Book Reviews: The Joy of Gardening by Ellen Mary and Dear Friend and Gardener by Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto

Ellen Mary is a busy lady, she hosts a radio show, is one half of the Plant Based Podcast and is a influencer on instagram and twitter.  Ellen lives and breathes horticulture coupled with her keen interest in gardening for wellbeing.  Her new book 'the Joy of Gardening' masterly brings these two themes together.  I have not paid for the two books in this review and I have not been paid to write this review.  My words and opinions are my own.

For starters let me say this is a joy of a book.  It crammed full of information which is quite an achievement as it is not a huge tome, it is a veritable tardis of a book.  Ellen takes us through every aspect of gardening you can think of: starting with 'The Patient Approach to Gardening', Ellen says that when you move into a new house/have your first garden you should wait and get to know your garden.  That you need to learn how it changes through the day and over the year and also start to visualise what you might want to grow/develop where.  Whilst patience is not a virtue I claim to have, I do believe that the garden tells me what I should be doing: such as where the pond was sited was the dip in the garden that looked like it could become a pond.  

Ellen covers everything you might need to know: from soil types to planting the right plant in the right place.  Ellen talks about weeding and maintenance, companion planting and growing food and mowing the lawns.  So many books do this so what, I hear you ask, makes this book different?
Throughout the book Ellen is weaving mindfulness.  This is done effortlessly but carefully.  The language of the book is a bout 'finding new hope' and 'nurturing'.  There is a section on reflection and also about how to share your garden with others.  There is a very good section on wellbeing through the seasons which I particularly focussed on winter as I think for many people including myself that is when things can feel the hardest.  Ellen talks about what to focus on in the beauty of all the seasons and suggests activities we can do.

I must also praise the artwork in the book by Romy Palstra, it works perfectly and gives it extra charm.

and by the way Ellen, I still believe there are fairies at the bottom of my garden.

The Joy of Gardening is published by Hachette Book Group slip it into your shopping basket, you will not regret it.
Dear Friend and Gardener by Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto has been republished this the centenary year of Christopher's birth.  I first bought this book probably when it was first published in 1998, I loved it then and I love it now.  This new edition has a new introduction written by Fergus Garrett and is a year of letters between the two gardeners.  It is fair to say that when I bought my first copy they were gardening heroes of mine and they still are.

The letters talk about gardening and plants, they talk about where they have been and what they are doing, and they share themselves through their letters.  Whilst not a 'gardening book' as such, there is still a lot to learn from the knowledge they share.  What I like most about this book though is just the sheer joy of writing letters.  These are proper letters, not a quick email for work purposes or a text or two, this is two people who are writing considered glorious letters to each other.  This is an art that needs revival. 

Dear Friend and Gardener by Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto is published by Aurum.  Buy it - you will think you will dip into it from time to time but in reality one letter reads to another.  It is hard to put down.

Stay safe and be kind.

For more from the Blackberry Garden follow me on Twitter and Facebook