The Generous Gardener – Private Paradises Shared by Caroline Donald
Caroline Donald is the gardening editor of The Sunday Times, a position which has opened the gates of many gardens to her, gates which might not otherwise be opened and in this book she recounts her visits, her interactions with her hosts and gives us that that peep over the wall, that we all enjoy, into more than forty private gardens, mainly British but some abroad.
Covering over forty gardens in a small format book has obvious constraints and the individual entries are short – but sweet! There are some well-known gardening names: Penelope Hobhouse, Roy Lancaster, Bob Flowerdew, Julian and Isabel Bannerman, Fergus Garrett, Dan Pearson and Luciano Giubbilei, for example, but also a list of interesting people who are also keen and enthusiastic gardeners: Jilly Cooper, Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton, Henry Cecil and Kelly Brook among them.
Though we are introduced to a diverse selection of people, with an equally diverse range of gardens, there are some common threads running through the author’s experiences and those whom she visited. There was ever a generous welcome for her and, though the personalities of the book are diverse, they all shared a deep love and enthusiasm for gardening and these qualities infuse the text making it a very pleasant and enjoyable read.
The individual entries feature the people as much as their gardens which gives a good balance of interest to the reader. An ideal present for those who cannot decide what to give the gardener in their life!
[The Generous Gardener – Private Paradises Shared, Caroline Donald, Pimpernel Press, 2018, Hardback, 208 pages, £30, ISBN: 978-1-910258-97-2]