The Grumpy Gardener

An A to Z Guide from the Country’s Most Irritable Green Thumb

Definitive gardening advice – along with a story or two – for the novice or expert from one of the nation’s most-trusted, and Grumpy, sources.

Gardeners from across the country have turned to Southern Living Senior Garden Editor Steven Bender – known affectionately as “The Grumpy Gardener” – for his keen knowledge and gardening know-how with equal doses sarcasm and sidesplitting humor for nearly 35 years. Finally, the collected wit and wisdom of the magazine’s most irreverent and beloved columnist can be found in a single A – Z volume, providing gardeners from coast-to-coast with his valuable tips for planting, troubleshooting, and growing flowers, vegetables, shurbs, trees and more, all delivered in his signature cantankerous style.

Sidebars throughout the book – “Ask Grumpy” – help readers tackle common garden problems (“How do I get ride of little house ants?”), and readers from the past 35 years take part in the book when Grumpy shares his favorite reader’s responses to some of his advice, his favorite rules for gardening, and Q & A’s covering your favorite plants and flowers are all inside. Additionally, beautiful line-drawings and illustrations throughout make the book as beautiful to look at as well as entertaining to read.

The Grumpy Gardener is sure to become the most trusted tool in your gardening shed!



Having bought my first house not that long ago I have been experimenting with trying to develop a green thumb because it’s always been a dream of mine to be surrounded by nature. Unfortunately it has not gone well. I’ve managed to help keep some fruit trees alive but everything else I’ve planted from shrubs to flowers to fruits/veggies have died. I immediately gravitated towards this hoping to learn some pearl of wisdom that would turn me from a nature murdered to a friend of the environment.

Written with humor and sarcasm that makes this an addictive read I found myself learning about plants that I never cared about before and have no plans of using just so I could enjoy his writing style. Peppered with cute yet snippy illustrations they add another layer of fun to learning about the gardening process dos and don’ts.

He provides reminders, 50 Rules scattered from A to Z, reader’s comments, questions and answers detailed on the side in bold or within the paragraphs themselves and tips that include websites to buy products or find further information. The meal tips for what you could do with unwanted pests such as serving them for dinner and what they would go great with were just an added bonus though I don’t think I’ll be trying them anytime soon. The cooking tips for plants like basil and tomato though are more up my alley. The presentation and writing style lends itself easily to either the novice (AKA garden killer like me) or the Master looking to up the ante on their skill set.

The information on what NOT to plant and why I found just as informative and helpful because I’ve already wasted TONS of money on plants and trees that have died or are currently dying so I’d rather not waste any more. We even get his viewpoint on non-alive things such as chainsaws which I wish I had read prior to our own use of them to take down some dead trees. Since I’m reviewing this in the Fall (or as we call it in Texas Summer-light)

I was happy to see a section on how to winterize which includes steps to help protect your plants, pots, sprinkler systems and gardens. Now I can use his advice to clean out and prep for a better chance at growing things in the Spring. There’s even information for those who want to garden desert style for low maintenance which I’ve personally never been a fan of even when I lived in Arizona. I get that with droughts and tons of sun it’s not feasible to have a green lawn with beautiful flowers which is probably why I didn’t last long out there and ran back to the land of green as fast as I coud.

Teachers and parents would be wise to pick this up because there are great projects in here that you can do with the younger generations to start fanning the flames of interest in improving the environment and or growing your own food.

I am very much looking forward to using this for my own desires to improve my skill set but also as a parent to do more things outdoors with my kids and away from the TV.

Thank you to Netgalley and Oxmoor House for allowing me to review this!

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