Having described General Garden Guides and Garden Design books last month, this post is devoted to books about specific types of gardens: Cutting Gardens; Cottage Gardens; and Herb Gardens. Later this week, I will post Part Two, which will examine books about Sustainable and Organic Gardens and Dry Climate Gardens.
- Cutting Gardens
Having loved flowers from an early age, both inside and outside the house, and having been alerted to the less environmental aspects of the modern flower trade during my floristry course, I have always hankered after my own cutting garden, where I could grow blooms organically and sustainably, including more fragile flowers, which do not transport well and hence never appear at the wholesale florist markets (and therefore, not in retail floristry either!), and which I could pick straight out of the garden and into a bucket of water with minimal disturbance to the flower and maximum potential and vase longevity! There are many books on this old, yet contemporary concept, but here are a few of my favourites!
Sarah Raven tops the list with two books:
The Cutting Garden: Growing and Arranging Flowers 1996 and The Bold and Brilliant Garden 1999. Both are sumptuous inspiring books with lots of practical information as well. Sarah puts all her ideas into practice at her organic farm, Perch Farm, in East Sussex and has a wonderful web site. See: https://www.sarahraven.com/. She is one very busy lady! Not only does she sell a huge variety of seeds, plants and bulbs, but also anything to do with the garden: tools; clothing; ties, markers and labels; and baskets and those delightful traditional gardening trugs; as well as floristry – tools; floral pin holders; tools and vases. She has catalogues; instruction booklets and videos; a newsletter and a fantastic blog; monthly updates on seeds to plant and jobs to do; a range of delicious recipes using home-grown produce and a enormous range of courses and events. Courses cover the whole gamut from flowers and floristry courses to vegetable gardening; food and cookery and gardening in general. She hosts garden tours of both Perch Hill and Sissinghurst, her husband Adam Nicholson’s family home, as well as Open Days (see: https://www.sarahraven.com/customer/pages/open-days). She even has her own You-Tube channel ! : https://www.youtube.com/user/sarahravensgarden.
Sarah and Adam have lived at Perch Hill for 15 years, converting a rundown ex-dairy farm to a 90 acre organic farm, running Sussex cattle, Middle White pigs and Romney Cross sheep, as well containing Sarah’s wonderful Cutting Garden, specifically for harvesting. The four central beds are filled with hardy, half-hardy and biennial plants, with 2 or 3 different crops in the same square foot of soil in each calendar year. In the second growing season, half-hardy annuals predominate from High Summer through to Autumn and are gradually replaced by biennials. There is also a highly productive 1000 square metre vegetable plot; two ornamental gardens: the Oast Garden, which is a riot of colour and structure, and the calmer Front Farmhouse Garden; and a willow bed and silver birch copse for providing the raw material to make plant supports. If you would like you know more about this inspiring lady, see:
But back to her books!!! The Cutting Garden is now a flower arranger’s classic. She has chapters on planning and stocking the garden for all seasons and garden sizes and types; everything to do with flower arranging in all seasons, including step-by-step guides for creating some of her stunning bouquets, balls and wreaths and notes on cutting and conditioning flowers to choosing the correct vase; and a detailed guide to flowers and foliage throughout the seasons, including varieties good for cutting; conditioning and cultivation. It is a truly beautiful book and one I would not be without!
Her second book, The Bold and Beautiful Garden, is equally lavish and stunning! Her bold use of colour and floral combinations are breath-taking! Her chapters follow the seasons from Spring to Early/High and Late Summer and finally Autumn with sections on planting in the sun; shade and partial shade; and damp ground. At the beginning of each chapter is a montage of photographs of blooms used in each season, presented on a black page for full contrast to the jewel-like colours! There are also watercolour maps of planting schemes. It is a magnificent book! Sarah has written many more books. See: https://www.sarahraven.com/home_lifestyle/signed_books_stationery.Another favourite book about cutting gardens is The Cut Flower Patch: Grow Your Own Cut Flowers All Year Round by Louise Curley 2014. I love this book for its simplicity, its practicality and its environmental ethos. Her chapters cover planning, making and maintaining a cutting patch; all the different flower types from annuals and biennials; bulbs, corms and tubers; and foliage and fillers; cutting and displaying flowers year round; a short history of traditional flower growing, including a list of websites for sustainable floristry; and a year on the patch with calendars for sowing, planting and cutting. It’s a lovely little book and very readable.
