Town & Country (UK)
OUT & ABOUT COUNTRY
Three illuminating books offer helpful horticultural advice in spades
A Devonian painter catches the light, canny candlemakers bewitch our senses, Hollywood stars take a tour of the Lakes and a handy field guide makes foragers of us all
Across Britain, velvety tulips, frilly alliums and perfumed muscari are springing forth, and with them a fresh crop of new gardening books. Taste the colours in the pages of the the plantsman Arthur Parkinson’s The Flower Yard, in which his bantams sashay around the ‘egg yolk orange’, ‘blush apricot’, ‘ruby claret’ and ‘lemon curd yellow’ blooms. A rising star in horticulture, Parkinson shares his secrets on how to turn the drabbest five-metre strip of gravel into a luscious landscape, in which metal buckets are ‘living vases’, clusters of pots are fragrant ‘archipelagos’ and his favourite petals likened to Vivienne Westwood dresses.
Elsewhere, the actress Olivia Colman introduces The Little Grower’s Cookbook with a reflection on her childhood experiences foraging in East Anglia. ‘I remember that we used to pick samphire, cook it on a camping stove and dip it in butter,’ she recalls. Written by Ghillie James and Julia Parker, and aimed at encouraging children to pick up a trowel, this charming book will teach them how to make a mini greenhouse for tomatoes using old strawberry punnets and how to concoct their own rose-water.
Cultivating green fingers in the younger generation is a passion shared by Lucille Savin, who nurtures the quads, lawns, subtropical borders and wildflower meadow at Merton College, Oxford. Savin is one of the 16 head gardeners profiled in a new volume devoted to digging up the secrets of the nation’s most intriguing plots. charlotte brook ‘The Little Grower’s Cookbook’ by Ghillie James and Julia Parker (£20, Lettuce) is published on 4 March. ‘The Flower Yard’ (£22, Octopus) is published on 22 March. ‘Head Gardeners’ (£20, Pimpernel) is published on 4 March.