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