Book Review: Raised Bed Revolution by Tara Nolan

I usually enjoy writing a book review, but occasionally I am sent a book that leaves me totally uninspired.  This is not because it isn’t a good book, it is, if you are into DIY it will be just what you are looking for.    The Raised Bed Revolution by Tara Nolan is published by Cool Springs Press in 2016 with an imprint by Quarto Publishing Group Inc.  


Thinking it would be packed with information and ideas about growing things in raised beds, I quickly discovered it was far more of a build your own DIY guide and I was disappointed,  it was just not my sort of book.   However, if you are adept at wielding a saw, screwdriver and electric drill, you will find it a book to motivate you with great ideas into building your own raised beds.   It might be that you are the gardener and your partner is happy making things, or the other way around,  in which case the book would suit you both.   With detailed shopping lists of the items required to make a variety of beds, it comes with clear pictorial instructions. 

 Growing edibles or flowers in a raised bed has countless advantages, such as economy of space, water conservation, portability, and accessibility. Raised Bed Revolution offers complete reference information on how to get started, covering subjects such as growing-medium options, rooftop gardening, cost-effective gardening solutions, planting tips, watering strategies.


There are lots of interesting ideas, including a wooden potato growing box, recycling an old table into a lettuce box and a laddered herb planter, which I particularly liked, but I would have to find someone to make it for me.  There are informative pieces within the chapters on the do’s and dont’s of gardening with raised beds, but the Raised Bed Revolution still struck me as being predominantly a ‘How to Build your Raised Bed’ book.


Tara Nolan is a freelance writer and writes gardening articles in Toronta Star and Canadian Living magazine.   A few years ago, along with three members of the Garden Writers Association, Tara co-founded a gardening website at http://www.Savvygardening.com.  If you are a Facebook user you can find her on FB – Facebook.com/raisedbedrevolution. 

Book Review: The Crafted Garden

It is always exciting to get an email from Frances Lincoln Limited asking if I would be interested in reviewing a book due to be released. This time it was The Crafted Hour written by Louise Curley with photographs by Jason Ingram.

Louise Curley, also wrote The Cut Flower Patch, a book I reviewed in February 2014.


I like books with matt textured covers, which this one has.  It is a comfortable size also, measuring 24cms (9.5″) by 19cms (7.5″).  It is fully of stylish projects inspired by nature in a good font size with detailed and  interesting photographs.

This is a book not only fully of 50 craft ideas, with step-by-step instructions using flowers and twigs from your garden and the hedgerows, it also covers lots of other things such as key plants, themes, growing plants and saving seeds.   A useful full book not only for handicraft ideas.    It’s like following a recipe book with ingredients, detailed photos to follow so you know what you are making is supposed to look like whilst making it and a photo of the finished product. 

With Christmas coming up this book would make a very welcome present.

The Crafted Garden was published by Frances Lincoln Limited on 3 September 2015

READER’S OFFER

To order The Crafted Garden by Louise Curley at the discounted price of £13.99 including p&p* (RRP: £16.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG355.

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

Book Review : First Ladies of Gardening. 

Thank you Frances Lincoln Press for sending me The First Ladies in Gardening to review.  I am a little late with this post, the book was published on 5 March 2015.



The first thing that struck me was the fabulous photo of Himalayan blue poppies and purple aquilegia on the end papers.  I wanted to stop before I had even begun to take in the beautiful photograph by Marianne Majerus.  Just the first of many photos in the book.

On turning the pages I knew this was going to be a book to linger over and savour.  I only got as far as the first couple of pages before dwelling a while on the next photo, and make notes of ideas. 

The First Ladies of Gardening, written by Heidi Howcroft, explores the influential role of women garden designers on English gardens, particularly their own gardens.  The first garden is the glorious Upton Grey Manor in Hampshire, originally owned by Gertrude Jekyll and restored by Rosamund Wallinger. 

