As the thunder cracks and the rain is lashing at the windows, I thought I’d mention a few books that I like to curl up with on such an inhospitable afternoon.
Anna Pavord’s ‘Plant Partners’ is close to what I regard as plant porn. Sumptuous photographs make you want to get planting and experimenting instantly and I often reach for this book when seeking inspiration for plant combinations as I plan specific areas of a border for a specific season in the year. Mostly listing perennials, bulbs and annuals with a nod to shrubs and ferns too, I’m still grateful to the friend who bought this gorgeous, informative book for me years (note coffee stains) ago.
Another gift from a friend when I started growing crops on my first allotment, Joy Larkcom is the queen of vegetables. None of the glossy images of the former book, but a wealth of down to earth (no pun intended) knowledge shared, about basics of soil, sowing, pest and diseases and cropping at the front of the book, followed by a very comprehensive alphabetical list of vegetables to grow, supplying information on best soil, when and how to sow, pests and diseases, harvesting times and a range of cultivars for each crop. I wouldn’t want to grow vegetables without it.
This catalogue of perennials, including Irises, ferns and grasses from the Suffolk nursery has been updated a number of times over the last few years and a new version is out in February which you can order now. One of the things I like about this catalogue/book, apart from just being a good read, is that all perennials are listed in the sun loving or shade loving sections, making life a lot easier when searching for plants for different areas of the garden. Descriptions by Michael Loftus are detailed, witty, full of historical references and very descriptive. Woottens’ website has good images too. I find this catalogue very useful for finding the right variety of a plant for the right place in your garden.
Another veg growing book and a very welcome recent addition to my collection. Written by Mark Diacono from the River Cottage garden collection, this is a very straightforward book, listing many vegetables alphabetically too, but with gorgeous images for most crops and a heading for each vegetable listing plant group, when to sow and plant out and when to harvest. Very easy to follow and therefore inspirational, this book also includes somes recipes at the back too.
Finally, another inspirational book that can keep me awake half of the night. Although sadly no longer with us, Christopher Lloyd’s book still is able to convey his passion for gardening and his understanding of how to combine plants to create a stunning garden all year round. Photographs taken from his garden at Great Dixter (still very much alive and continuing to flourish under the guidance of Fergus Garrett) joyfully illustrate his choices of plants that give vibrant colours and playful textures throughout the seasons. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, reach for this book.