Everyday Eden is enchanting. This latest offering from gardening, foodie and style guru Christina Symons (think Martha Stewart with a smile that reaches her eyes in a slim brunette persona) is a gem.
Long-time contributors to Coast Reporter and Coast Life magazine, Symons and her partner John Gillespie are geniuses at repurposing and making everything but a silk purse out of a pig's ear. Although given the challenge, they could probably accomplish that too.
This gorgeous book is designed to last for many years; printed on heavy stock paper it would be an elegant addition to any coffee table. But lest you think it's all beauty and no brawn, let me assure you that's not the case.
The book is divided into five categories. Under the heading of Elements, the duo introduce both novice and experienced gardeners to some of the tried-and-true ways to ensure a successful harvest.
One of the things I like best about this book is the way Symons uses her crafty knowledge and imagination to draw kids into the wonderful world of the wide outdoors. Her clever mind shows how youngsters can grow a huge amount of potatoes in a medium to large bucket. Showcased under the title Potato Heads, there are several pictures to demonstrate exactly what needs to be done for your little one to harvest a bumper crop. And Symons doesn't stop at the gardening -she encourages the budding artist to paint a Mr. Potato Head on the bucket. What a great way to introduce kids to the art of growing their own food.
One of Symons' creative talents is making useful gifts from the garden. Her gorgeous lavender wreath is one of the prettiest things I've ever seen. I can just imagine how wonderful it would make your home smell. There's a whole chapter dedicated to the lovely mauve herb - from growing the bee-loving plant to using the finished product. You could have inexpensive, thoughtful gifts for years for a small investment in lavender plants.
Symons, like any self-respecting Roberts Creeker, is a gumboot aficionado. And in another cheeky chapter, Good Gumboots, she shows how to morph the weathered accessories into charming planters. Another great project for bored children: they'll have tons of fun and you won't hear the "B" word for hours.
There are several pages devoted to ways to make meals sexier. Recipes range from flavoured butters to flowerpot beer bread. If you've ever needed a hostess gift in a hurry, you'll find this book worth its weight in gold. Anyone who has ever grown tomatoes on the Coast knows the challenge involved with getting them to ripen. Symons has so many uses for green tomatoes, you'll never worry about their colour again.
There is one area where the authors and I disagree - they liken the taste of lemon balm to Pine-Sol, while I find it a dead ringer for Lemon Pledge. Thanks to my husband being the only person in the world that ever bought lemon balm bedding plants, we have sufficient quantities of the plant to outlast a nuclear holocaust.
This marvelous book will be in bookstores in early May - mark it as a must-have. I plan to buy copies for everyone on my gift list for the next year. It really is that good.