Put down your tools
BOOKS:It's time to go indoors and sit by the fireside with a good book – so here’s a few recommendations on the best gardening reads, writes FIONNUALA FALLON
It’s Christmas, that time of year when gardeners like to down tools and instead sit snugly indoors by a roaring fire with a good book. Of those I’ve read so far this year, I’ve especially enjoyed Just Vegetating: A Memoir by Joy Larkcom (Frances Lincoln, £18.99), Trevor’s Kitchen Garden by Trevor Sargent (Orpen Press, €18.99) and The Urban Kitchen Gardener by Tom Moggach (Kyle Cathie, £20).
I’m looking forward to poring through the pages of Rosemary Verey: The Life Lessons of a Legendary Gardener by Barbara Paul Robinson (David R Godine, 2012, $30). But what is going to be on the bookshelves of other gardeners this Christmas?
Helen Dillon, gardener and author
“At the moment I’m enjoying Thoughtful Gardening: Great Plants, Great Gardens, Great Gardeners by the Financial Times’ long-time gardening columnist Robin Lane Fox (Penguin Books, £25, 2010). What I love about this book is the fact that the author isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and really doesn’t care whether his opinions are PC or not. The other book I’m reading and the one I keep by my bedside, is Just Vegetating: A Memoir by Joy Larkcom, a writer and gardener whom I greatly respect. I simply couldn’t say enough good things about this book.”
Matthew Jebbe, director of the National Botanic Gardens
“In Praise of Plants, by the French botanist and expert in tropical plants, David Hallé (Timber Press, 2011, £25), recently translated into English by David Lee, is a scholarly, original and memorable book. . . Hallé is fascinated by the architecture of plants, which he compares to that of the animal world . . . A very inspiring read.”
Jimi Blake, gardener and owner of Hunting Brook gardens
“Guide to the Flowers of Western China by Christopher Grey-Wilson and Philip Cribb (Kew Publishing, £70, 2011) is a beautiful book, full of thousands of glorious photographs and one which really tempts me to make a return trip to China.”
Robert Myerscough, president of the RHSI
“Just Vegetating: A Memoir by Joy Larkcom: It’s a wonderful book to have by the bedside for gardeners like me, who are beginners in growing their own food, as well as anyone interested in the subject. As informative as it is entertaining.”
Angela Jupe, garden architect and former chairman of GLDA
“I was delighted when a client recently presented me with a copy of Edwardian Country Life: The Story of H Avray Tipping by Helen Gerrish (Frances Lincoln, 2011, £35) – this lovely book is about a writer and talented garden designer of the Arts Crafts period who was also a friend and contemporary of Gertrude Jekyll and Harold Peto.
“Another book that I’m thoroughly enjoying is The Golden Age of Botanical Art by Martin Rix (Andre Deutsch with Kew Books, 2012, £25).”
Oliver Schurmann, garden designer and co-owner of Mount Venus Nursery
“The book I’ve ordered for Liat (and myself!) for Christmas is The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage by David L Culp (Timber Press, 2012, £25) – an inspiring book for people to learn how to structure good planting schemes with shrubs, trees and especially perennials, with an emphasis on sustainability and all-year-round interest.”
Joy Larkcom, garden writer and maker
“I hope Father Christmas is reading this, because I am utterly bewitched by glimpses of the evocative photos, ideas and text in Kim Wilkie’s Led by the Land (Frances Lincoln, 2012, £35). The photos both capture the inherent beauty in landscape, and show what mere gardening mortals can create to reflect it.
“I would love to get a copy of Christopher Lloyd’s The Well Tempered Garden, originally published in 1970, last reissued in 2003 (Weidenfeld Nicolson, available second-hand). I lost my copy long ago, but his blend of opinionated, humorous, but absolutely sound practical advice and observation is unique.”
Fionnuala Fallon is the author of From the Ground Up: How Ireland is Growing Its Own (Collins Press, 2012, €24.99)