Books: recently bought and on my wishlist – yes, mostly about plants and gardens – October 2019

I’m an inveterate buyer of books, most often about gardening. And whilst I do admit to having a large “to read” pile I always get round to using and enjoying each one. I thought you might like to know what I’ve recently read and what I’m looking forward to reading in future. I’ve provided links direct to their Amazon page should you wish to buy.

Books I plan to buy in the near future: my wishlist

Wild about Weeds by Jack Wallington
I first became aware of Jack when he and his partner Chris appeared on Monty Don’s programme “Big Dreams Small Spaces” in 2016. Jack writes about the experience here. We’ve now talked a lot on social media and one day I shall make it to one of his NGS Open Garden days. In the meantime I enjoy reading his blog, various articles in national and specialist media, and had the good fortune to be given two ricinus plants from someone who’d germinated them from seed given to her by Jack! I can’t wait to read his first book.

An Orchard Odyssey: Finding and Growing Tree Fruit in Your Garden, Community and Beyond by Naomi Slade 
We will be laying out and planting an area of our French garden for an orchard next winter (2020/2021) and this very well-reviewed book will come in very handy indeed. We want a productive and useful orchard, but we also want it to be a place of beauty.

Wilding: The return of nature to a British farm by Isabella Tree 
The story of the return to nature of the farm and estate at Knepp Castle in West Sussex. This is not far from our Sussex home and although I’ve known of the project for some time I don’t know much about it. So I want to read and understand more about the vision.

Sour: the magical element that transforms your cooking by Mark Diacono 
Mark is the author of seven award-winning books, the owner of Otter Farm, a regular (and generous) presence on social media, regular contributor to national newspapers and such publications as Country Life, and an all round top guy. I can’t wait to start using his latest book.

Beth Chatto: A life with plants by Catherine Horwood
Beth Chatto was one of the most inspiring and remarkable plantspeople of the 20th century, and this is the official biography. I remember seeing her stand at RHS Chelsea (gold medals for ten successive years from 1977) and have of course visited the iconic Essex gardens on several occasions not to mention bought plants from her nursery. I am looking forward to reading her story in more detail.

Scent Magic: Notes from a Gardener by Isabel Bannerman
Isabel Bannerman and her husband Julian have made and contributed to many renowned gardens including Arundel Castle and Woolbeding in Sussex, the walled garden at Houghton Hall (which we visited in the summer) and perhaps most famously the Prince of Wales’ country house, Highgrove. Their style is inimitably theatrical and recognisable. In this her second book Isabel writes about scented plants interwoven with an autobiographical diary of her gardening year.

Books bought at the Garden Museum Literary Festival in June 2019 at Houghton Hall, Norfolk

Luciano Giubbilei: The Art of Making Gardens
As Luciano Giubbilei finished his talk at the Festival my husband turned to me and whispered “The man’s an artist”. This weighty tome is still in its wrapper, waiting for the moment when I have enough time to sit for several hours to enjoy the first skim through. If the book is as inspiring as the man I shall be happy indeed!

Dream Gardens: 100 inspirational gardens by Tania Compton and Andrew Lawson
A huge variety of gardens from the UK, mainland Europe, USA and Australia. Truly inspiring. Tania is a Trustee of the Garden Museum.

Discovering the meaning of flowers by Shane Connolly
Subtitled “Love found, love lost, love restored”, this book introduces the lost art of floriography to a modern audience, setting out the historical meanings of more than 50 plants and flowers. Shane is well known for having designed the flowers for the 2011 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and has held a Royal Warrant since 2006. He gave a warm and gently humorous talk at the Festival.

The Generous Gardener: private paradises shared by Caroline Donald
Caroline Donald has been gardening editor of the Sunday Times since 2000. In this book she describes and illustrates more than forty private gardens belonging to people such as Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton, Jilly Cooper, Julian and Isabel Bannerman, Penelope Hobhouse, Bob Flowerdew, Roy Lancaster, Luciano Giubbilei, and Dan Pearson

A Little Book of Latin for Gardeners by Peter Parker
Evolved over a long period, botanical Latin is a useful tool for us all. One name = one plant. None of this common name nonsense where one common name can refer to half a dozen very different plants! Peter spoke most entertainingly on the topic at the Festival, and although I haven’t read the book yet I’m looking forward to doing so.

You should have been here last week by Tim Richardson
A selection of articles and columns written by Tim, with his usual sharp and sometimes irreverent humour, taken from such publications as Garden Design Journal, Gardens Illustrated, Country Life, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times. A great “have it on the go for dipping into” book, either by the bedside or in the handbag for train journeys or doctors’ waiting rooms! Amusing yet full of thoughtful interest.

Books bought over the last year or so

Kiftsgate Court Gardens: Three Generations of Women Gardeners by Vanessa Berridge
We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with the most wonderful treat: a weekend at Le Manoir Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire. The place lived up to its awesome reputation and although we will probably never return (a truly “once in a lifetime” experience) I would recommend it to anyone with something very special to celebrate. During the weekend we enjoyed Le Manoir’s gardens but also ventured further afield to Hidcote and thus discovered that Kiftsgate was very close by. We enjoyed Hidcote but were bowled over by Kiftsgate. This is their story.

Winter Gardens: reinventing a season by Cedric Pollet
If you want to be not only inspired to create an area – or even just a feature – in your garden which is at its peak of interest during the winter this is the book for you. I love being in the garden at every time of year so it has always been important to include plants with winter interest. In recent years new winter gardens have been create in such places as RHS Hyde Hall very recently, Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire, Wakehurst Place in Sussex, and many more.

and of course …

Japanese Gardens, a journey by Monty Don & Derry Moore
We love Monty Don. We love his writing (someone once said “he writes like an angel), and we love his television programmes. And of course I once sat next to him on a flight … but that’s another story … This is the book to accompany the recent TV series (which you can also buy on DVD here

Amazon links

I’ve provided links to Amazon for each of these books (and the DVD). I may receive a few pennies if you buy after you’ve clicked through, as I’m signed up as an affiliate, but it won’t affect the price you pay which will be the same as if you’d gone direct.

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