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.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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.