To gardeners the last week of May means one thing: Chelsea. The word may also be used to describe a smart area of West London, a football team or a former US President’s daughter but, for anyone with green fingers, it instantly conjures up an image of the greatest flower show on earth (okay, as Londoners we may be slightly biased). In between admiring the Show Gardens, jotting down names of plants you’d like to grow and worrying that your garden isn’t looking perfect, may we recommend that you set a little time aside to enjoy these three very different but delightful books.
Clare Hastings, Gardening Notes from a Late Bloomer
Many years ago Anne Scott-James handed down her gardening wisdom to her daughter Clare. A late-comer to gardening, it is now that daughter’s turn to encourage and guide her daughter. The pivotal moment for Clare was when she realised that she would never be a ‘proper plantsman’ and that it didn’t matter; she could still enjoy gardening. Chattily written with wonderful illustrations by Osbert Lancaster (Clare’s step-father) this book is a gardening memoir, recipe book and practical guide rolled into one.
Many of us dream of creating a garden from scratch, few imagine such an audacious scheme as Charlie, with ‘avenues and rooms linked by clearly demarcated walks’. The five acres stretching away from Peverels, a house in East Anglia, was a largely blank canvas and for Charlie it was love at first sight. Three years and a herniated disc later he has realised much of his plan and, in the process, buried many of his fears and anxieties. The book is a particularly apposite read during Chelsea week as, in the middle of all this, he became campaign manager for the 2016 Modern Slavery Garden which won a Gold Medal. The cathartic process of gardening is well-known; seldom has it been the subject of so charming a book.
John Sales, Shades of Green: My Life as the National Trust’s Head of Gardens
The National Trust’s assembly of gardens and landscape parks is the greatest in the world. John Sales became assistant to the gardens advisor (Graham Thomas) in 1971 and went on to be Head of Gardens for twenty-seven years. Through fifty gardens from Cragside to Killerton he tells the story of those years – grappling with the problems of too many visitors, not enough money and too few staff. Told from a unique perspective this is a fascinating history which will make you want to visit, or revisit all the gardens he describes.
To order any of these books please email (firstname.lastname@example.org ), telephone (020 7493 9921) or, better still, visit the shop. We are open from 9.30-8 Mondays to Saturdays and 12.30-6.30 on Sundays. We look forward to seeing you.