Outwitting Squirrels

Best seller! It was 6th in sales of new gardening books in the UK in 2015, then either no 1 or 2 for two years in Amazon ‘Garden Pests and Diseases’. Now there’s fame!

REVIEWS of OUTWITTING SQUIRRELS (which you can buy here)

RHS: The Garden, review by Nigel Colburn – “considerable value and refreshingly acid humour”

Review in RHS The Garden by Nigel Colborn SAM_1742 s

Gardens Illustrated, review by Caroline Beck: “a book that should be on everyone’s bookshelves”

Gardens Ill.

From Amazon (because it made me laugh)

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

When did I last read a gardening book that made me laugh? I think it was the summer of 1975 and the book was Thelwell’s “Up The Garden Path”. Not only is this book funny but it feels honest and humble and is very definitely handy. However, it should carry a health warning: I often read on the loo and was unable to get up until I had finished this gem – I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

The Blackberry Garden:

“If you have read any of Anne’s other work then you will know she has a practical and no-nonsense approach to gardening.  Outwitting Squirrels fits right into this mold being informative and also that pleasant amount of being amusing without appearing to try too hard…..

Many nuisances are covered in this book, from squirrels, rabbits, cats, slugs and snails to insects, snakes, algae and bracken.  The final section is called ‘Outwitting humans’ and looks at  topics such as legislation, edges, experts, rain, people and wind.

I enjoyed reading this book immensely, more than I expected to as I can find advice books patronising and comic gardening books quite tedious.” (for more see The Blackberry Garden)

by Alison Levey

Chepstow bookshop window. 20150505_211455

Weeding the Web

“It’s just the thing to cheer you up if you find yourself defeated by some dastardly garden affliction, but it’s not just light-hearted. It’s a thoroughly practical and pragmatic book that will give you ideas and help you re-evaluate your approach, leavened with a dry humour that makes it a pleasure to read. We need more humour in gardening!” (for more see Weeding the Web)

by Helen Gazeley

The Patient Gardener’s Weblog

“I think the benefit of this book is it makes you laugh at the problems which can drive some gardeners insane.  It puts things into perspective and almost gives you permission to trust your own instincts and not to care quite so much.  After all gardening is meant to be relaxing and enjoyable not a daily challenge. It is a good read, not too heavy in content, light-hearted but with a serious message.” (for more see The Patient Gardener’s Weblog )

by Helen Johnstone

Outwitting Squirrels cover.


A Review By Katherine Crouch

Concerning your Expectations of an Erudite and Entertaining Read

Anne’s latest book promises well from the first glance of the cover, illustrated by a squirrel in fiendish Moriarty disguise of twirling moustache and bounder’s top hat. The wording above also tells you what to expect – and the correct use of English is always a good start.

It is ideal for a bedtime read, being a slim volume and not heavy on the knees, and illustrated with cartoons by Kate Charlesworth. It is a book for dipping into a chunk at a time, each kind of pest having it’s own chapter, neatly concluded by What to Do and What Not to Do advice.

I have many books about gardening, and chapters and illustrations of magnified pests and tattered foliage usually make very dull and depressing reading. I never expected to laugh out loud, but Anne’s voice speaks throughout the book, and she has not been coy about her experiences.

She has voiced my years of misgivings on page 105 with regard to the control of vine weevils.

What not to Do

                        Ignore any notches on your leaves

Keep everywhere clean of any plant debris and any messiness where the adults might hide (this is the horticultural equivalent of cleaning behind the fridge and never happens in the real world, but is, amazingly, frequently recommended)

Information, truth and brevity in two sentences with carefully considered punctuation – commas, but no messy full stops. I could find only one tiny typo, spot it if you can. This makes for an effortless read.

The laugh-out-loud bit was Anne’s heartfelt description of trying to control whitefly in her conservatory with the predators Encarsia formosa. I chuckled at her description of the business of ordering fiddly packets and deploying them at the right temperature, but completely cracked up at “they never seemed to make a big impact in our house, mostly because my mother-in-law came to stay, found whitefly in the conservatory and helpfully sprayed them with insecticide”.

Under ‘Whitefly’ What not to Do was

‘”Ask your mother-in-law to stay (sorry Jessica)”

Anne is pragmatic about the use of chemicals, organic controls, barriers and the results that can be realistically expected from here own experience. Sorry Anne, it was cruel of me to laugh at “never step in the same wasps’ nest twice” but I just couldn’t help it.

There are a few omissions. No rats? Not strictly a problem to plants, but capable of eating the toes out of very expensive and posh wellies left in the garage. . . I think we could all put together a Book 2 of our own anecdotes?

No mention of Grazers by name, stating merely “Deterrent sprays may work, but require constant reapplication”. I don’t mind doing this as it is a very effective control of rabbits and deer, as long as it is applied slightly more frequently than the instructions state. It has saved my clients hundreds of plants and my wholesaler thousands of pounds. (Nice recommendation for someone with four acres to protect, Katherine..Ed.)

With this advice, I place myself firmly in the chapter on Experts. As Anne states, “when people start holding forth, you need to ask what experience they are speaking from, which often turns out to be only their own, in their own garden.”

Thus reprimanded, I shall now slink off to do battle in someone else’s garden, but add to my expanding ‘To Do’ list, “order several copies of O.S. from Amazon for birthday and Christmas presents.” I think it will suit every kind of gardener, enthusiastic or idle, beginner or experienced, and fit perfectly into a Christmas stocking.

 Katherine Crouch

Katherine’s website

And here is the story of the Book Launch (on the river Wye)

Books 20150420_121544



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