Berkshire Life - - GARDENING NEWS -

Spring feels a long way away, but in gar­den­ing terms it is just around the cor­ner, so now is the ideal time to plan a colour­ful dis­play. I love to have lots of con­tain­ers of bulbs but taller va­ri­eties may top­ple over or just take up too much space, so clus­ter to­gether a se­lec­tion of smaller, more com­pact va­ri­eties in pots or com­bine them with other sea­sonal in­ter­est.

Dwarf Nar­cis­sus Tête-à-tête is ubiq­ui­tous for good rea­son – it’s bright, florif­er­ous and re­li­able, but there are lots of oth­ers to choose from. Sun Disc, Baby Boomer and Haw­era are all scented yel­low va­ri­eties, while Elke has pretty white trum­pets.

The names of Min­now and Pipit at­test to their small size and they have a pretty but­ter-and-eggs qual­ity, while for some­thing a bit bonkers, try Nar­cis­sus Rip Van Win­kle, which has spiky petals.

Good on­line sup­pli­ers in­clude cro­cus.co.uk; pe­ternyssen.com; farmer­gracy.co.uk and de­jager.co.uk


This book is a poem to the so­ci­ety we live in. One where the grue­some is com­mon­place and the ques­tion­able be­comes con­ven­tional, yet at the same time a place where great changes are tak­ing place, new voices are be­ing heard and new ideas are gain­ing trac­tion.

In large part a mem­oir, gar­den de­signer Cleve West de­scribes how he has em­braced his in­ner ac­tivist, and rather boldly re­veals both his hu­man­ity and his me­an­der­ing route to en­light­en­ment. From the child who went fish­ing to the de­signer build­ing gar­dens for heal­ing and to raise aware­ness of en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, his jour­ney of dis­cov­ery awak­ened a burn­ing pas­sion to make the world a bet­ter and kinder place – and to carry on gar­den­ing in the right way.

Along­side gen­tle, funny anec­dotes are dis­cus­sions about health, nu­tri­tion, Ex­tinc­tion Re­bel­lion and peat al­ter­na­tives, and much more be­sides. No­table quotes add con­text, pro­vid­ing an ad­di­tional win­dow into Cleve’s phi­los­o­phy. He is also famed for his onion bha­jis and, on re­flec­tion, the recipe sec­tion should not be sur­pris­ing.

If fear of be­ing con­fronted with the un­com­pro­mis­ing bru­tal­i­ties of in­ten­sive farm­ing leaves you feel­ing a bit cau­tious about open­ing this book, be brave. The re­al­i­ties are in­deed dis­turb­ing, but the in­for­ma­tion is valu­able and the style is gen­tle and unas­sum­ing, leav­ing the reader il­lu­mi­nated, in­formed and thought­ful.

The Gar­den of Ve­gan, How Plants

Can Save the An­i­mals, the Planet and Our Health by Cleve West, £20, Pim­per­nel Press

Naomi Slade’s Rip Van Win­kle grow­ing in the spring

Plant spring bulbs in pots

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