6 inspiring books for garden lovers

PUBLISHED: 11:14 05 April 2016 | UPDATED: 11:14 05 April 2016

As summer beckons it’s time settle down in the sun with a good book - from fun gardening tips to how to build a den, we pick 8 garden reads perfect for gardeners and outdoor-types

As summer beckons it’s time settle down in the sun with a good book - from fun gardening tips to how to build a den, we pick 8 garden reads perfect for gardeners and outdoor-types


As summer beckons it’s time settle down in the sun with a good book - from fun gardening tips to how to build a den, we pick 8 garden reads perfect for gardeners and outdoor-types

Grow your own cakeGrow your own cake

1. Grow Your Own Cake

by Holly Farrell

“I like cake and I like gardening,” laughs Holly Farrell. On that basis this book is a perfect marriage and it could be said that Holly has found the ultimate reason to garden. She trained at the RHS Gardens Wisley in Surrey before taking a job in our neighbour county of Dorset at a chilli farm. “My father was a good cook and I started baking at around the same time as I trained in horticulture.” The book includes a guide to gardening and baking before launching into seasonal growing tips and associated recipes. For example, Holly advises on the best variety of rhubarb, how to plant, maintain and harvest it, followed by how to bake the most divine looking rhubarb crumble and custard cake. “I have a courtyard garden,” says Holly. “And I can still get crops from containers,” Berries, soft fruits, and vegetables feature along with luscious photography.

Published by Frances Lincoln. Hardback £16.99

Herbs bookHerbs book

2. The Herb Companion

Edited by Alison Candlin

This is such a useful book to keep in the kitchen and brings gardening to absolutely everyone. It covers 50 herbs, with illustrations, outlining the history/origin of each plant and the parts used, such as leaves, flowers or roots. Potential benefits are listed, like the calming effects of lavender as well as culinary tips. What’s so positive is that anyone can grow a selection of herbs even if it’s only pots of basil, parsley and chives picked up in the supermarket and then kept on the kitchen window sill. On a small scale there’s still the satisfaction of adding the leaves to salads, dressings, sauces or teas. Or, savouring your own pesto made from basil, olive oil, pine nuts and grated parmesan cheese. With outside space a well-stocked herb garden is an even bigger joy and who can resist the aroma of chicken roasting with rosemary and garlic...

Published by Apple Press. Hardback £9.99

the children's gardenthe children's garden

3. The Children’s Garden

by Matthew Appleby

“The trick is to get your children unplugged. Develop incentives to get them outside and finish with a selfie, like everyone piled in a wheelbarrow, for Facebook!” Using his experience as a garden writer and dad to two boys age four and six Matthew says: “We’ve been going to our allotment ever since they were babies, but I can see that parents find keeping up with formal gardening intimidating, particularly trying to incorporate play.” Matthews’ book offers 52 projects from making a sound and water wall on an old pallet to marking out a hopscotch frame on the lawn. You use Grass Graffiti - a chalk spray that washes away in the rain. Then there’s making a Dalek compost bin and planting scented flowers in a handbag. Every home should have this handbook of ideas. Based in South London, Matthews enjoys holidays at his in-laws’ caravan in East Devon.

Published by Frances Lincoln. Hardback £14.99

Den bookDen book

4. The Den Book

by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks

Talking to Jo Schofield about her latest book was a trip down memory - like making a palace in the garden by throwing a pink blanket over the washing line. Or snipping off a couple of mum’s roses and making petal perfume in a jam jar. As Jo says, “ In 2016 many children are not connected to the natural world in a country where most houses have a garden.” With her co-writer Fiona Danks, Jo is an advocate of the value of playing outdoors. “Being in a tree house is like being in your very own separate world, held in the arms of a giant. It fires imaginative play where adults have to be asked in.” The Den Book is packed with creative options like how to covert a trampoline into a space ship and furnish a hedge hidey hole. Jo studied psychology at Exeter University and now writes extensively on play.

Published by Frances Lincoln. Paperback £12.99

Garden design solutionsGarden design solutions

5. Garden Design Solutions

by Stephen Woodhams

This is an incredibly comprehensive guide to garden design. At first glance a lot of the photos suggest warmer climes and the author Stephen Woodhams has had a worldwide career. The Press Release even finishes with a tribute from Jeffery Archer for the design of his garden in Majorca. However, case studies include the traditional lawn and borders, low maintenance and container planting. The book really does cover all aspects and it’s the sowing of ideas and potentials that will surely spark the next practical step to a fully fledged project. There are sections on lighting, furniture and getting started by creating a mood board. Stephen also lists his top 10 shrubs, seasonal plats, herbaceous, scented and architectural plants. Really helpful and I’d wholeheartedly recommend this book. As does Alan Titchmarsh on the cover.

Published by Jacqui Small. Hardback £25

First ladiesFirst ladies

6. First Ladies of Gardening. Pioneers, Designers and Dreamers

By Heidi Howcroft

True, re-creating some of these fabulous gardens is a tad ambitious but as gardening books go, packed with quality pictures, it’s one of my favourites. I see it as akin to a couture catwalk show. Most of are unlikely to ever wear the top designer clothes but via the high street we can still enjoy the colours and styles. So it is with these great, green-fingered ladies. For example, the basic idea behind Vita Sackville-West’s enigmatic White Garden at Sissinghurst could be replicated on a smaller scale and be equally scented and special. Gertrude Jekyll features along with Beth Chatto and Rachel James at Eastington Farm on the Jurassic Coast. And what makes the narrative so interesting is the background to the garden stories and inclusion of historical and personal detail. Each of the 14 sections ends with Guiding Principles and Signature Plants.

Published Frances Lincoln. Hardback £20

The Magical Garden of MonetThe Magical Garden of Monet

7. The Magical Garden of Claude Monet

by Laurence Anholt

Writer and illustrator Laurence Anholt lives in East Devon. Together with his wife Catherine he’s created more than 200 books which have sold millions of copies around the world. The Magical Garden of Claude Monet is one of a series designed to introduce children to art, Laurence weaves a story that shows a garden is more than just the land around a house. It’s a place of colours and shapes and creativity. In a dream location, overlooking meadows and the sea, Laurence talked to me about the importance of showing little ones all sorts of gardens, to inspire and encourage learning on many levels. “Wandering along a path in Monet’s garden at Giverny, you appreciate the balance between wildness and order. Perhaps that is true of the creative mind, which flourishes between spontaneity and structure.” Who knows what or who could develop from the back lawn and borders....maybe the next Monet?

Note: Royal Academy of Arts Exhibition on in London until April 20th.

Gardens of the Italian lakesGardens of the Italian lakes

Using the work of Monet as a starting point, this landmark exhibition examines the role gardens played in the evolution of art from the early 1860s through to the 1920s.

Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. Paperback £6.99

8. Gardens of the Italian Lakes

by Steven Desmond

The areas around Lakes Como and Maggiore are a favourite destination for garden lovers. So, I felt this book is in essence a grown-up take on Laurence Anholt’s Monet garden. And for those who travel from a chair in the garden, via turning pages and dreaming, this book is perfect. The photography is stunning. It’s the ideal accompaniment for a freshly brewed coffee or glass of red wine. Just looking at pictures of the Villa Del Balbianello are enough to make the reader want to start growing wisteria. Even without the backdrop of Lake Como the soft purple flowers are exquisite. Lake Maggiore has more the character of an inland sea with ferries crossing to islands for an afternoon in another world. And that really sums up gardens and gardening, Time out, grounding, patience, the satisfaction of creating and a window to spirituality however defined by each one of us.

Published by Frances Lincoln. Hardback £35

Latest from the Devon Life