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The Natural History of a Garden

The Natural History of a Garden
Colin Spedding and Geoffrey Spedding
Timber Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 245 p., $24.95

Animals and especially insects are pests to most gardeners. The Natural History of a Garden sets out to change this attitude, while increasing most gardeners’ observational skills beyond the occasional aphid feasting away.

Plants form the basis of natural life in the garden. All animals either feed on plants or feed on those that do. The gardener, by choosing certain plants, invites a certain fauna with her flora. Authors Colin and Geoffrey Spedding develop this simple thesis with school children on excursions in their garden, helping them understand the complexities of animal and plant interaction.

Their book provides exquisite detail on the lives of animals in a garden, the result of obviously intense observation. The text is combined with illustrations as varied as the animals, from bird beaks to the coiled tongues of butterflies to caddis fly larvae cases. Charts and lists fill the book, making comparisons of, for example, wasps, hornets and bees easy.

After reading The Natural History of a Garden, I am now filled with admiration for the teeming life in my garden. This unusual book should be a reference for inquisitive gardeners, ecologists and teachers.

— Adele Kleine, library volunteer and master gardener, Chicago Botanic Garden, and contributing writer toChicagoland Gardening magazine