Gar­den­ing

Country Life Every Week - - Books -

The Pot­tery Gar­dener Arthur Parkinson (The His­tory Press, £25)

FOR ARTHUR Parkinson, the youthful gar­dener of the walled gar­den at the cen­tre of the Emma Bridge­wa­ter ceram­ics fac­tory in Stoke-on-trent, gar­dens should be ‘jazzedup rain­forests’.

the gar­den he over­sees, over­spilling raised beds and con­tain­ers on the brick, cob­ble and con­crete of the old fac­tory yard, is in­deed a jazzy oa­sis, a gor­geous tes­sel­la­tion of jewel colours in the man­ner of the late Christo­pher Lloyd’s ‘hot’ gar­den­ing and the Perch Hill gar­den of Mr Parkinson’s gar­den­ing hero­ine, Sarah Raven.

‘the white or pas­tel shades of nurs­ery or care home walls’ have no quar­ter here. in­stead, all is ro­bustly coloured, bee-friendly, ex­u­ber­ant and pa­trolled by the chick­ens that, along­side hor­ti­cul­ture, are Mr Parkinson’s de­light.

A num­ber of re­mark­able en­coun­ters have shaped Mr Parkinson’s pas­sion for flow­ers and poul­try. He first wrote to the Duchess of Devon­shire af­ter a child­hood visit to Chatsworth, prompted by his en­thu­si­asm for the chick­ens that roamed the vis­i­tor car park; their cor­re­spon­dence lasted a decade un­til the duchess’s death.

Matthew Rice, Sarah Raven and, of course, Emma Bridge­wa­ter have all in­spired and guided him. He ac­knowl­edges his in­debt­ed­ness to Vic­to­ria Roberts’s DVD for be­gin­ners, Poul­try at Home. Ul­ti­mately, his vi­sion is his own—and a very be­guil­ing one in this charm­ing and beau­ti­ful book. Matthew Den­ni­son

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