Book Review and Give Away – Of Rhubarb and Roses, The Telegraph Book of the Garden

The Aurum Publishing Group invited me a few weeks ago to review The Telegraph Book of the Garden “Of Rhubarb and Roses” and a copy arrived a few days later.

of rhubarb and roses

The Telegraph has published garden writers in their gardening column since the 1930’s, starting with H.H. Thomas, a horticulurist, Fred Whitsey, Roy Strong, Vita Sackville-West, Christopher Lloyd and Sarah Raven, to name but a few.

Of Rhubarb and Roses” is a collection of personal thoughts and advice written by experts and garden columnists, published in The Telegraph over the years, compiled by Tim Richardson, a regular columnist in the gardening pages of the Daily Telegraph.

After a brief thumb through, it took a while to pick up and read this book.  Initially I was dipping in an out and there didn’t appear to be any logic in the layout.   Also I didn’t recognise the names of a lot of the writers – Nb:  it is always a good idea to read the introduction first!   Here I found out who most of them were;  a short summary of all the writers would have been useful.  Then I looked at the contents page and realised the gardening articles had been separated into chapters.   To explain this further, Chapter 3 “The Dukes of Marlborough and Devonshire have been locked in annual combat over their white Muscat grapes” had a selection of writings about fruit.  Chapter 8 “These plants present an aspect so fantastic and so bizarre that one’s thoughts are carried away” was about plants and gardens in faraway places.

In a chapter about hedges and shrubs, you will find Vita Sackville-West’s piece called “My Roses thrive on a touch of neglect” dated 10 December 1961 followed by Anne Wareham’s thoughts on “Grasses –  how I got with the programme” dated 1 September 2012.  Personally I would have liked all the articles to be in date order, this particular chapter jumped from 1973, to 1961, 2012 and back to 1966.

However, once I got to grips with the book, I found this anthology of gardening articles absolutely fascinating.   They are both informative and amusing.   I chuckled at Fred Whitsey’s thoughts, written June 1981, called “Bluffer’s guide to showing off your garden”.  Here he says:

“No longer do you have to apologise for the weeds.  You airily say “We’re leaving these nettles for the bees”.

“You must  be sure of using the word “project” as often as you can.  Gardens are always in the making,  They are never made”.  – what sound advice!!

Mark Diacoco from Otters Farm has interesting advice on vegetable planting called “Let your palate do the planting”.  This was published in 10 March 2012, and is sandwiched between advice from Beth Chatto dated 6 April 1991 and Fred Downham, about peas, dated 15 July 1989.

This book would make a great Christmas present for any garden lover and they would be sure to be entertained by its varied and interesting contents.

COMPETITION – Win a copy of “Of Rhubarb and Roses The Telegraph Book of the Garden“: 

Please leave a comment on this post and let me know if you would like to be included in the competition which closes midnight on Friday 25 October 2013.   All names will go into a hat and I will draw a lucky winner who will be notified by email, so please make sure you leave an email address.  This giveaway is only open to UK addresses.

Thank you Jessica at The Aurum Publishing Group for asking me to review another Aurum Press book.

17 thoughts on “Book Review and Give Away – Of Rhubarb and Roses, The Telegraph Book of the Garden

  1. Great review – definitely want to read this book now. Love the cover – my dad used to have a lawn mower like that when I was a kid but we never quite got the same stripey lawn! And the cat is a dead ringer for one of mine. Hope there is still room in your hat.


  2. I wish I could achieve that clean, crisp Brian Cook-esque picture of a garden whilst lying asleep on a bench! Garden benches are notoriously uncomfortable (and too short) to sleep on anyway, even if there was time to have a nap.
    And how charmingly self-deprecating of the Telegraph to have pictured the paper lying unread next to the veg in the barrow…
    That said, your review further whetted my appetite for this book: thanks very much.
    If you could pop my name into your doubtless lovely chapeau, I’d be ever so grateful…


  3. I love the front cover… It reminds me of images from books from the forties. When I was little, and long before I was able to read, I used to content myself with looking at pictures, and creating fanciful stories.
    I am looking forward to reading from this on dark cold nights while awaiting Spring Time again….

    Please can I be entered into the competition?


  4. I’ve reviewed this too and am pottering around seeing what others think. (Yours is the first I’ve found so far but I expect there will be more.) I found navigation difficult too but the bluffer’s guide was also one of my favourites – that and Germaine Greer’s about snails. I think I like it better than you. Indeed, I was charmed. I think the editing has been done in a way that means reading from the beginning and working through is better than dipping – and that, for me, was one of the surprises.


    1. Hi there! I did indeed find it a fascinating read once I got over the hurdle of working out the layout. Yes, it is interesting to see what others had to say. I could only find one other…The Garden Smallholder.


  5. An informative review, thank you. It’s probably not a book I’d buy for myself but I’d certainly pick it up and have a read if I found it somewhere or was given a copy (or won a copy !). I’d like to be included in the competition, please.


  6. It sounds like a lovely book to dip into. I always find it interesting to read a range of views and comments spanning many years of gardening and I’d love to be included in your competition please.


Comments are closed.