Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Earth Day Reading Project

This past week I was invited (twice!) to participate in a meme called the Earth Day Reading Project.  This meme was created by The Sage Butterfly in honor of Earth Day (Friday, April 22).  We are asked to share books that have inspired us to live sustainably or participate in a green act. 

Many things have inspired me to try and garden in a more natural way but of the books I have read these are the ones that stand out.

The Rodale Book of Composting: Easy Methods for Every Gardener
Some years ago we rented a house that came with a compost bin.  Although I fully supported the idea of compost I had no experience in creating or using it.  That black plastic bin was a bit intimidating when I first saw it and I needed to learn what to do with it.  I purchased this book and brought it home only to read it all in one sitting.  This book was an exceptional introduction to composting as it discusses so many different aspects of compost.  It begins by talking about what compost is and how it is produced naturally in forests.  Then it moves on to composting throughout history and discusses the different methods that have been used in agriculture at different times.  From there it talks about composting today.  How to build a compost bin, the materials you can use to create compost, the differences between hot and cold compost, and how to use the finished product.  Since reading this book composting has become one of my most basic tools in gardening.  By understanding this very fundamental process I gained knowledge of the natural world as a whole and the life cycle of plants and insects came together in my mind.

Northwest Coastal Wildflowers (Northwest Wildflower)
There was a provincial park that we visited regularly when we lived in British Columbia and one visit I wandered through the general store and came across this field guide.  It's relatively small as pocket guides are.  Each page contains several pictures of flowers and some basic identification information.  I never paid a lot of attention to wildflowers before but this book contained pretty pictures of flowers and I became interested in trying to see if I could find them on my walks.  Then I realized that some of the flowers in my book were actually in my yard and I began identifying plants within the confines of my garden area.  Suddenly a whole new world opened up.  Plants that I had virtually ignored previously had a name and a purpose.  Once I realized how many weeds were wildflowers the world around me was a whole lot more interesting and native plants became just as beautiful as garden ornamentals.

The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed
I have already written a detailed review of this book here but it deserves another mention as it so thoroughly affected my perception of forests.  It made me consider their place in history.  Large trees that you see today may have been standing when European settlers first touched the shores of North America.  It also made me consider their value.  From economic value through tourism and logging to ecological values of air quality and wildlife habitat.  After reading this book I could no longer see a tree as just a tree.  I was thinking about it's growth, the conditions required to cultivate it, the animals it fed and sheltered, the spiritual significance and beauty it presents to humans and the monetary value it presents to our communities. 

The Rodale Book of Composting: Easy Methods for Every Gardener      Northwest Coastal Wildflowers (Northwest Wildflower)     The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed

I would like to thank Karin at Southern Meadows and Debbie at A Garden of Possibilities who both asked me to participate in this meme.  Bloggers like Karin and Debbie have inspired me and continue to inspire me to consider how my garden affects the world around me. 

I would like to invite the following bloggers to join in this meme and tell us about books that have inspired them this Earth Day.

• Blush and Bees

• My Weeds Are Very Sorry

• Casa Mariposa


  1. Wonderful picks! I haven't read any of these but you have describe them so well that I want to get them immediately! The one on composting sounds like a great reference book even for the experienced composter. The Golden Spruce sounds like a fascinating read. I am just starting to learn more about trees. Thanks for your kind words. You are an inspiration too!

  2. I am definitely going to check out the Golden Spruce, it sounds like an inspirational read. And thanks for passing on the invitation. My post will be up shortly!

  3. Thanks!! The Golden Spruce sounds like an awesome read. I will definitely put together a list and post it by this weekend. Thanks for thinking of me!

  4. Oh, I agree - every gardener should compost. And it seems a bit overwhelming until you just try it. Good selection. The Golden Spruce sounds like a very interesting read. Definitely going on my list!

  5. A Master Gardener friend mentioned 'The Golden Spruce' to me about a year ago. I confess I haven't read it yet, but I promise I will. Thanks for the reminder.
    I have a new Wildflower book for my area and am going through it, loving every minute of it.

