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Book Review: Garden Your City

Garden Your City

Written by Barbara Hobens Feldt
Published by Taylor Trade Publishing, 2005

Reviewed by Maureen Sundberg

Barbara Hobens Feldt’s enthusiasm for urban gardening is evident in every page of Garden Your City. Feldt sees gardening possibilities everywhere – tiny fire escapes and curbside planters, rooftops and parks. And she offers practical advice to ensure that the urban gardener has a successful and productive gardening experience.

Garden Your City provides lots of basic gardening information including basic design ideas to get the new gardener up and in the soil. She touches on hardiness zones, microclimates, the relative advantages of annuals and perennials, growing plants from seed, plant maintenance, and much more. Her comprehensive guide gives the urban gardener a valuable resource that may not guarantee the biggest tomatoes or reddest roses on the block, but offers all the necessary information to avoid total disappointment. And all her advice is presented with an eye to the often limited space available to urban gardeners and to the need to look for materials in unconventional places. Feldt recounts her own experiences collecting elephant poo for garden use when the circus was in town and scouting construction sites for the perfect garden rock.

While offering a wealth of basic information to the new gardener, Feldt also exposes potential problems and pitfalls that even an experienced gardener would confront in the unfamiliar urban terrain. Chapters on shared community spaces, such as parks and community gardens, highlight her understanding of community dynamics and political realities. These chapters provide a wealth of creative opportunities alongside advice for avoiding legal, permitting, or simple communication problems, whether with permitting agencies or neighbors.

The final chapters of the book detail resources available to city gardeners and include pages for readers’ own notes and garden sketches. Threaded throughout the book, quotations from gardeners across the country remind readers of the many reasons we choose to work in the soil year after year pouring our hearts into the creation and tending of gardens.

A featured speaker at ELA’s 18th Conference and Eco-Markeplace, Feldt will be presenting: Knowing the “Enemy”: Practical Solutions for Deer and Other Pests. Details about her presentation appear on page 5 of the Conference Brochure. For additional information about the author and her work, visit her website: