Inspirational and Dreamy Garden Books: Part One: Inspiring Books and Garden Travel Books

As the growing season slows down and we head towards the cooler weather, it is lovely to know that we have some beautiful, dreamy and inspirational books to browse by the fire in Winter! As editor, Ferris Cook, writes on page 12 in the foreword to his book, ‘Invitation to the Garden’, the first book featured below : ‘ Like so many other gardeners separated from their gardens by darkness, miles or inclement weather, I love to read about other gardens when I can’t be in mine’. I have divided these books into four sections :

  • Inspiring books about gardening and plants in general
  • General garden travel books
  • Books about specific gardens
  • Books about specific plants

And once again, this post is too long – too many wonderful books and too much to say about them! – so I have divided it into three posts : Part One on beautiful garden publications and general garden travel books (today); Part Two on specific overseas gardens (May); and Part Three on books about Australian gardens and specific plants (June).

Inspiring books about gardening and plants in general

Invitation to the Garden: A Celebration in Literature and Photography, edited by Ferris Cook 1992

The perfect title to start a post on garden books and it certainly lives up to the claim of its subtitle, as well as its reputation! Indeed, it was the winner of the 1992 Award for Excellence in Garden Communication from the Garden Writers’ Association of America. Divided into seasons, it is a wonderful read, which can be dipped into at random, always finding an interesting snippet or pertinent quote, poem or prose and always accompanied by the most beautiful sumptuous photos by specialist garden photographers: Ping Amranand; Ken Druse; Richard Felber; Mick Hales; Harry Haralambou; Peter C. Jones; Peter Margonelli; Hugh Palmer; and Curtice Taylor.

A good example is the very first entry in Spring, ‘Down the Garden Path’ by Beverley Nichols, in which she describes that familiar daily habit of all gardeners, ‘Making the Tour’, involving a detailed examination of every square inch of the garden and noting all new discoveries and happenings! In reality, I probably do this at least three or four times a day!!!

There are poems by Homer and Shakespeare; John Donne and Robert Herrick; the three Williams (excluding Shakespeare, as he was so much earlier!) : William Cowper, William Blake and William Wordsworth; Matthew Arnold and Emily Dickinson; two Roberts :  Robert Bridges and Robert Frost; A A Milne and Virginia Woolf; Rainer Maria Rilke and William Carlos Williams (that’s two more Williams in one!!); Pablo Neruda; W H Auden; Sylvia Plath; and e e cummings; and that’s only a fraction of them!

There are also excerpts by Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Old Manse); Ivan Turgenev (The Rose); Lewis Carroll (The Garden of Live Flowers); William Morris (Collected Letters: Kelmscott); Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden); Edith Wharton (Italian Garden Magic); E A Bowles (The Passing of Summer); H G Wells (The Flowering of the Strange Orchid); Colette (The Ways of Wisteria; and Hellebores); John Steinbeck (The Chrysanthemums); and Laurie Lee (Segovia-Madrid), again only a small selection of the entries! Hopefully, the titles are enough to entice you to search out this book!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (430)

The Illustrated Virago Book of Women Gardeners, edited by Deborah Kellaway 1997

An equally delightful coffee-table book to be enjoyed at leisure! Illustrated with beautiful artwork and superb photographs throughout, this anthology of musings by women garden writers is divided (for easy reference) into chapters, titled : Weeders and Diggers; Advisers and Designers; Plantswomen; Colourists; Countrywomen; Townswomen; Visitors and Travellers; Kitchen Gardeners; Flower Arrangers and Visionaries. Its writers represent a ‘Who’s Who’ of the gardening world with names like Gertrude Jekyll;  Alicia Amherst, Elizabeth von Arnim, Norah Lindsay, Beatrix Farrand, Constance Spry, Vita Sackville-West, Margery Fish, Edna Walling, Beth Chatto, Penelope Hobhouse, Rosemary Verey, Nancy Steen, Mary Keen, Valerie Finnis, Ursula Buchan, Joy Larkcom, Jane Taylor and Mirabel Osler, but there are so many other authors!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (432)Natural Companions: The Garden Lover’s Guide to Plant Combinations by Ken Druse and Ellen Hoverkamp  2012

