The First-Time Gardener, by Sean & Allison McManus

Are you a first-time gardener hoping to grow your own beautiful garden? Look no further than this thoughtful, practical beginner gardening book from the bloggers behind Spoken Garden.

The First-Time Gardener: Growing Plants and Flowers, is an introductory gardening book focused on growing ornamental plants in the outdoor home landscape. The book aims to give “All the know-how you need to plant and tend outdoor areas using eco-friendly methods.” Written by Sean and Allison McManus, this publication is the perfect starting point for new homeowners or new gardeners looking for a solid foundation in sustainable gardening.

Read on to learn all about this new beginner gardening book.

The first time gardener - growing plants and flowers - mcmanus
This review copy of the first-time gardener: growing plants and flowers, by sean and allison mcmanus of spoken garden, was provided by quarto publishing

The First-Time Gardener: Growing Plants and Flowers

The First-Time Gardener: Growing Plants and Flowers (Cool Springs Press, April 27, 2021), is the perfect introductory gardening book for those just starting to learn about planting and tending to the landscape outdoors. This book is organized into eight distinct chapters, covering a broad foundation of gardening basics.

The first three chapters cover introductory topics, including definitions and basic concepts, layout ideas, the needs of plants, and the supplies/tools required. Chapter four focuses on planting, while chapter five discusses caring for your garden. The remainder of the book covers common problems, putting your knowledge together, and practical tips for getting outdoors and growing plants.

The authors take special care to instill a natural sense of confidence in new gardeners while also demystifying common concerns. Throughout the book, the authors return to themes of eco-friendly gardening, working with the unique characteristics of the landscape, and natural methods for creating a beautiful outdoor space.

“Everyone has to start somewhere, right? Well, we’ll let you in on a little gardening secret: All gardeners make mistakes. Even professional gardeners and landscapers make errors. There is no such thing as a perfect garden or a perfect flower. It just does not exist.”

The First-Time Gardener: Growing Plants and Flowers, by Sean and Allison McManus (Cool Springs Press, April 27, 2021).

What to expect from this gardening book?

This book gives broad insight into current home gardening best practices for those who are new to gardening or who are perhaps approaching their yard with renewed interest.

“This book is designed to teach you garden skills from the ground up (pun intended).”

The First-Time Gardener: Growing Plants and Flowers, by Sean and Allison McManus (Cool Springs Press, April 27, 2021).

In terms of garden planning and preparation, the book includes some basic horticultural knowledge as well as layout and scheduling reference tools. For instance, the book explains the parts of a plant, the differences between perennial and annual flowers, and the best places to use different types of plants likes trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers.

The book also goes into the basic needs of plants (light, water, et cetera), as well as the intricacies of planting for pollinators and container gardening. And before you start planting, you’ll get the chance to sketch out your garden and get the essential gardening tools you’ll need for your yard work.

The book goes on to describe the best way to plant new plants into your landscape, whether it be from seeds, seedlings, small potted plants, or dormant bulbs. Care and maintenance basics are also explained, including proper watering techniques, options for mulching garden beds, and natural pest control. There are helpful diagrams for learning to prune plants and in-depth wisdom on removing weeds from your outdoor space.

One particularly helpful reference section is Garden Care Through All Four Seasons. These general seasonal overviews will keep a new gardener on track with just a quick summary of the main goals and tasks. For those who love to have flowers blooming in their yard whenever possible, they include a nice chart showing which plants flower at which points throughout the season (page 151).

Who this book is for?

This book, The First-Time Gardener: Growing Plants and Flowers, is best for new gardeners working outdoors with the goal of creating a beautiful outdoor space. Tutorials include step-by-step photos and instructions and the authors take care to give different options which may suit different areas.

The book focuses on the “right plant, right place”, working with nature rather than against it. This includes choosing suitable plants for your climate as well as natural ways to control weeds, pests, and diseases. It also discusses how to choose appropriate organic fertilizers and how to create your own plant food by making homemade compost. This method results in a resource-conscious approach to creating a beautiful, all-natural landscape.

It is important to note that this book discusses mainly ornamental plants used to create a beautiful landscape in a residential setting.

This book does not focus specifically on growing vegetables or provide specified planting plans. This book is best for first-time gardeners looking to improve curb appeal in an eco-friendly, science-backed, DIY manner. For first-time vegetable gardeners, I recommend the companion title to this book, called The First-Time Gardener: Growing Vegetables, by Jessica Sowards.

More gardening insight from the authors

The authors, Sean McManus and Allison McManus, are well-known in the gardening community for their Spoken Garden media, in formats from audio to video and written tutorials. Here are some of their ongoing digital channels:

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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