I tend to agree with the great Vita Sackville-West. People who love the process of gardening are some of the most generous people I know. Gardeners will happily tell you where they got a plant, how to cultivate it and then fill your arms with flowers and cuttings as you leave. There's a simple joy in planning a colour scheme, a new garden bed and growing something from seed. I feel deep satisfaction seeing my garden unfold and change each year. Gardening teaches to you notice tiny details such as the blue of an iris popping against the yellow of a spring daffodil, or the perfect maroon hellebore sparkling with dew on a freezing winter's morning.
I was given Vita Sackville-West's Sissinghurst: The Creation of a Garden by a dear friend for my birthday. Such a thoughtful gift for someone who adores gardening and anything remotely horticultural. This book is a biography of Sissinghurst garden, how it was designed, planted out, maintained and modernised combined with an examination of Vita Sackville-West's gardening writing in the Observer and Country Life from 1946-1957.
Sarah Raven is an enthusiastic gardener who brings a contemporary eye and sensible commentary to Sissinghurst, weaving Vita Sackville-West's writing with an examination of design plans, archival material and 150 photographs. It's fascinating, and at times very funny, reading.
One day I hope to get to Sissinghurst in the UK, but in the meantime I shall content myself to dip in and out of this book full of commentary on design, colour, texture and philosophy.
Review: The Guardian, UK
Review: The Independent, UK
Visitor information: Sissinghurst Castle
Sarah Raven's incredible website ... a must-visit for keen gardeners!