The Flower Arranger’s Garden by Rosemary Verey 1989 is my final book in this section, although really all aspects of gardening are inter-related and blend into each other, like my next section on old-fashioned cottage gardens, which traditionally were the main source of many of the flowers used to decorate the house. I mentioned Rosemary Verey (1918-2001) last month in my post on garden design:https://candeloblooms.com/2017/02/21/garden-guides-and-garden-design-books/. She was a renowned plantswoman with a beautiful garden at Barnsley House in Gloucestershire and has written many books on gardening. This book is a worthy addition to any flower arrangers’ library. She writes about planning the garden to provide flowers for the house year-round, with watercolour paintings and planting keys for a variety of different garden configurations: a Front Garden; a Water Garden; Long Sunny or Shady Borders; Island Beds with a cool or hot colour theme; and even a Herb Bed for flower arrangers. There are photos of different floral arrangements for each season; a comprehensive list of 64 essential plants for the flower arranger’s garden, grouped by colour range; and finally a chapter on gardening and flower arranging techniques.
- Cottage Gardens
I will start with the doyen of cottage gardening, another very famous British plantswoman, Margery Fish, who lived at East Lambrook Manor, Sussex and also wrote many books. She was also featured in my post last month on garden design books. I have her Cottage Garden Flowers 1980, a paperback reprint of her 1961 book, in my library. Being an old book, it only has black-and-white photos, which lend it an historical charm, but the text is as readable as ever, with chapters on Spring flowers and bulbs; Summer beauties and Autumn Tints; old cottage favourites; herbs and double blooms; and climbers, trees and shrubs.
Christopher Lloyd’s Flower Garden by Christopher Lloyd 1993 is another classic by the renowned plant writer, plantsman and owner of Great Dixter, Sussex, where his flower borders and plant colour combinations are legendary. Divided into seasons, each chapter explores seasonal plants; garden design and structure; specific plant types like tulips, roses and ferns/ foliage plants/ biennials/ self-seeders; and different garden types eg meadows/ ponds / pots and sinks and wall planting, all liberally supported by examples from his own garden.
I also have a number of general books on old-fashioned flowers, including: A Heritage of Flowers: Old-fashioned Flowers for Modern Gardens by Tovah Martin 1999; Antique Flowers: Classic Plants for the Contemporary Garden by Katherine Whiteside 1988; and Medieval Flowers by Miranda Innes and Clay Perry 1997.
Tovah Martin is an American author and horticulturalist and an expert on old-fashioned varieties. See: http://www.tovahmartin.com/. She has written a number of books, including Tasha Tudor’s Garden, a wonderful book, which I shall be discussing next month. In A Heritage of Flowers, she discusses the importance of heritage varieties in maintaining biodiversity and the continued health of the garden and our natural world; wildflowers and cottage-garden style gardening; and plant propagation techniques. She has a comprehensive and detailed directory of perennials and biennials; annuals; and bulbs and climbers, with interesting notes on the history; description; planting and maintenance; and recommended species for each plant. She also has a terrific directory of resources in the back of the book, including organizations, specialist nurseries, selected European nurseries and places to visit.Katherine Whiteside is another American garden writer and her book Antique Flowers is a beautiful coffee-table book, packed with information on the history of heritage flowers and a portfolio of 42 antique flower species, many of which I grow and all beautifully portrayed in stunning photographs by Anne’s husband, Mick Hales.It also has a list of sources and societies and organizations in the back, including Australian nurseries. It’s a really beautiful book!Medieval Flowers is the English equivalent of the last book, both in content and presentation, and describes a time when plants were primarily grown for their medicinal and culinary properties and were often imbued with symbolic and magical qualities. All the plants discussed are pre-Tudor (before 1500) and non-hybrid, where possible. The book follows the seasons, describing the dominant plants of the time, as well as medieval practices like feasting and fasting; herbal dyeing; potpourri; winemaking and keeping the medieval house; ancient rituals and the uses of each plant in medicine, cosmetics and the kitchen. It describes Queen Eleanor’s garden and medieval garden design, and finishes with a medieval plant directory of 72 commonly used plants and a list of gardens to visit. Another very interesting read!!!Heritage Gardening 1994 by prominent garden historian, Judyth McLeod, fits perfectly into both the cottage garden and vegetable garden sections of this post, but because it also features heirloom flowers and is written by an Australian writer, I am describing it here, as it leads very neatly into the remainder of this section, featuring books about cottage gardening in Australia. Judyth is passionate (and very knowledgeable!) about heritage varieties of both flowers and vegetables. Her first chapter also examines medieval plants, then she progresses in the following chapters to describe 16th and 17th century plants; the European kitchen garden; ancient herbs; heirloom fruits; my favourite Old Roses; cottage garden treasures; and imported heirloom plants from Mexico and South American, North America and Asia. Plants are coded with cultivation symbols including plant type; growing conditions and seasonal planting. There is so much interesting history in this book, as well as notes about future directions, seed saving and organic practices. There is an excellent directory in the back for specialist nurseries and seed sources throughout the world, as well as a list of international journals and suggestions for further reading.
