I’ve added a Recommended Reading page to my blog where you will (in time) find my list of favourite garden reads; my post today is about one of them.
Beth Chatto is one of my gardening heros and I have visited her garden near Colchester several times; she has had the benefit/challenge of creating a garden on very dry poor soil together with an area of very damp soil and a woodland – so she can speak to any gardener. Her plant nursery, Unusual Plants, is a brilliant source of hard to find ‘must-have plants’, and the colour illustrated catalogue is a gem in its own right (but I have to confess one of my most treasured gardening books is a non-illustrated catalogue from 1999, where Beth’s words more than replace photographs). This book is one of several written by Beth and takes the form of a garden diary; one of my favourite writing styles when it comes to gardening books and the inspiration for my own gardening journals.
Starting in January, where Beth walks her reader around the garden to highlight those plants that are at their best at this often bleak time of year, in the opening chapter she also describes life in the nursery during the ‘down time’ outside of the main growing season. As the year progresses she describes the excitement and anticipation of building a garden for Chelsea Flower Show (she holds 10 gold medals) and the challenges of maintaining her garden alongside the plant nursery, both of which are open to the public.
If you love English gardens, this book is a ‘must read’ – with the added benefit of some exquisite illustrations, and recipes too along the way.