Although it is far too late for many ancient British wildflower meadows lost to modern agricultural methods, some do survive to remind us of their glorious biodiversity. Pioneering work has been done to re-establish some, but most of us have come to realise that turning our gardens into flowery meads is an impractical dream too far. So it’s quite refreshing to read ‘Wildflower Meadows – Survivors from A Golden Age’ by Margaret Pilkington, (Papadakis £25) which celebrates and explains the nature of our remaining wildflower meadows rather than exhorting me to dig up the lawn, discard the topsoil and persuade yellow rattle to establish itself. It is a book written by an expert (and beautifully photographed by her husband) that will be of practical use for landowners with vulnerable habitats they wish to understand and protect. For the rest of us it is a fascinating account of our ancient meadows, both past and present, to be read and enjoyed.
Twilight Garden by Lia Leendertz. I like the idea of a book that encourages us to appreciate our gardens in the evening. Admittedly the British weather doesn’t always cooperate but there are specific pleasures that will be missed during the day – white flowers become near luminescent, blues intensify and fragrance hangs heavy in the air. It’s like having a second garden. Lia suggests ways to use the your garden in the evening and gives an extensive glossary of all the plants that are night time performers.
Garden Designers at Home by Noel Kingsbury. Peek over the fence into some of our most respected designers own gardens and learn loads in the process. Large, small, quirky, formal, there’s something for everyone here. I loved the refreshing honesty of Lauren Springer when she says ‘We kill a lot of plants’ – it is this experimentation that means they know what to plant in their client’s gardens. Or Jacqueline van der Kloet’s work on sustainable bulb planting – ‘There should be at least six weeks when the foliage should not be shaded, good drainage is also important’. Brilliant stuff!
It’s that time of year when the postman’s knees are buckling under the weight of the newly-published gardening books that are making their way to my front door. Over the next few days I’ll introduce you to a few of my favourites that you might like to read starting with :
Home Ground: Sanctuary in the City by Dan Pearson. I don’t know whether he knew it when he was writing it, but this book has become a valedictory salute to his much-loved Peckham garden which he left recently for life in the country. It’s a season-by-season journey through the garden over the past 10 years and is packed with interesting anecdotes, useful gardening ideas and wonderful plants. Urban gardens can be tricky and this book is a great guide on how to overcome the problems – and an enjoyable read.