The Generous Gardener

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.

The Generous Gardeners (1)

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.

The Generous Gardeners (2)
Henry Cecil, “one of the greatest horse trainers British racing has ever seen”, who gardens at Newmarket
The Generous Gardeners (3)
David & Bella Gordon, Pays de la Loire, who through their nursery interaction with clients hope to introduce the French to a more laissez-faire approach to their planting and gardening.
The Generous Gardeners (4)
A view in the garden of Janet Wheatcroft in Dumfries & Galloway showing the influence of Dherpa Dawa who joined her after a meeting in Nepal.

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 Generous Gardeners (5)
A creation by Julian and Isabel Bannerman in the garden of Lord Cholmondeley in Norfolk.
The Generous Gardeners (6)
The Chiral Terrace which explores the right and left-handed nature of molecules in the garden of Christine Facer in Glucestershire.

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]

The Generous Gardeners (9)
Neil Armstrong, a Penzance GP, on the steps leading up to Tewlwolow Kernow, one of two skyspaces designed by James Turrell at Tremenheers, a fabulously ambitious new garden in Cornwall
The Generous Gardeners (8)
Jilly Cooper, author of the many popular “bonkbusters” in her garden in Gloucestershire. Her front door boasts two signs: “Go Away” and “Gone to the Pub” yet the welcome is open and warm and she has two entries in the book.



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