The Midsummer Garden is an evocative, lyrical tale of the search for identity by two unforgettable women, separated by history. It's a journey of passion through food, the natural world - and love - towards personal fulfilment. Manning displays her knowledge of gardening, ancient herbs and food as the two story lines intersect and move towards their powerful conclusion. At times I felt I could almost smell the herbs and taste the food as I turned the pages. A fictional Eat Pray Love that all lovers of food and wine will devour.
Sally Hepworth, author of the bestselling The Mother's Promise, The Secrets of Midwives and The Things We Keep
Garden Inspiration ...
One of the perks of co-owning a wine business, is that every now and again I get to visit some of the greatest wine estates. While Alex busies himself with the tasting in the cellars, or roaming the vineyards and feeling the soil - I find myself wandering some of the gardens. And Oh My, what fine gardens they are ...
Nurseries can prove to be the perfect inspiration. Enter Lambley Nursery, crafted from from a dusty paddock in central Victoria. This is former wool-growing country, but there's not a merino in sight around here.
It all started with the glimpse of a turret, you see. I was on a walk near Chalus, France, headphones in listening to my audiobook), striding along narrow roads that weaved through lurid green fields and acres of chestnuts forests, when over the barbed-wire fence I spotted this old castle.
I recently went to Shanghai for some research for my next book. Pudong is the shiny new financial district built opposite the Bund, home to the Pearl Tower. It's built on reclaimed swamp and the buildings each try to be taller than the other. It's the visual representation of the China boom.
But, among all these buildings, shopping malls and overpasses there are the most beautiful gardens. Pristine, tranquil and almost unused (which is unusual in China where public spaces are used and loved) by all the people scurrying like worker ants between the buildings.
If you love gardens and all things botanical/horticultural, then London's Chelsea Flower show is worth the visit, just once! I got lucky when I was in London doing a story on Heston Blumenthal's restaurant, Dinner, at the phenomenal Mandarin Oriental. I still pinch myself when I think about this week. Look at the pics and you'll see why. Dreaming of going again ...
Built in 1864, Villa Parma is tucked to the side of the luxurious Peppers Resort in Daylesford, about an hour from the airport in Melbourne. We've booked the place out a couple of times with friends and colleagues, as it is a fun way to have a feast with friends.