, , ,

As we move through November most of us begin to think about Christmas gifts for loved ones. As Mother Dorris has her birthday at the end of November, all talk of Christmas in my family is not allowed until after that date. Secretly we are beginning to think about what to give and for many of us a good book is one of the best gifts to receive ( surely only beaten by champagne or good jewellery).

My six on Saturday is a list of my favourite garden books that I recommend.

1. A beautiful book by Sarah Raven

Made even better by the addition of stunning photographs by Jonathan Buckley. It is helpfully divided into eight types eg Chalk Down & Limestone Dale or Water & Wetlands. The narrative is factual and clear and includes Ravens personal view of the colour or form the plant takes, which adds to the appreciation of each little flower or leaf.

There are glossaries for family or species names, botanical terms and helpfully there is index by petal colour, common name, Latin name or Family name. This is my go to book for any wildflower I see and do not recognise. Certainly not a pocket book but a fabulous reference book adorned with exquisite images. I received this as a gift and absolutely love it.

2. This next book was a gift in 2000 and introduced me to the glorious planting of Piet Oudolf. Written in collaboration with Noel Kingsbury ‘Designing with Plants’

I love how plants are divided into Form, think buttons and globes, plumes, umbels, daisies, screens and curtains.

Colour is split into hot, cool, sweet, sombre and earthy.

Chapters deal with designing schemes, moods and year -round planting ( birth, life, death).

This book perhaps has been the most influential in my planting taste.

3. Another strong influence on me has been by the relatively local garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith. His own garden is open for the National Garden Scheme, usually in June and I have visited numerous times over the years.

This book, simply entitled The Barn Garden is a record of his own personal garden. His tall planting is glorious and he is of course a world renowned designer having completed beautiful gardens around the UK and beyond. This book is full of dreamy planting schemes throughout the year. A real documentary of how he and his wife Sue created their stunningly beautiful garden.

4. The late Sir Christopher Lloyd was a prolific garden writer and his personal style of written word remains a delight. Great Dixter is my personal all time favourite garden, now under the brilliant hands of Fergus Garrett. This next book is a snapshot of the garden in the year 1999. Month by month his writings are set out in sub chapters such as February: Combining colour, ordering seed, the February Workload, consistently Good Performers, Garden Worries.

The years may have passed but the issues he debates and discusses are still pertinent to the garden and gardener today.

It is worth adding here that the other must-have Christopher Lloyd book is his gardening classic The Well-Tempered Garden. I would not be without either. Sorry that’s probably cheating the S on S rules.

5. A paperback next, Beth Chatto’s Garden Notebook by the late Beth Chatto.

This is written by possibly the greatest plantswoman. Beth was an author, multi times winner at Chelsea Flower Show and creator of a wonderful garden near Colchester, a must see garden. It was Beth who gave us “The right plant, in the right place”.

An old fashioned book, no photographs, just black and white sketches drawn by Beth to accompany her garden year, month by month. I refer to this regularly and Instagram readers can follow this online thanks to her staff who link to this book each month. @bethchattogardens

6. I haven’t got room to include favourites by Monty Don (The Ivington Diaries) Dan Pearson (Home Ground: Sanctuary in the City). Instead, for design reference, I have to include John Brookes’ Garden Design Book.

First published in 1991 this is good clear design advice, accompanied by somewhat dated looking photographs and drawings. No matter its date, this book is a most excellent reference book for anyone starting out in garden design.

That’s it, my Six on Saturday, joining The Propagator. Do let me know your favourites so I can add to my wish list.

Thanks for reading. Have a good weekend wherever you are. D.






For those who need details to order any of these books, here are the IBSN numbers

1. IBSN 978 1 4088 1394 2

2. IBSN 1 84091 055 0

3. IBSN 978-0-9568640-0-0 All profits from the sale of this book go to two charities: http://www.gardenmuseum.org.uk and http://www.newways.org.uk

4. IBSN 9781845951078

Well Tempered IBSN 1 841 882224

5. IBSN 978-0-7528-1644-9

6. IBSN 0-86318-638-6

Plus Monty IBSN 978 1 4088 0249 6

And Dan IBSN 978 1 84091 537 2