Thenford: The Creation of an English Garden
Anne and Michael Heseltine (Head of Zeus, £40)
MICHAEL HESELTINE reckons that the vast english garden that he and his wife, anne, have made at Thenford since 1977 is a better legacy than any of his political achievements. This fascinating book tells how they designed it, how they tackled the problems they encountered and why some features went wrong. It describes the sequence of improvements, the constant revisions, the new lakes and fountains and the creation of an amazingly complicated and extensive series of waterworks called the rill. It just shows what can be achieved with energy, enthusiasm, wealth and taste.
Their advisers were among the best: Quinlan Terry built the Baroque summer house and Lanning roper designed the rose garden. The list of friends who have advised and helped them along the way reads like a Who’s Who of modern gardening: harold hillier, roy Lancaster, richard Carew Pole, Charlie Lansdowne, John ropner, Xa Tollemache and many others.
What comes through clearly is how well the heseltines work together as a team. Lady heseltine has an eye for the details of design and enjoys acquiring sculptures and ornaments for the garden—they are tremendous frequenters of French brocante dealers. It was she who rescued a huge bust of Lenin from a KGB building in Latvia.
Lord heseltine is a hands-on gardener, a true plantsman, a passionate collector of trees and shrubs—in love not just with the plants in his garden, but with the sheer variety of the whole plant kingdom. he has amassed more than 300 different magnolias, 342 snowdrops, 370 oaks, more than 350 cotoneasters and all known Aesculus species and cultivars. although a rich man with 10 gardeners, he displays a remarkable mastery of the techniques of garden-making, plant-raising and maintenance.
hundreds of photographs show how the main features were created. They also display the scale and variety of the design and plantings. all is underscored by a cheerful belief that problems can be overcome, even if the solutions are very expensive.
There are a few small errors— the rose on page 66 is not Compassion; ‘auricular’ and ‘self-sewn’ appear (a writer is only as good as his editor). But what a garden—and what a book! Charles Quest-ritson