to books, but they're not what I would settle down with at the end of the day.

I am a how-to fan. For me gardening is about exercise and feeding my family; I go someplace else for philosophy and musings.

Thanks for the opportunity to win.

Since i've been gardening for about 25 years, I'm definitely in the essay land these days. If I win the boks, I will send the how-to book to a gardening pal in England who recently gave up his allotment due to lack of time/engery. He'll be gardening on a smaller scale at his home and would be delighted to get the book!

I'm a certified UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener who's grown her own food on a patio and in a community garden, but isn't a great planner in terms of getting seeds started and in the ground or in pots. I'm also a newly minted Master Food Preserver and cofounder of SLOLA Seed Library of Los Angeles ( I find myself carried away with the poetry of pastoral books on farming and sustainability: The Botany of Desire; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; The Heirloom Life; Epitaph for a Peach; but I lust over the images in Botany for Gardeners, which look like contemporary art masterpieces. In my gardening practices, I've been spiritually moved by looking at a bean sliced across its horizon under a microscope and watching the cotyledon pop its head up. Magical. And on the how-to books, I like John Jeavons, not exactly a beginning book, and basic tomes such as Square Foot Gardening.

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