Our Flower Patch

Inspiring a new generation of growers

Garden inspiration – past and present




Half Term is a good time to get some inspiration for your flower patches either by visiting gardens or settling into a hammock with a good gardening book full of sound advice and LOTS of droolworthy colour pictures of delicious plant combinations. As my holiday had already been hi-jacked for a trip to London to visit the Science Museum and take in as many of our old haunts in North London as possible with the children, I had to be content with the latter. How fortunate then that Frances Lincoln had recently sent us a copy of First Ladies of Gardening to feed my passion for all things horticultural during a few days away.

Written in an engaging way by Heidi Howcroft and with the most beautiful full colour photographs of the views, vistas and plant combinations found in the inspiring gardens designed and maintained by fourteen  female British gardeners , it’s a real celebration of the English country house garden. A beautiful balance of words and pictures it covers some of the  noteworthy designers of the last century including Gertrude Jekyll, Rosemary Verey and Beth Chatto and the women who have continued with their legacy. The second half of the book focuses on  some modern ‘pioneers’ ( Rosanna James, Rachel James) who have made their gardens in some challenging conditions away from the traditional country house (Helen Dillon, Sue Whittington) . Yes there are some women missing who perhaps are worthy of consideration but the mix is nevertheless inspiring. Each chapter is more than just a glimpse over the garden wall  of gardens built at the seaside, in the heart of the city or on the edge of a hillside as well as  in the grounds of some of the most beautiful country houses of England.

First Ladies in Gardening


As well as a feast for the eyes each chapter contains a history of the garden, along with the “Guiding Principles” of the garden maker and their “Signature Plants” set out at the end in easy to find bullet point format.

I love the fact that most of these women are passionate amateurs, experimenting, making mistakes and learning on the job, rather like myself. None of their gardens are low maintenance, many have have tackled difficult sites and conditions and all have created gardens which reflect their personalities. That’s right up my street. For teachers, teaching assistants and parents who are inspiring a new generation of growers like the members of Our Flower Patch it’s the perfect way to get your own creative horticultural juices flowing.

To order First Ladies of Gardening at the discounted price of £16 including p&p* (RRP£20), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG290.
*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Thank you to Frances Lincoln for the review copy, the discount code for our readers, and for providing the images to use in this post.

First Ladies in Gardening

An inspiring read.

4 thoughts on “Garden inspiration – past and present

  1. It sounds interesting. I’ve added it to my christmas list….

  2. Reblogged this on Old Herbaceous and commented:
    And now for some inspiration from women garden designers who are English!

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