I loved both the first two books equally well, but I ADORED this book! This would have to be the mosr beautiful book I have ever seen ! Every page is such a visual treat and showcases all the incredible treasures our Earth holds and their infinite diversity of colour, form, texture and function! Absolutely stunning photography, both of beautiful gardens and separate plant combinations, presented dramatically against a black background in the style of a combination of 1920s and 1930s American photographer, Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) (https://www.imogencunningham.com/plants/) and English botanical collage artist, Mrs. Mary Delany, whose beautiful paper collages can be seen at: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx?searchText=Mary+Delany. While I knew the work of Mary Delany, which inspired my floral collage cards (see: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/08/ambassadors-of-spring/), I did not know of Imogen Cunningham, but have fallen in love with all her work, from plant studies and still lifes to portraits and romantic family shots; the beauty of the human body (nudes; dancers) and her street scenes and landscapes. I particularly loved her photographs of the stunning architectural blooms of the Bull Bay Magnolia (Magnolia Blossom 1925 and Magnolia Blossom, Tower of Jewels, 1925), as can be seen in the above link.BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (455)

Ellen creates her floral photographs, using a flatbed scanner and produces images of unparalleled depth, colour and beauty. I found it impossible to select a favourite plate to show you, but here are some examples:

There are over 100 species botanical images of plants, which bloom simultaneously and compliment each other perfectly. They are organized by theme: seasons; plant families; form and function; colour; place (eg woods; open spaces; damp areas; rocky sites) and purpose (eg fragrance; butterflies; edible flowers; secret; literary; boxed; health and beauty; art; and nighttime). It is such a beautiful book and a lovely one to dip into whenever you get a chance! I cannot recommend it highly enough! Appendices include a list of edible flowers and flower meanings.BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd60%Image (463)The Language of Flowers: a Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh  2011

A totally different book, both to the previous three coffee-table books, this one being a first-time novel, but also refreshingly original in concept and style. Based on the Victorian language of flowers, a compendium of which is included in the back of the book, this novel is written in first person, following the life of Victoria, an ex-foster child and florist and exploring complex themes like maternal love, forgiveness and redemption. Being a flower arranger, I was instantly attracted to this book and once started, I could not put it down! It is so easy to read and so hard to put down!  Plus, I have used the flower dictionary constantly, when making my floral collage cards for friends and family.

BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd40%Image (450) - CopyBlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd20%IMG_0499BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd20%IMG_0501Seasons at Home: Food, Family, Friends and Style by Holly Kerr Forsyth 2011

Another lovely offering from Holly Kerr Forsyth with her trademark style of seasonal projects and delicious recipes and preserves. I have given friends copies of some of her other books: Country Gardens, Country Hospitality and Seasons in My House and Garden: see http://www.hollyforsyth.com.au/shop/books.html  ;  https://www.bookdepository.com/Seasons-My-House-Garden-Holly-Kerr-Forsyth/9780522857825 and https://www.bookdepository.com/Country-Gardens-Country-Hospitality-Visit-Australias-Best-Holly-Kerr-Forsyth/9780522864793.

Both are beautiful books, which I would love to own one day, but in the meantime, I am enjoying this smaller book: Seasons at Home! While this book would fit equally well into my cookery book post later in the year, I have included it here because of its gardening and flower arranging content. Her photographs, styling and interiors are so beautiful and inspiring, how could I do otherwise!! Also, this book is a perfect lead-in to the next section with the first book also written by this knowledgeable lady!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd30%Image (433)

 General Garden Travel Books

Gardens of Eden: Among the World’s Most Beautiful Gardens by Holly Kerr Forsyth 2009

