Book Review: Husbandry by Isabel Bannerman and Grasping the Nettle by Tamsin Westhorpe

When I was asked if I wanted to review the new book by Isabel Bannerman 'Husbandry Making Gardens with Mr B' I was immediately intrigued.  I know of the work of Isabel and Julian Bannerman; I have been lucky to visit a couple of gardens where they have worked and have also previously reviewed the book on their work 'Landscape of Dreams'.  This book though is something different.

I have not paid for this book nor have I been paid to write this review.  My words and opinions remain my own.

This book starts with a discussion about measuring in relation to  t*ts and flies; neither of which are wildlife.  After that the book is really hard to put down.  That is a bit of a glib way into this book as it is written so beautifully with an undercurrent of a wonderfully dry sense of humour.  There is a lyricism to Isabel's writing that makes it feel like you are reading stream of consciousness yet you know every word and phrase is beautifully crafted.

This is the story of their new garden, the garden of Ashington Manor where they moved to in 2019.  This is also the story of how they create their gardens for themselves together.  It is also a very personal book, with themselves and their family as central figures.  How I loved the nomenclature of their children as  'Historical Child, Logical Child and Emotional Child.  It made me pause and wonder how myself and my three brothers would be named.  I like that Julian Bannerman is Mr B throughout.  I like that plants are not particularly described, this is a book for people who know what the plants are.  The plant knowledge is clear and had me internet searching a few times to see what the plant was.  I also like those nuggets of knowledge that make you go 'oh its not just me!'.  The small discussion on the rose 'Gloire De Djion', that I am now on my second plant of and whilst better than the first plant is still a disappointment, makes me realise that this plant is not always good and reliable.  I loved the tiny reference to having a 'Gormenghast kitchen'; I could see exactly in my mind what that meant and it made me want to reach for my copy of Gormenghast again.  What I really really like though, and maybe this is the nerdy side of me, is the fantastic index at the end of the book.  This is real attention to detail and I hesitate to suggest not usual in a book of this nature.  

I really enjoyed readying this book, it feels like the real story of a garden and a relationship.  It would make a wonderful gift for the gardening person in your life or just buy it for yourself.  It feels a little like a hidden gem that might get overlooked as it is not a big or a flashy book, but treat yourself, you will not regret it.

Husbandry by Isabel Bannerman is published by Pimpernel Press

Grasping the Nettle: tales from a modern country gardener by Tamsin Westhorpe

I was delighted to be asked to review the new book from Tamsin Westhorpe.  I reviewed her first book 'Diary of a Modern Country Gardener' and enjoyed it hugely.  It has a humour and realistic take on gardening that I liked.  Tamsin's new book, Grasping the Nettle, is the story of Tamsin becoming the gardener she is today and the various routes she has taken to get there.  It is a lovely book, very easy to read full of fascinating anecdotes.  Now this is where I say I have met Tamsin and am on 'nodding acquaintance' as they say.  I knew very little about her life, though I was aware of her gardening accident from a year or so ago which is mentioned in the book.  Even this I did not know full details of and yet I think of her whenever climbing a ladder in my garden as it is a cautionary tale for those of use who often are gardening alone.

This is a great book for anyone who is interested in gardening and a life of gardening.  Tamsin is currently Head Gardener at her Uncles' garden Stockton Bury Garden, and there is so much more to her gardening life as well as this which has taken her on many adventures and journeys.  This is a good fireside book, as the nights draw in and we shut the curtains from the dark and cold, this is a book to pick up and while away some hours.  I can happily recommend it.

Grasping the Nettle by Tamsin Westhorpe is published by Orphans Publishing

Take care and be kind.

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  1. Thanks for the book reviews. Good ideas for holiday gifts (and books for myself ;-) ).I'll check them out.


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