  6. Thank you Karin. The compost book is a good read for just about anybody. I found it particularly helpful at that time but it makes a great reference book to have around.

    Laurrie - So glad you can participate. Sometimes a book just rings in your ears for various reasons and The Golden Spruce was one of those for me. A fellow woodworking student of my husbands recommended it. Many of the woodworkers at a school he was attending found the book interesting from their perspective of wood as a material to be used. This book really offers so much for everybody to think about.

    TS - Glad to hear you'll be able to participate. I think I caught you at the right time with spring break! Can't wait to see what books you'll list.

    Holley - compost is such a fundamental part of gardening I can't imagine not doing it anymore. But I reemember what it was like when I didn't understand it. Seems a lot more complicated than it is.

    Janet - The Golden Spruce is such a funny book. It reads like a novel but it's a true story. You wouldn't think it would have much to do with gardening but the way it's written provides so much history and detail about forests. Definitely worth the read.

  7. After reading your description of The Golden Spruce, I am inspired to read it. All of your selections are inspiring. Thank you for participating in The Earth Day Reading Project and Happy Earth Day!

  8. The Golden Spruce book sounds wonderful..I have always felt that forests were so special...loved exploring them and thinking about who went before me in these woods...will definitely read this one...Happy Earth Day.

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  10. Hi Marguerite. Thanks for your thoughtful synopses on these books, I need to get my hands on that pocket guide! Also, thank you for inviting me to meme (can I say that?) I know which books I will write about!!

  11. Your third book struck me as so important. People seem to cut down trees without a thought, even if the trees are much older than they are. I still see the holes and mourn the mature trees that have been cut down in our neighborhood alone.

  12. As a self-proclaimed tree hugger I will definitely be looking for The Golden Spruce. A great recommendation - thanks! Happy Earth Day ;)

  13. Marguerite, What a great selection of books you've highlighted. Like many other readers, I'm not familiar with The Golden Spruce but I will definitely put it on my reading list after seeing your synopsis. I finally posted my list of books - better late than never I guess. Happy Earth Day!

  14. You've inspired me to add The Golden Spruce to my to-read list ... thanks.

  15. You are the second person to recommend the Golden Spruce...will be adding it for sure...great reads...Happy Earth Day

  16. Sage Butterfly - Thank you for inspiring us all to to participate in Earth Day. It's easy to forget this event and you did a wonderful job getting everyone involved.

    Donna - happy Earth day to you too! I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Forests really are special places. (the second! oh good, it's not just me who fell in love with this book, LOL)

    Jenn - so glad to hear you can participate, I look forward to see what you've been reading!

    Carolyn - this book was so captivating to me because it presented so many sides to the story of a forest. Although I hate to see big trees cut down I also got a sense of the people who do this for a living.

    Cat - Happy Earth Day to you too! I hope you enjoy this read. Have a great Easter.

    Debbie - I can't wait to see what books you've recommended. Thanks so much for inviting me to participate in this post.

    Joene - Glad to see you found a book that might inspire you too. Enjoy!

  17. Marguerite, These books are all new to me. The Golden Spruce sounds like a great read, and maybe Rodale's compost book can help me to be more successful in making compost. I do love this Earth Day project; I am learning so much from everyone's book recommendations. I can see that the mountains of books beside my bed and my favorite reading chair are about to grow taller still! -Jean

  18. Dear Marguerite, You picked some very inspiring titles -- all new to me. I put them on my 'must read' list. Thanks for visiting my blog. P x

  19. Marguerite- The Golden Spruce sounds like an interesting read. I'm putting it on my hold list at the library. Happy Earth Day.

  20. Jean - like you I'm loving these book recommendations. The only downside is that I haven't got time to sit and read them all!

    Pam - and thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you enjoy the books.

    Happy Earth Day to you too Melanie! Hope you're having a wonderful weekend.

  21. You remind me of walking along the Twelve Apostles and Table Mountain, when I first began to look at plants and wildflowers. What is that? Then the collection of wildflower books began, and grew.