A Christmas present in 2012, when I was studying garden design at Burnley, this beautiful book covers fifty of the world’s most beautiful and famous gardens. Lavishly illustrated with over 500 photos, the gardens are divided into chapters titled : Lessons in Garden History; A Sense of Place; The Designer in the Garden; The Gardens of Politicians, Writers, Artists and Collectors; Clipped Perfection; Grand Passions and Private Pleasures; Water Delights; and Places to Pray or Play In. They span different historical periods, garden styles and cultures from the Paradise Gardens of Ancient Persia to the romantic rose-covered ruins of Ninfa and the Italian Renaissance gardens in Italy; the wildflower meadows of William Robinson’s Gravetye Manor to the Arts and Crafts gardening style of Gertrude Jekyll-Edwin Lutyens (Upton Grey and Hestercombe) in England and Beatrix Farrand’s Dumbarton Oaks in the United States of America; the famous gardens of Sissinghurst Castle (UK), Le Canadel (France) and the island gardens of Isola Bella, Isola Madre and La Mortella (Italy); and  the Buddhist-inspired gardens of China and Japan, not to mention Australian country gardens like Bentley (Tasmania), Jack’s Ridge (Victoria) and Nooroo, Bebeah and the Berman Gardens (NSW). A wonderful book for armchair travel and research for your next garden adventure!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (435)A Photographic Garden History by Roger Phillips and Nicky Foy 1995

For a more in-depth look at garden history, predominantly through photographs! This book is organized into three main sections. The first part covers the European Tradition, starting with Roman peristyle gardens and moving chronologically from Islamic influences to Italian Renaissance gardens; the French Formal movement and the romantic/ potager style in France; the Baroque German and Dutch gardens; and the British medieval gardens to the English Landscape movement; Victorian and Edwardian gardens and natural gardening styles. The second section focuses on Chinese gardens, while the third section explores Japanese gardens. The text is backed up with featured gardens with specific details and notes on their date and features, as well as their place and importance within the particular historical background. Throughout the book are topics of pertinent interest to the time period or garden style, covering a broad range of subjects from garden elements (potagers; parterres and carpet bedding; topiary and mazes; rockeries; water features (lakes; ponds and pools; waterfalls and fountains); the concept of garden rooms and borrowed landscapes; and specific gardens for roses, natives and Autumn foliage colour) to garden structures (garden buildings and furniture; arbours and arches; follies and grottoes; steps and staircases; gates and fences; and even ha-ha walls) and decorative techniques (trompe l’oeil; shellwork; mosaics; sculptures; and pots and urns). I initially borrowed this book from the library, but found it to be so comprehensive and interesting that I just had to order it for my horticultural library!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (436)

The Gardens of Europe, edited by Penelope Hobhouse and Patrick Taylor 1990

Edited by garden writing doyens, Penelope Hobhouse and Patrick Taylor, this book focuses on 700 European gardens, open to the public, from the Mediterranean gardens of Southern Europe (Italy, France, Spain and Portugal); the cooler, more temperate gardens of Northern Europe (Great Britain and Ireland; Belgium; Holland and Scandinavia); and the gardens of Central Europe (Austria, Switzerland and West Germany) and the Balkans, East Europe and Russia (Bulgaria; Czechoslovakia; East Germany; Greece; Hungary; Poland; Romania; European Russia; Turkey and the then, Yugoslavia). Even though this is quite an old book now and the details of opening hours and admission charges might be out-of-date, the basic information about its history, general design and prominent features is still relevant and is a starting point for further up-to-date research. There is a biographical list or principal architects, garden designers and gardeners in the back, as well as a glossary and bibliography of further books (guide books and history) to read.BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (437)

