The Plant Listener

Like most living things, plants are born, grow up, produce offspring, then die. They eat, breathe, drink, go to work, have sex. They make friends and enemies, communicate with one another and with other species. They are landlords, babysitters and story-tellers. Above all, they are survivors. As soon as we choose to grow them, they spend their whole lives helping us do just that.

Horticulture lecturer, Julie Kilpatrick, takes you on a journey through the life of a plant, explaining the processes upon which all plants rely for their survival and how we can use that knowledge to influence our horticultural practices. Along the way, she'll introduce you to some of her favourite plants. Her advice is unashamedly holistic and firmly in favour of the plants.

You don't need to know the name of a plant to know how to care for it. You can successfully care for any plant by understanding its signals.

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"Julie is a lecturer and an award winning garden designer and it is clear that Julie is writing from a position of knowledge.  The book is text only, there are no pictures and yet it does not feel dense; it is an easy and compelling read.  You pick it up and start to read a chapter and you are led on to the next section and the next.  I learned a lot. I learned about RAM and how vital they are for the plant's underground network and absorption of water.  It was information I already knew in practice that I have to ensure that plants get the best start in life, but this book provides the 'why'.  By understanding better why these things matter then it becomes easier to make sure you are providing your plants with the best start of life when planting them into the garden.

The chapter headings give a sense of Julie's in depth but lighthearted approach to her subject: Plants on the pull; Choosing the right matchmaker, Abandoned at birth, Dolly the Sheep aint so great, to name but a few.

I admit to disappointment that Julie declares that she no longer talks to her plants, I had a chat with my aspidistras about this and they felt rather sad about this.

I enjoyed reading Julie's book.  It is a good book to dip in and out of.  I found Julie's writing style very accessible and informative, which is always a good mix.  I hope that it is the first book in a series as I would genuinely love to read what comes next."

Alison Levey, The Blackberry Garden

Profile Photo Julie C. Kilpatrick

About Julie C. Kilpatrick

Julie is a lecturer in horticulture and garden design and has been editing and writing for online gardening magazine since it was first published in 2006. She blogs at

Her gardening career began with a garden maintenance company before progressing to offering garden design and build services. She spent two years working with local authorities in Scotland as a home compost advisor, helping to encourage members of the public to compost at home in order to help reduce waste.

She currently lectures full time in the horticultural section of a Glasgow college, teaching a wide range of horticultural subjects. When she is not marking or preparing her classes, she is working on her second book, The Plant City, which covers soils and nutrition.

She lives on the west coast of Scotland where she gardens mainly in containers which she has to remove every winter when the tide comes into the garden!

She loves reading about, and meeting, interesting plants and is especially interested in plant intelligence.

All books by Julie C. Kilpatrick

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