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 firstname.lastname@example.org and quote the offer code APG290.