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.

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.