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Gardening books: holiday reading


by James Alexander-Sinclair

[...] a holiday is not really a proper holiday without a couple of books to while away moments of idleness. May I suggest a couple of excellent garden-related books for your consideration?


Books on a shelfAre you off on holiday? I do hope so. A week or two spent lying around not doing much is an excellent way of restoring a gardener’s energy and enthusiasm. Maybe you would rather charge about being active instead, never happier than when going for a run in the morning and a cross-country bicycle ride in the afternoon. Or perhaps your holidays are spent in the relentless search for culture, museums and stately homes never far from your inquiring mind.

Whatever your choice, a holiday is not really a proper holiday without a couple of books to while away moments of idleness. A bit of light and trashy fiction is the usual choice teamed with one or two of the books that you were given for Christmas and have not got round to reading yet. Oh, and that slightly more intellectual book that you have been meaning to read for ages (usually the one that will remain, untroubled, in your suitcase).

May I suggest a couple of excellent garden-related books for your consideration?

First, Stephen Anderton’s biography of the great gardener and plantsman, Christopher Lloyd. Most of you will be familiar with his garden at Great Dixter, either through magazines, books or by visiting the garden. This book caused a bit of a kerfuffle when it was first published, due to the fair amount of gossip mixed in with the horticulture. Speculation about his sex life and tidbits about his odd family life (his mother, who often dressed up as a Puritan, ran his bath for him every evening until he was 51) was considered unhelpful. See what you think...

Less contentious and more amusing is Anthony Woodward's Garden in the Clouds. This is the story of Anthony and his family turning a Welsh smallholding into a garden worthy of the National Gardens Scheme. It is very easy to read and an excellent story involving the winching of a railway carriage up a mountain, a lot of fog, some sheep and a slightly scary NGS gardens inspector. This is a perfect book for a deckchair.

Perhaps if you are holidaying somewhere exceptionally lovely you may feel an urge for poetry. In which case I must recommend Weeds and Wild Flowers, a collection of poems by Alice Oswald, gorgeously illustrated by Jessica Greenman. The poems attribute various human characteristics, some funny, some tragic, to various well-known native plants. Beautifully written.

Alternatively you could read back copies of Hello! magazine. It’s your holiday. Enjoy yourselves.



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Gardeners' World Web User 19/08/2010 at 20:22

Well Folks not going on holiday, but the book reading is a must, I spend a lot of time reading and my favourite bedtime read is gardeners world,among many novels, and books containing all sorts of information, I do hope you all enjoy your holidays, must say I just don't have time to busy trying to do the garden.

Gardeners' World Web User 19/08/2010 at 22:06

Thanks,I'm always on the look out for good books and are adding these to my list.

Gardeners' World Web User 22/08/2010 at 21:13

Oxfam, Cancer Research, Scope, and all the other second-hand shops, all stock some great gardening books of which you’ll pay a fraction of the original selling price. As a complete novice gardener, who has just discovered the therapeutic effects of gardening, (at the ripe ago of 52) I’ve got some great books from these shops. Blimy I could have spent a small fortune buying brand new books. And after all, they all basically say the same things. So have a browse in your second hand charity shops and once you‘ve finished that particular book you can take it back for them to resell again., Oh and don’t forget your local library too. Get in there before they start closing them down with their local council cut backs. (Oxfam….Alan Titchmarsh “Supergardener” Hardback. Original price £16.99...Oxfam price….wait for it…..£2.50) I’ll be keeping this one, as it is quite good.

Gardeners' World Web User 25/08/2010 at 14:54

For my birthday in August one of my daughters gave me the RHS " Treasury of Flowers". If I had to endure all the horrors of leaving my garden this book would either make me turn round and go back home or help me through it. It is quite beautiful.

Gardeners' World Web User 27/08/2010 at 16:08

Can anybody advise me....I have been growing bell peppers in the greenhouse, some of which have small holes in them. There is no obvious sign of anything that could be making these holes, I have not been able to find any info via books but the peppers are spoilt both in appearance and texture. Help!!

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