Book Review: Island Gardens, havens of beauty around the British Isles by Jackie Bennett

I was very pleased to receive this new book from Jackie Bennett that features some of the many gardens on the many islands that surround our shores.  Not every island can be covered as there are so many, they vary in size and population so this book is a snapshot of featured gardens.  I have to make a full disclaimer as I have not paid for this book, but as ever my words and opinions are my own.
The book is structured by island and takes us on a fascinating tour of gardens, some of which are well known and others that are not so.  We start on the Isles of Scilly then go northerly to the South Western Isles of Scotland and stop at other points around the larger British Isles. I have only visited one of the gardens listed, which is Plas Cadnant on Anglesey, but I should add the words 'so far' after that.  The combination of Jackie's descriptions and Richard Hanson's photographs have made me determined I need to visit more of the gardens featured.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I have long wanted to visit Sark; similarly I want to visit Tresco on the Isles of Scilly; I need to stop saying I need to to go and actually do it.  After reading this book I now have many other islands to add to my list.

The book reminds us that there are many islands and many gardens to see.  It's important to bear in mind that island gardening can be quite challenging, the conditions and climates are often not what might be seen as ideal. These gardens show that any climate is ideal if you create the right environment and use the right plants.

Each island section has descriptions of the gardens and of specific plants that are a particular feature.  So on Herm there is a profile of the wild leek, at Plas Cadnant it is the Himalayan Lily.  The latter I recently saw at another garden and was not sure exactly what it was.  Now I have it added to my ever-added-to list to find for my garden.  This book is more than a travelogue, it has inspired me to think differently about parts of my garden and broadened my knowledge of what plant can be used where.  It is not a how-to book in any sense, but it does inform and inspire.

This book is informative, well-written and beautifully illustrated by the many photographs; so even if I do not manage to visit these gardens, I feel I have already enjoyed an aspect of them. In my head though I plan my visits and wonder how many I can get to.  Some of the islands are more easy to reach than others, but that just makes the joy of imaginary trip planning even more fun.

I am just going to start saving for my own helicopter.......

Island Gardens is published by White Lion Publishing and retails at around £25