Gardens of Persia by Penelope Hobhouse 2006

I have always loved the underlying concepts of the Islamic garden : an enclosed protected paradise with a quadripartite layout (a four-fold pattern called chahar bagh) and watercourses forming the principal and secondary axes, all meeting at a central pool or pavilion and representing the four rivers of life. They are full of colourful flowers and bulbs, shady fruit trees and birdsong; a place for contemplation and spiritual nourishment; and a little oasis in a challenging hot and dry climate, the latter, which I suspect will be increasingly valued in our Western world with the increasing temperatures and prevalence of drought with climate change. In this book, Penelope explores these notions, as well as the elements and history of Islamic garden design; the climate and environment; flowers and trees planted and of course, the spiritual dimension. Throughout the book, she provides many examples of Islamic gardens from Cyrus the Great’s garden at Pasargadae 2,500 years ago, Timur’s gardens at Samarkand (late 1300s); his son Shah Rokh’s gardens at Herat (1400s); and Bagh-e-Fin (1504) and other Safavid gardens to the 18th century gardens of Shiraz, ‘city of roses and nightingagles, cypresses and wine, and poetry and painted miniatures’: Bagh-e-Eram (Garden of Heaven); Bagh-e Golshan (1760s); and Bagh-e Shahzadeh (Prince’s Garden 1880s); the Mostoufi Garden, Tehran, 1930s; the geometric Moorish gardens of Southern Spain like the Generalife and the Mughal gardens of Northern India and Kashmir. All, of course, accompanied by beautiful Islamic architecture! In the back, notes on each garden for travellers, lists of the royal houses of Persia and Persian plants and a glossary of Persian terms. A very interesting and informative book, as well as a feast for the eyes! Readers, who want more information on Islamic Gardens may be interested in these links : http://gardendrum.com/2017/02/24/take-the-ancient-silk-road-to-a-2500-year-old-garden/ and http://gardendrum.com/2017/02/23/berber-home-and-garden-morocco/.

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The Secret Gardens of France by Mirabel Osler 1992

I have already briefly mentioned this book in my post on Favourite Rose Books (see: https://candeloblooms.com/category/rose-books/), as it described one of my favourite bucket-list French rose gardens, La Bonne Maison, as well as the roses of André Eve. However, it discusses 18 other gardens in France from productive potagers to medieval herb gardens; Nicole de Vesian’s architectural topiaried balls of lavender and rosemary in the Luberon to a coastal garden in Brittany; and another bucket-list garden, Le Jardin des Cinq Sens at Chateau d’Yvoire on the shores of Lac Leman. Mirabel has a lovely writing style- very chatty, enthusiastic and inclusive- and all the gardeners featured are very inspiring! While many of the gardens are private and not open to the public, this book is a lovely read with a wealth of ideas and information.

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Kitchen Gardens of France by Louisa Jones 1997

I would love to do a garden tour with Louisa Jones (see: http://www.louisajones.fr/) !!! While she has written many books on the gardens of Provence and the French Riviera, this particular book is about French kitchen gardens. She examines Heritage Gardens (medieval plots; renaissance gardens; potagers and heirloom vegetables ); Grassroots Gardening (from country potagers in the Ardeche to village greens and community gardens; city allotments in Paris and hortillinages (floating islands) in Amiens; and Hmong gardens at Alençon in Normandy); Dream and Utopian Paradises (the jardin de curé style; Rousseau’s orchard-garden; Pigeard’s mystic metalwork; photographer, Denis Brihat’s alchemist workshop in Provence and another bucket-list garden, the organic  garden of Terre Vivante in the Domaine de Raud in the Alps); and Vegetable Graces (gastronomic  creations and designer visions; Gilles Clement’s moving potager; and future fashions). This last chapter has an in-depth look at the Gardens For the Five Senses, mentioned in Mirabel Osler’s book. The text is supported by many showcase gardens and beautiful seductive photographs. It is such a dreamy inspirational book! Details about each garden featured can be found in the back. For more ideas about gardens to visit, it is worth consulting Louisa’s blog (http://www.louisajones.fr/blog/index) and Links pages (http://www.louisajones.fr/links).

