Book Review: Foggy Bottom, a garden to share by Adrian Bloom

Foggy Bottom is one of those gardens on my 'must visit' list.  It has been on the list for a while and so when I met Adrian Bloom at the Garden Press Event earlier this year I was immediately keen to read the book.  I have been thinking I need to plan a visit to Norfolk and this book is helping push me several more steps closer into actually doing it.  

I have not paid for this book and I have not been paid to write this review.  My words and opinions are my own.

This is the story of the six acres that makes up Foggy Bottom, it is Adrian's story of how he created the garden and the story of his family.   Adrian's father Alan was a reknowned horitculturalist who set up Bressingham Gardens and a model steam railway.  Alan is particulalry remembered for his use of 'island beds' which were very fashionable when I was growing up.  Adrian did not immediately join the family business until after a couple of years travelling overseas he returned in 1962 to join Blooms Nurseries Ltd.  Foggy Bottom began as an acre of land where Adrian was to build the home for his late wife Rosemary and their family.  This book takes us through the development of the garden, using a fraction of the many photographs Adrian tells us he constantly takes of the garden.

The photographs show us the now and often the before.  We are taken firstly on a tour of the garden with a helpful map,  photographs and narrative.  The book is written in a conversational style, Adrian is talking to us as he leads us around his garden.  As we are taken around the garden you get to understand the thinking of the design process.  A good example is where Adrian tells us that Crossways Corner has planting that is designed not to be too tall to see over.  You can see it as foreground and look across it to other areas of the garden.  This is the sort of detail that you might appreciate as you are visiting the garden and not immediately recognise that this is design, not a happy chance.

Trees are a key part of Foggy Bottom, from Adrian's Wood with its huge redwoods, to the many conifers used to great impact throughout the gardens.  Conifers have their lovers and haters, they too were very fashionable back when I was growing up.   The ones I have are much loved and important statement plants.

Look at this incredible planting of Picea pungens 'Globosa' with hostas.  This is a masterclass in planting.  Thus Adrian takes us around his garden, enjoying the plants and plant combinations.  Adrian talks us through how to shape these plants and use them to their best effect.

The last section of the book is the story of the garden over the years: there are the delightful 1970s almost technicolour photographs of what was and what they became.  Adrian talks here of his late wife and their three sons and their roles and impact on the garden.  It is not only Adrian's garden, it is a sum of all their parts in its development.

This is not a book to be considered a coffee table book showing us lovely plants, this is Adrian's approach to gardening.  I found this book unputdownable when I started reading it.  It contains so much of Adrian's knowledge that is generously shared with us.

Now I know I have to visit Foggy Bottom, I have no good excuse not to go so I think an easterly trip is on the cards.

Foggy Bottom: A Garden to Share by Adrian Bloom is published by Foggy Bottom Books and can be bought from the Foggy Bottom online shop.  If you buy from their website you will receive a book signed by Adrian.  

Take care and be kind.

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