The book has two sections, chapters about “Pioneers of Design” with gardens such as Waterperry (Beatrix Havergal)  Sissinghurst (Vita Sackville-West) and Beth Chatto’s garden.  The second section is “New Directions” featuring newer and less well known gardeners including Sue Whittington’s London garden and Helen Dillon’s garden in Ireland. 

It is packed with informative details about the gardens, the history, how they are laid out and the specialities of each garden such as the vignettes at Kiftsgate Court, along with the famous ‘Kiftsgate’ rambling rose.  I particularly liked the list of signature plants at the end of each chapter.

I have been luck enough to have visited a number of the gardens but now have added a few more to my “must visit” list. 

This is not a small book by any means, definitely one for the coffee table to be browsed through at leisure.  Whilst you may not buy this for yourself, it would make a wonderful present for anyone who loves gardens.  In fact, it would even whet the appetite of those who have yet to discover the joy of beautiful and interesting gardens. 

The publishers Frances Lincoln have very kindly given me a reader’s offer,  to order First Ladies of Gardening at the discounted price of £16 including p&p* (RRP: £20), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG290. 

*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from oversea

Book Review: Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds’

The idea of a secret garden is fascinating, and to be given the privilege of actually viewing a secret garden is all the more exciting.  “Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds – a Personal Tour of 20 Private Gardens” opens the gate for us to sneak a look at gardens. Thank you Francis Lincoln Publishers for sending me this book to review which I have thoroughly enjoyed browsing and making a note of those I would like to visit.

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The author, Victoria Summerley, is a gardening journalist, and blogger, who moved to the Cotswolds in 2012 and lives in what William Morris called “the most beautiful village in England”.  Accompanied with photographs by Hugo Rittson-Thomas, who also is lucky enough to live in the Cotswolds, this coffee table book takes us on a visit of 20 privately owned homes with beautiful and interesting gardens, many of which are influenced by Rosemary Verey, Isabel and Julian Bannerman, Repton and Capability Brown.

We are given a history of the gardens and the designs and inspirations which has developed them through the years. Being particularly nosey, whilst in awe of the gardens rather than the fantastic houses they come with,  it is always of interest to see who owns them and each chapter also has a photo of one or both of the owners as well as, in some cases, the head gardeners.  For me it added an extra personal touch rather than just a book of photographs of gardens.

Disappointingly, only 14 of the 20 are open to the public, the other 6 remain a secret unless you have been lucky enough to see them in this book.   Those 14 are, however, only open at certain times of the year and mostly for the National Garden Scheme.  At the back of the book is a sketch map together with details of opening times, so you can plan your visit to the Cotswolds around those gardens you particularly want to see.

‘Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds’ is published on 5 February 2015 and would make a wonderful gift for anyone who not only has a love of, or desire to visit, the Cotswolds, coupled with a love of beautiful gardens.

To order ‘Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds’ at the discounted price of £16 including p&p* (RRP: £20) telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG281

*UK ONLY – please add £2.50 if ordering from abroad.

Francis Lincoln Publishers have a number of other lovely garden books just waiting to be published, including ‘Gardens of the Amalfi Coast‘ in February and ‘First Ladies of Gardening‘ in March.

Book review: Giftwrapped by Jane Means

If you are anything like me, you probably take a lot of time deciding what to buy someone as a gift, whether it be for birthday, Christmas or just to say thank you. However, do you spend as much time in selecting the wrapping? I know I don’t always do this and just use any spare paper I have in my draw at the time.

There is something almost breathtaking to receive a gift that is beautifully wrapped and this gift will give as much pleasure on the giver’s behalf to see the recipient’s response. Why not, therefore, go that extra step and spend a little time in turning your simple gift into a glorious gift? Even the most plain present can be transformed into a sensational gift when wrapped in interesting paper and tied with an intricate looking bow.

