Book review: Gardens under big skies, A year unfolding and Beth Chatto's Green Tapestry Revisited

I have a collated some books that I wanted to review that would make great Christmas presents to add to your lists, buy for others or indeed, gift to yourself.   I have bought one of these books and two were sent for me to review, I shall make it clear which is which.

First up:  Gardens under big skies by Noel Kingsbury and Maayke de Ridde.  Gosh, what a book!  This has to be on the 'you need this book' list.  I have not paid for this book and I have not been paid to write this review.  My words and opinions are as always my own.  My opinion is: you need this book.  I confess I knew very little about The Netherlands and gardening (generally and specifically) but it sounded very interesting.  This is an understatement, this is more than just a book about gardens, it told me so much about The Netherlands itself. 

Noel takes us through the geography and the history of the Dutch landscapes.  Superficially you can think of The Netherlands as flat and indeed Noel confirms this, but this is not totally accurate.  Whilst much of the country is below see level there are rocks and hills.  The chapters are in themes inspired by natural landscapes, cultural and landscape designers.  The designers' work profiled in each chapter is diverse and fascinating.  I loved reading about the different approaches and the photographs by Maayke de Ridde makes the book come to life.  They are exceptional photographs and makes this book complete.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough, you might think it has no relevance to your gardening if you do not live in The Netherlands but I found the combination of recognition of a similar climate with a different approach to gardening totally inspiring.  It is probably not a huge surprise that the foreward is by Piet Oudolph, it is a seal of approval that the book deserves.

Gardens under big skies by Noel Kingsbury and Maayke de Ridde is published by Filbert Books and is priced at £40, but you can find it on large internet based bookshops for less.

I have been a fan of Angela Harding's work for quite a while and when I saw that this book was going to be published I immediately pre-ordered it.  I have bought this book and I am under no obligation to say anything about it, it is just so beautiful I could not keep it to myself.

The book is subtitled 'The printmakers view' and Angela explains that her illustrations are her response to nature and what she sees around her.  The book takes a calendar approach walking us through the seasons with Angela's prints.  The prints are so beautiful and accompanied by narrative paragraphs that give us the back story.  I love this book, it is one to flip through, it is one to sit and read.

A Year Unfolding by Angela Harding is printed by Hachette and is priced at £20, but you can find it for less on large internet book sites.

I was sent this book to review, I have not paid for it and my words and opinions are as ever my own.  The heart of this book was first published in 1989 and I probably bought my original copy then.  It is one of those books that everyone interested in creating a garden should have on their shelf, no not on their shelf, in their hand.  Beth is sadly no longer with us but this does not mean her work is no longer relevant.  Beth talks us through her approach, inspirations and principles and her granddaughter, Julia Boulton adds new material bringing this work into the now.  Julia shows us how these principles have matured and how the different areas of the garden have developed.   It is illustrated throughout by Steven Wooster, who we are told was Beth's preferred photographer.  These new photographs show the gardens how they are today and as we are taken through the different parts of the garden we can see the living legacy of Beth.  It is a great book because it is the embodiment of how gardens develop and evolve.  Beth's garden continues to change and progress.  Julia ensures that the garden is in line with Beth's principles and remains one that the spirit of Beth would hopefully recognise, but it is not a museum of a garden, it is continuing to change which is just what any gardener would want.  How many of us never let anything change and refuse to see new opportunities as we garden.

Before I read this book I suspected it would just be a bit of a rebrand and re-sell and I was pleased that it is so much more than this.  I really hope that this book helps bring Beth's work to a new audience and confirms her garden as one of the most important gardens in the UK.

Beth Chatto's Green Tapestry Revisited is published by Pimpernel Press and retails at £30, but, you've guessed it, it can be found for less.

Stay safe and be kind

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