The Reluctant Gardener: A Beginner's Guide to Gardening in Canada


287 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-394-22233-4
DDC 635.9




Illustrations by Al Wilson
Reviewed by Pleasance Crawford

Pleasance Crawford, a Canadian landscape and garden history researcher
and writer, is the editor of Landscape Architectural Review.


The authors, experienced writers and gardeners living in Ottawa, have
conceived this as a guide both for absolute beginners and for those who,
despite earlier attempts, are still merely “gardening out of a sense
of duty.” Their “reluctant gardener” is assumed to have limited
enthusiasm for garden chores; to be receptive to time- and money-saving
shortcuts; and to want only a lawn and a few flowers, shrubs, and trees.
This last assumption means that fruits, vegetables, and herbs are not
included, even though the reluctant gardener could certainly grow
low-maintenance edibles along with many of the plants that are

The reluctant gardener is also assumed to be at least somewhat
concerned about the health of the planet. One of the book’s strong
points is its emphasis on horticultural techniques that are as easy on
the environment as they are on the gardener. Another is its friendly,
light-hearted, and readable style. The book’s weak point is its
scarcity of illustrations; for further inspiration and instruction, the
reluctant gardener would certainly need to consult some of the
well-illustrated magazines and books listed as “selected reading


Shields, Dinah., “The Reluctant Gardener: A Beginner's Guide to Gardening in Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 22, 2024,