Book Review: Sarah Raven’s Cutting Flower Journal

Frances Lincoln Limited, publishers, approached me recently to review Sarah Raven’s latest book Sarah Raven’s Cutting Garden Journal, I was eager to see what it would be like and was pleased when it arrived.  The book is due to be published on 4 September 2014 so it is always a privilege to have a book before it is available.

Sarah Raven's Journal lr

Actually, this is not really a ‘new’ book, but a month-by-month journal format of Sarah’s first book “The Cutting Garden” which was originally published in 1996 and republished in June 2013.   Most of the text and the photographs are from the original book, however as I don’t own a copy of “The Cutting Garden” this didn’t bother me.  It does mean that I am not in the position to compare the two books, which is probably just as it should be.

There are 2-4 jotting pages for personal notes spread through each monthly section which, if you don’t have any objection to writing in a book, I can see could be quite useful.  Personally, I would find this difficult having been brought up when a child that you do not write in books!

Each month contains relevant monthly advice on planting, sowing, cultivation, cutting and creating arrangements, together with:

A monthly project – July has 3 pages dedicated to creating flower arrangements using yellow and red sunflowers, dahlias and dill.

Jobs for the month –  September  has advice on bulb care and planting along with with collecting and planting seeds and seedlings.

Flowers of the Month - December has information on Viburnum, Cornus and Hamamelis.

I particularly liked the size of this book, it is smaller than the original measuring 210 mm x 150 mm (as opposed to 255 mm x 255 mm) but is slightly thicker with 192 pages (168 pages in the original book).  It is a comfortable size to hold and read, sometimes I find the larger coffee table type book, whilst ok to browse, difficult to look through when looking for information.

Sarah Raven’s Cutting Garden Journal would make a great gift, especially if you are starting to collect Christmas presents!

As I said earlier, the publishing date is 4 September 2014 but you can pre-order now and the lovely people at Frances Lincoln are offering a discount to all my readers.

To order Sarah Raven’s Cutting Garden Journal at the discounted price of £11.99 including p&p* (RRP: £14.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG200. 

*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Look out for the next book review: “Of Cabbages and Kings – The History of Allotments” by Caroline Foley.

How We Dug for Victory: Notcutts Garden Centres

Recently, I was sent an “infographic” by the marketing guys for Notcutts Garden Centres and was asked if I would like to use it on my blog.   First of all I wanted to find out exactly what an infographic is.    Thank goodness for Google!   Infographic  is a graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.

I rather liked this infographic, designed by Kate Southgate from Crafted,  so decided to share it with  you, check out the recipes!

Victory Gardens

Early in WW1  Parliament passed a law that any untaxed land not being used f0r the production of food could be taken over by authorities and parcelled out as allotments.  In 1917, 2.5 million acres of land was taken over for farming and by 1918 there were around 1,500,000 allotment plots.  The Land Army started in 1915.  Towards the end of 1917 there were over 250,000 – 260,000 women working as farm labourers, with 20,000 in the land army itself.  The government wanted women to get more involved in the production of food and do their part to support the war effort.  This was the beginning of the Women’s Land Army.

Dig for Victory

Within one month of the outbreak of WW2, the “Dig for Victory” campaign was launched.  Gardens were transformed into mini-allotments.   By 1943 millions of tons of vegetables were being grown in gardens and allotments.  The government started the Women’s Land Army in June 1939.  The majority of the Land Girls already lived in the countryside but more than a third came from London and the industrial cities of the north of England.  In the Second World War, The Ministry of Agriculture and Fish asked for volunteers and was supplemented by conscription, so that by 1944 it had over 80,000 members.  The Women’s Land Army lasted until its official disbandment on 21 October 1949.

Victory Garden Infographic

My World War One Stories

The remembrance of World War 1 (1914-1918) has featured a lot in the last few months, not only in TV programs but social network media, blogs and a large variety of dedicated WW1 websites such as and  It has caused me to think about my relatives who fought in that war, so I have revisited the family trees I have been compiling on Ancestry.

My Grand Uncle : William Aloysius Taylor (1877-1915)

On my mother’s maternal side are the Taylor’s, a very large family from Liverpool, so this is where I started.

William Aloysius Taylor was born in 1877 to Thomas (Tom) Taylor and his second wife, Anne Gilbertson.  Tom had 3 wives, 2 predeceased him, and a total of 15 children – a good Catholic family!

William married Mary Gertrude Fox in 1910 and from the information I have I gathered they had at least two children, the last of which, Jane, was born in 1914.  It must have been hard for William and Mary at that time with a newborn, when he joined the 5th Battalion Prince of Wales Volunteer (South Lancashire) Regiment and went off to France.  I’m not an expert but assume that he was not conscripted as he joined a volunteer regiment as an officer.

On 11 May 1915 William died in hospital in Boulogne following injuries received at Ypres. His grave, which I found on the War Graves Commission website, is in the Eastern Cemetery Boulogne and the war graves index reads:

Taylor, William Aloysius (Capt) died 11 May 1915 from wounds received at Ypres on 8 May 1915


The Second Battle of Ypres

The Germans released a batch of chlorine gas on 24 April, directed against Canadian troops situated north-east of Ypres. They gained ground against the unprotected Canadian troops, and the fighting was fierce.  The German infantry sustained heavy losses from the defending Canadians, who were relieved by arriving British troops who arrived on 3 May.

Fighting renewed around Ypres on 8 May, the same day William received his wounds, and continued until 13 May.  Poor William, it would appear that he was only in France for 5 days before being wounded.

Thomas had two grandsons, Cyril Adderley Taylor and Oswald Acton Taylor from his son, James William Adderley, whose mother was Tom’s first wife. They were both officers in the Liverpool Regiment and they were lucky enough to survive.

My grandfather Claude Charles Riches (1900-1981)

I know quite a lot about my paternal grandfather Claude Charles Riches because my Dad is still alive and has photos of him during WW1.   Grandpa was born in 1900 but lied about his age when he joined up.  On 31 July 1914 he was 14 and the call to enlist was in August 1914, so I am not sure if he joined up then or a year later, but he must have told them he was 19, the legal age for signing up.   There were approximately 250,000 underage boys who lied about their ages.  The criteria was that they should be at least 5ft 3ins with a minimum chest measurement of 34 inches.  As recruitment officers were paid 2s/6d (about £6 in today’s money) and they often turned a blind eye to these young lads.


Grandpa joined the 5th Battalion London Rifle Brigade and went on a signallers course.  It was only because he did so exceptionally well on this course and they found out his age (although it didn’t stop them from sending him home) that it was decided not to send him to France.  Had he gone, it could be that we would not be here to tell this story.

My father gave me another photo of Grandpa with 1916 written on the back, he was 16, and you can see the crossed signallers flags on his left sleeve.  I don’t think he looks anything like 19 do you?


There is also a Leave on Duty ration book, dated 20/12/18 to 31/12/18 and I guess this meant he went home for Christmas.  The ration book has unused ration stamps, one for lard – LARD!! – and one for tea.

Grandpa survived both the First World War and Second World War – but that is another story.

Do you have any WW1 family stories?  Please share them here.

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