COVID-19 restrictions throughout 2020 have given many Victorians the opportunity to spend more time in their gardens, growing their own plants and vegetables.

Black and white glass plate negative, showing a young man standing in a vegetable garden, wearing a brimmed hat, holding a spade
Young man standing in a vegetable garden, wearing a brimmed hat, holding a spade. Glass lantern slide, [between 1860 and 1930]; H2012.90/111

Now that summer is underway it’s time to think about what to do next. If you’re a beginner or looking for inspiration State Library Victoria has many wonderful resources to help you get your hands dirty.

A simple search in the Library’s online catalogue using a basic term like ‘gardening’ finds over 3000 items. Many of these can be viewed from home by Victorian resident members. Sign up freely and easily online.

You can refine your search using the facets on the right-hand side of the results page. There are a number of headings grouping together similar items. For example, under ‘Subject’ many sub-headings show the number of items dealing with that topic, such as Landscape gardening, Organic gardening or Herbs.

If you are exploring the collection from home, you can opt to see what’s available immediately through your computer by selecting ‘Online items’.

Screenshot of the State Library Victoria catalogue, showing 4 collection items available online.

Depending on your knowledge about various aspects of gardening, it might be useful to look at books approaching this pastime from the ground up.

The Library holds books that discuss the basic principles to consider before deciding what to plant where and when. This might include examining your own garden, the quality and fertility of the soil, the amount of natural light and the time of day when your patch will get the most sunshine, as well as understanding seasons.

Gardening activities. Pen and ink drawing on cream paper by Fred Lowen, 1942; H94.95/1
This work is in copyright.

Ebooks for new gardeners include:

Gardening down-under : a guide to healthier soils and plants
by Kevin Handreck (2001).
Australian planting design
by Paul Thompson (2012).

You might be interested in an environmentally friendly approach to gardening. For example, setting up your own composting system both to recycle fruit and vegetable peelings, and to develop compost feed for your plants and to improve the soil.

Creating your eco-friendly garden by Mary Horsfall (2008).

The Library holds many individual journal titles in print format, as well as a large number of electronic magazines on homes and gardens accessible online through the Library’s subscription to PressReader.

You can also find a lot of visual inspiration from the Library’s resources to help you decide whether you want to grow vegetables or decorative plants, or a combination of both. The Library even holds a large collection of Edna Walling’s garden plans for your perusal online.

There’s a bounty of material to get you started, so have a dig through the collections today!

More to explore

This article has 2 comments

  1. Reflecting back on lockdown feels like another life time ago now, but one good thing was that it seems like the lockdown has turned a bunch of Victorians into garden lovers.

    Just wanted to say that I’m so grateful for the incredible gardening resources offered by the state library. Over 3000 resources for gardening is just awesome. I often refer clients here as they don’t realise they can access so many magazines etc, it’s a trove of information for them to compliment the gardening services I provide. Thanks, John.

  2. From an amateur gardener to a specialist gardener– thank you very much for your comments 🙂

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