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.