Jane Means is a professional giftwrapper and has a fabulous blog http://janemeansblog.com full of ideas to wrap even the most intricate shape, as well as a website http://www.janemeans.com which sells a myriad of ribbons, tissues and papers to name but a few items. Jane also runs courses across the country on giftwrapping. You can even buy course vouchers to give as gifts, and I bet if you look on the website you will find an interesting way to wrap the voucher!

Can’t afford a course, or find the time? Then all is not lost, Jane has written a book called ‘Giftwrapped’ which is due to be published by Jacqui Small LLP on 20 November 2014.

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There are no end of suggestions on how to wrap the oddest of shapes. One particular idea I love is for a magazine subscription. Choose your magazine, buy a current copy, roll it into a tube shape and wrap it up in a vintage scarf.

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The book provides detailed guides on wrapping, tying and great ideas for special occasions, accompanied with wonderful photographs.

At this part of a book review post I usually give away the book in a competition. Sometimes, I find it hard to part with a book I particularly like, and this is one occasion where I am going to disappoint you as I am going to keep this one for myself!

I thoroughly recommend Giftwrapped which is published on November 20th and retailing at £20.   The publishers are offering a special discount at £16 including P&P to the UK  . Telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG252.  Please add £2.50 if ordering from outside the UK.

RHS Companion to Scented Plants : Book Review & Give Away

There is nothing more evocative than a scent, it will remind us of people, places and events.   Our olfactory senses work overtime with recognised smells.  They can bring back a flood of memories, affect our mood and even help us relax and sleep.   Some of us can’t abide the perfume from lilies, chlorine from swimming pools but I think we would all agree that there is no point of a rose without a scent.

I believe that the majority of gardeners take scent and colour into the equation when choosing plants for our gardens. It is absolutely wonderful to walk into a garden in the evening to be met with heady aromas wafting in the air.   To help us select the ideal plants, be they trees, shrubs, perennials or roses, it is always helpful to have a book to refer to and give us ideas and planting information.

Frances Lincoln Publishers released the RHS Companion to Scented Plants on 16 October 2014. The author of this book is Stephen Lacey is a well known garden writer and the book is complimented with photographs by Andrew Lawson.

RHS Companion to Scented Plants lrThis is a large hardback book with 320 pages, measuring 250 x 190 mm.  The first chapters “Scent & the Gardener” and “The Nature of Scent” cover the basics of planting in sun and shade, the types of floral scent and even covers unpleasant odours, such as the flowering currant Ribes smelling like cat’s urine, which is always an issue I have with my Ribes.  At least I was sensible enough not to plant it anywhere near to my Jasmine!

I always like a gardening book that provides planning ideas and there is no disappointment here.  We are given four plans, all with interesting scented plants.

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Most of the chapters are set out in the form of a catalogue, broken down into trees, shrubs, bulbs, perennials and herbs to name but a few.

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The chapter on roses is detailed with beautiful photographs, and the roses are categorised into the type of rose, Gallica, Alba, Bourbon etc. with information about each type before listing what I think are probably the popular varieties with the strongest scents. I couldn’t find the two roses I have in my garden, Compassion and Peace which is sad because they have beautiful perfumes also.  I have learned that Buff Beauty is a Hybrid Musk and Charles de Mills is a Gallica rose and where they grow best and the size they are.

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I can do no better than quote Frances Lincoln Publishers who, quite rightly, describe the RHS Companion to Scented Plants as “An authoritative guide to creating beautiful, well designed gardens that are highly scented and shows how scent can turn a good-looking garden into an unforgettable one.”

Win a copy of this beautiful book by entering into the Book Give Away competition.  You can do this by leaving a comment to say you wish to be entered into the draw.   As usual this is open only to those with a UK address.

CLOSING DATE MIDNIGHT FRIDAY 24 OCTOBER 2014

I will announce the winner on Saturday 25 October 2014.  If you are unlucky in the draw or live abroad all is not lost, the lovely people at Frances Lincoln have a readers offer for you:

To order RHS Companion to Scented Plants at the discounted price of £20.00 including p&p* (RRP: £25.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG238. 
*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.