So now for books specializing in cottage gardening in Australia…!
The first book is, appropriately titled just that! Cottage Gardening in Australia by Christine Dann and Rachel Tracey 1994, though its subtitle goes on to say : A Guide to Plant Identification and Design. It also covers a lot of history from the English cottager’s legacy to early colonial gardens. It then examines contemporary cottage gardening and its underlying principles – productivity, practicality, a profusion of plants and ecological sensitivity, before expanding on cottage garden design and practical techniques for achieving it. Finally, it has a list of nurseries, seed suppliers and gardens to visit in Australia; a photographic identification guide for roses and cottage garden plants and a tabled appendix of traditional English cottage garden plants with details about the scientific and common names; colour; plant type; height; season and sun and moisture requirements. It is an excellent book if you can only have one in your library!
South Australian garden historian and writer, not to mention founder of Heritage Roses in Australia Inc (!), Trevor Nottle, who has also written books about heritage roses (see my post on Rose Books : https://candeloblooms.com/2017/01/10/fabulous-rose-books/), has also written two books pertinent to this section: Old-Fashioned Gardens 1992 and Growing Perennials 1984. In Old-Fashioned Gardens, he introduces us to Australia’s garden history and the 19th century colonial garden and describes the different sections and elements of the cottage garden in Australia – the ornamental front garden, garden paths and hedges; the side gardens, orchards and drystone walls; the productive kitchen garden in the back yard and potted plants on the verandah. Part Two has detailed descriptions of different cottage plants – the self-sowing annuals and perennials; the roses of yesteryear; geraniums and fuchsias; jonquils and tazettas; and finally permanent bedding-out plants, including succulents and grasses. His appendix includes old-fashioned plant sources, seed suppliers and societies in Australia and New Zealand. Growing Perennials is a much simpler and very practical paperback, which defines perennials and has notes on perennial propagation techniques; establishing and maintaining a perennial garden; pests and diseases; and the use of perennials in the herbaceous border; mixed borders; pots and containers; and as accent plants. There is a quick reference guide to plants in the back, as well as lists of societies and sources of plants. He covers over 650 perennials, including old favourites and recent introductions with over 110 colour illustrations, including many new Australian-raised varieties and suggestions for special situations, interesting foliage and colour groupings. A very useful book indeed!
And finally, the delightful Frances Kelly, who has written a number of books, of which I have quite a few! They include: A Simple Pleasure: The Art of Garden Making in Australia 1982; The Tiny Utopia: A Minimum Effort Maximum Effect Garden Book 1977, written in conjunction with Pauline Clements; A Perfumed Garden 1981 and The Illustrated Language of Flowers: Magic, Meaning and Lore 1992. I have to admit that unfortunately, I cannot place my finger on A Simple Pleasure – either I have given it away in a fit of ruthlessness or it’s packed away in a box somewhere! Not that it wasn’t any good, but I obviously have too many books on the history of cottage gardening in Australia! Maybe, the colour photographs of the afore-mentioned books won over the black-and-white ones of this missing or discarded book! Here is a link, in lieu of a photograph! See : http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Simple-Pleasure-Garden-Making-Australia-Frances-Kelly-/261081232160?hash=item3cc9a77320.