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The French Country Garden by Louisa Jones 2000/ 2005

A very recent addition to my library and a wonderful find! Thank you, Denise! I was delighted to add this book to my library, as it discusses many French gardeners and their gardens, whose names I knew, but were not necessarily covered by my other books like Nicole Arboireau on the French Riviera; Doudou Bayol in Provence (what an amazing sense of colour!); Martine and Francois Lemonnier, who have the National Collection Label (CCVS) for Meconopsis and Hellebores, in Normandy; Mme Marie-Joseph Teillard in the foothills of the Pyrenees; Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières at Cordes-sur-Ciel; Eléonore Cruse at La Roseraie de Berty in the Ardèche; as well as old favourites like Alain Richert of the Garden of the Five Senses, Yvoire; Nicole de Vésian in Provence; Gilles Clément of the Centre Terre Vivante at the Domaine de Raud and the different biomes of Le Domaine du Rayol. These gardens and more are discussed in depth in her chapters, each featuring three gardens, and titled : Intimate Country Gardens; A Passion for Plants; Celebration of the Senses; Formal Play; Nature’s Ways; and Planetary Perspectives. The photos again are superb and complement the text perfectly. Another beautiful book to browse…!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd30%Image (543)Great Gardens of Britain by Helena Attlee 2011

A lovely book about 20 wonderful gardens in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. A difficult task selecting only twenty garden, but those chosen celebrate their diversity in garden styles, plants, settings and history. This is a wonderful guide with beautiful glossy photos and is essential reading for those planning a garden trip to Great Britain. Inspired and informed by this very book, I would love to visit Charles Jenck’s earthworks and waveforms at his Garden of Cosmic Speculation on the one day of the year it is open !; Ian Hamilton Finlay’s concrete poetry at Little Sparta; the famous topiary at Levens Hall; Scampton’s perennial naturalistic meadow, designed by Piet Oudolf; the rhododendrons and five terraces of Bodnant, North Wales, including its famous Laburnum Arch; the lakes and classical temples of Stourhead; Lawrence Johnston’s garden rooms at Hidcote Manor; Christopher Lloyd’s herbaceous borders of Great Dixter; the restored gardens of the East Ruston Old Vicarage and Beth Chatto’s gravel gardens; the holy grail of old rose gardens, Sissinghurst Castle, made famous by Vita Sackville-West, with its garden rooms and  white garden; the extensive plant collections, trial gardens and scientific research laboratories of Wisley, the home and flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society; the futuristic environmentally-controlled geodesic domes of the Eden Project, the brain child of Tim Smit;  and the unlikely Mediterranean-style gardens of Tresco Abbey in the warmer climes of the remote Scilly Isles in the English Channel. Addresses and websites for all the gardens are listed in the back. We have already visited Kew Gardens twice, but it is such a wonderful garden, that I would always include it whenever I visit England and I would really like to see the Marianne North Gallery, which is devoted solely to the wonderful paintings of this amazing Victorian botanical artist and explorer. See: http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/explore/attractions/marianne-north-gallery and http://www.kew.org/mng/marianne-north.html, specifically: http://www.kew.org/mng/gallery/index.html.

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For those of us who may not travel overseas again, this form of armchair travel is a wonderful alternative! This book explored many gardens, not covered in the other books. Another book that I would love to find is Around the World in 80 Gardens by Monty Don, see : https://www.bookdepository.com/Around-World-80-Gardens-Monty-Don/9780297844501, as I really enjoy his films, but fortunately the film version of his book can be seen on YouTube. For Episode 1, see : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uityVe6OkCk. For a guide to the episodes, see : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008x9bh/episodes/guide.

Books on Specific Types of Gardens : Part One: Cutting Gardens, Cottage Gardens and Herb Gardens

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.

  1. 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:

http://www.sussexlife.co.uk/people/celebrity-interviews/sussex_plantswoman_sarah_raven_is_in_bloom_1_2258962.

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!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-383

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.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-384Another 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.

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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.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-381

  1. 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.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd30image-394-copy

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.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-397

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.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd30image-388Katherine 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!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-390Medieval 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!!!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-391Heritage 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.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-420

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!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-385

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.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-386 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!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd30image-387

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.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd30image-395 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.

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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.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-396

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd30image-418

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.BlogSpecific Garden BksReszd25%Image (416).jpg

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.