April Reads: Gardens & Beyond

April Reads: Gardens & Beyond

Wild, The Naturalistic Garden, Noel Kingsbury.

As a theme that seems to be dominating garden design, ‘wild’ is a tricky one, because any element of management or design would surely suggest that a garden is really very far from its wild, natural state. In this beautifully photographed book, garden designer and writer Noel Kingsbury attempts to break this trend down for us by drawing together a collection of private and public gardens from around the world. A visual treat.


No Dig, Charles Dowding.

The latest and most comprehensive offering from vegetable guru Charles Dowding who is continuing his mission to persuade gardeners to mulch soil but leave it otherwise untilled, thereby preserving soil and mycelium structure and encouraging healthy plant growth. His low input, high yield approach is ecologically friendly and a lot kinder on the back, whilst also being a lot more efficient than traditional, fork and spade methods. The book contains guides and calendars for what to sow, grow and harvest, plus the science behind his no dig technique.


All My Wild Mothers, Victoria Bennet.

This is a spell-binding, richly written work which is both a memoir and a retelling of lost herbal folklore. It describes the author’s attempts to nurture her young son whilst wrestling with her own  grief at losing her sister, all played out in the rewilding of a piece of industrial land in rural Cumbria. One of this year’s most captivatingly finds, unexpectedly unearthed from beneath the rubble of intimate loss.


The Walled Garden, Sarah Hardy.

This novel takes a fresh look at World War II and its aftermath. It is an impressive, immersive debut novel, set in the sometimes dreamy, often oppressive Suffolk countryside, which explores the traumas of war and the miracle of human resilience. It is 1946 and Alice’s husband Stephen, heir to Oakbourne Hall, has returned from service a ghost of the man he was, scarred by all that he has witnessed and endured. As Alice sets about saving her marriage, and her home, from destruction, she begins by breathing new life into the fruit trees of the walled garden.


English Garden Eccentrics, by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan.

Eccentric English garden designers and their extraordinary creations, between the early seventeenth and early twentieth centuries, are excavated and revealed by landscape artist and historian Todd Longstaffe-Gowan. This engaging and rather quirky book brings together garden and landscape history with biography and cultural history. Look out for “Lady Broughton’s Miniature Copy of the Swiss Glaciers”, and the “Burrowing Duke at Harcourt House”. A call to modern garden designers to dare to be brave, it is also a deliciously fun read.