I loved The Tiny Utopia! It’s a quirky little book with delightful pencil sketches, illustrating suggestions for ‘the Australian gardener with limited space and limited time’. She looks at balcony gardens; water gardens; natives and problem areas; bulbs and roses; walls and trellises; trees; vegetables; companion planting and container gardens, and includes lists of annuals and perennials for seasonal flowering, full sun and shade; and climbers, ground covers and pot plants. A Perfumed Garden is also a lovely little book, especially because I place a high emphasis on scent in the garden! Most of the plants I grow are fragrant and I feel the lack of perfume in a plant is a major defect, only rectified by other admirable qualities like colour and longevity eg zinnias and dahlias! In this book, Frances gives a brief history of perfumed gardens and plants, including Australian flora; a few pointers for garden design and maintenance; lists of plants chosen for colour; height; shade tolerance and aromatic foliage; and detailed notes for 83 different kinds of scented plants, including many Australian natives. The last two chapters discuss the history of the perfume industry and includes recipes for home production of scented products -perfume, potpourri, pomanders, scented water, talcum powder and aromatic oils.
Finally, The Illustrated Language of Flowers, a fascinating book about the magic of flowers – the ancient myths and meanings behind them; their use in medicine and cookery, flower arranging and their cultivation and preservation. Beautifully illustrated by botanical artist, Amanda Cuncliffe, and liberally peppered with poetry and quotations, this lovely book is a boon for both the cottage gardener and the flower arranger. There are so many interesting avenues to pursue from flower dialogues,flower language for brides, floral clocks and flowers for sacred or scented gardens to Bach Flower remedies, aromatics and recipes for natural bath products and cosmetics, perfume and attars, scented waters, sweet bags, fragrant beads and even rose delicacies and other edible flowers.
3. Herb Gardens
I have always loved herbs and started my first herb garden when I was 16 years of age. Formative influences include John and Rosemary Hemphill, whose name is synonymous with herb gardening in Australia. We have three of their books : Spice and Savour by Rosemary Hemphill 1964; Herbs For All Seasons by Rosemary Hemphill 1972 and Hemphill’s Book of Herbs by John and Rosemary Hemphill 1990. All books have a wealth of information about herbs, including fabulous recipes.
Spice and Savour focuses on dried herbs; spices and aromatic seeds and their uses, while Herbs For All Seasons takes a seasonal approach to herbs. Spicy fines herbes; nourishing pot herbs and flowers for fragrance and health are discussed in Spring; salad herbs and old-fashioned trees (bay, elder and lemon verbena) in Summer; harvest fruits and seeds in Autumn (crab apples; cumquats; quinces; rose hips; anise; caraway; dill; fennel and coriander) and warming pungent herbs and restorative and tonic herbs in Winter.
The final book, Hemphill’s Book of Herbs, has chapters on the history of herbs, herb gardens, propagating and cultivating herbs and specific notes and photographs on all the herbs, including notes on description; history and mythology; cultivation; harvesting and processing; and uses (culinary, medicinal, cosmetic and in companion planting). There are further chapters on the use of herbs in medicine, cooking, herbal teas, cosmetics, and gifts with plenty of wonderful recipes.
Two more Australian interesting herb gardening books, both published in 1996, include : Themes For Herb Gardens by Kim Fletcher and Gardens For Pleasure by Brodee Myers-Cooke.
Themes For Herb Gardens is a fascinating book with some wonderful ideas for theme gardens from Craft, Tussie-Mussie and Dye Gardens; Biblical, Saint and Mary Gardens; Shakespeare and Knot Gardens; Gardens for Cats and Children; Witch and Zodiac Gardens; Physic Gardens and Gardens for the Senses; and even an Aphrodisiac Garden!
Gardens for Pleasure elaborates on this idea of theme gardens with Sensory Gardens (Sound, Smell, Touch, Taste and Night Gardens); Wildlife Gardens (Butterflies, Birds and Bees); Relaxation Gardens (Reading, Resting and Bathing Gardens); and Interactive Gardens (Tea Garden, Posy Garden and Maze Garden). Each chapter has a detailed garden plan with planting suggestions (herbs and other plants) and notes for gardens of different sizes (large, small and tiny). There is also an excellent chapter on landscaping, including horizontal elements (steps; paths; paving; and lawns) and vertical elements (walls and fences; arches and tunnels; pergolas and arbours; and tripods and poles). Finally, there is a Plant Index Guide with a key guide for plant size and type; sun and water requirements; frost-hardiness; container-growing; and a variety of garden types, as well as detailed notes about each plant. It’s a lovely imaginative book, which gives you an idea of the myriad of possibilities when it comes to different types of garden.
On Thursday, I will be discussing the second part of this post: vegetable gardens, organic and sustainable gardens and water-wise and dry climate gardens.