High­lights from ten years of the gar­den writer’s col­umn for the Ob­server, fo­cus­ing on his gar­dens in Lon­don and Som­er­set.

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Japanese-Style Garden -

Re­viewer Stephanie Don­ald­son is a gar­den writer. Dan Pear­son’s lat­est book is a month-by-month se­lec­tion of ten years of his highly read­able Ob­server col­umns. City and coun­try are in­ter­wo­ven as he writes about his former Lon­don gar­den and his new home in Som­er­set, where he is trans­form­ing a 20-acre small hold­ing into a gar­den that is a dis­til­la­tion of all that he has loved about plants and gar­dens from child­hood, com­bined with what he has learned over the in­ter­ven­ing years. In­ter­spersed are oc­ca­sional col­umns about his city al­lot­ment, the gar­den of the stu­dio from where he runs his de­sign practice, and a few en­tic­ing glimpses into the pri­vate do­mains of his in­ter­na­tional clients.

Read­ing this book is like meet­ing up with old friends. Some col­umns are sim­ply en­joy­able com­pany, oth­ers have in­spired my own plant­ing, (his de­scrip­tion of fall­ing for a vi­o­lets­cented, dou­ble, white Banksian rose in Rome set me off on a quest to buy my own) while there are those that re­mind me of things I’ve been mean­ing to try out in my own gar­den. The book is al­ready bristling with page mark­ers.

Pear­son’s writ­ing al­ways feels per­sonal; the story of his gar­den­ing child­hood is fa­mil­iar, but is en­dur­ingly en­gag­ing and peo­pled with a won­der­ful cast of char­ac­ters. But this is not sim­ply an ex­er­cise in nostal­gia, his ob­ser­va­tions are crammed with use­ful ad­vice and great plant rec­om­men­da­tions for ev­ery size of gar­den. For ex­am­ple, us­ing a black mul­berry in a small gar­den to pro­vide a scaled down tree with the char­ac­ter of an oak.

There is a cer­tain amount of rep­e­ti­tion with com­mon themes re­cur­ring, but this isn’t a book to be read from cover to cover. Rather it is one to pick up and come back to later, hav­ing di­gested a few juicy morsels. Clare Melin­sky’s sim­ple graphic il­lus­tra­tions cap­ture key plants through the year.

NATURALN SE­LEC­TION byb Dan Pear­son Il lus­trated by Clare Melin­sky GuardianG Faber, £20 IS SBN 978-1783351176

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