Book Review: Shade by Susanna Grant and Cut Flowers by Celestina Robertson

I was very kindly sent these books to review.  They were both titles I was interested in and so happily said I would receive them.

I have not paid for these books nor have I been paid to write this review, my words and opinions are as ever my own.

Shade by Susanna Grant

Planting in shade must be one of the most difficult areas in our gardens.  Most of us have shady patches, under trees, in the lee of a wall and so on.  This new book from Susanna Grant is, I think with little hesitation, one of the best books I have ever read on the subject.  For starters you have to love a book that in the introduction it says "I blame Beth Chatto."  This is great line to draw you in and actually I had a very similar experience to Susanna as it was at Beth Chatto's nursery many years ago I first saw how many plants to grow in shade there were in her shade planting section.  The choice was quite astounding and opened up all sorts of possibilities for me and clearly for Susanna too.  Susanna has a 'shady plant' shop and design consultancy called Linda.

Susanna starts us off by going through the basics starting with learning to understand shade and 'embrace the shadows'.  After the scorching hot few days we have recently had the notion of creating more shade in our gardens sounds very good advice.  Susanna tells us that shade helps when there are drought situations and is very good for wildlife and for us too.  Susanna moves on to talk about different soil types and all the stuff we need to know in general to garden well.  Then Susanna gets into the meat of her topic.  How to work with the shade-areas that we have.  About walls, shades from trees/plants; how to garden that north facing front garden that is the other side of the south facing back garden and so on.

Of course this all about having the right plant in the right space and Susanna has a comprehensive guide to shade-loving plants in her book including many I would never had thought of if left to my own devices.

When I got to the section on roses I had that ooh moment, you know that ooh moment when an idea suddenly goes ping in your brain...... watch this space as they say.....

I loved this book, it is easy to read and packed full of very useful information and inspiration.  

Shade by Susanna Grant is a Bloom Gardeners Guide published by Frances Lincoln

Cut Flowers by Celestina Robertson

This new book on growing cut flowers makes an excellent companion for the one above.  They sit neatly together as they follow the same format.

It is also another excellent book.  I think lots of people are now interested in growing their own cut flowers either for their own spaces or to share/create a business and this is a good guide to set you on the right growing path.

Celestina starts by talking about why we should grow our own flowers and talks through issues around sustainability and reducing carbon footprint and about working conditions/people and profits.  Not all is pretty in the world of flower growing.....

What I like about this book is that Celestina does not take anything for granted.  She explains to us what makes a good cut flower and I found this section really interesting and useful.  There is much more too growing cut flowers than I had previously thought about.

Then we go into discussion about what to grow to 'structure' a bouquet: the flowers, the fillers/textures etc.  The bits, quite frankly, evade me as my idea of flowers in a vase is cut a few and plonk them in.  I did have to learn though when growing flowers for my daughter's wedding a few years ago that there was more to a bouquet than this.  Celestina talks us through all of this.

I got very excited about the discussion on growing flowers for dried designs.  This is an interesting area and certainly makes good long lasting displays. 

Celestina tells us everything we might need to know about growing cut flowers: how to prepare the growing areas, what to grow and when.  There are some excellent plants recommended and full details on how to get the best from them.

Finally Celestina talks to us about how to arrange our cut flowers: giving us practical advice and inspirational suggestions.

I really loved this book, it is a really good comprehensive guide.  I can absolutely recommend it.

Cut Flowers by Celestina Robertson is a Bloom Gardeners Guide published by Frances Lincoln

You might as well buy both of these books, they look great together on a shelf.....  I had a quick google to see if there were any more and there is a very exciting one going to published soon.  Watch this space  (as they say).

Take care and be kind.

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