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Gracedieu Lass's Journal

Gracedieu Lass's Journal December 2010

Last Post 2579 days 6 hours ago

Jane Powers - new gardening book

31 December 2010 19:29:40
The Living Garden: A Place That Works with Nature  by Jane Powers

The Living Garden: A Place That Works with Nature by Jane Powers

Jane Powers, gardening correspondent with the Irish Times, will have her  book, "The Living Garden: A Place That Works with Nature" published in April next. I received some sample pages today, introduction, some of the first chapter and some of the final chapter and it all seems very promising. My impression is that this will be a very readable book - Jane has a very relaxed and unassuming writing style which makes for very easy reading but she makes very simply stated yet fundamentally important statements about how we garden. 

The table of contents reads as follows:


Gardens for the Planet

Circles and Cycles


Planning Your Garden


Creatures: The Garden Population


Helping Nature Garden

Gardener's Gold: Home-Made Compost 

The Garden Year




The book is being published by Frances Lincoln and I have booked my copy. It is good to support an Irish author, especially one who writes so well and has always supported and promoted Irish gardening ventures.  


Peter Gatehouse - snowdrop open

30 December 2010 10:23:58
Galanthus elwesii 'Peter Gatehouse'

Galanthus elwesii 'Peter Gatehouse'

A few weeks ago I posted photograph of the first snowdrop in the garden. Immediately following that we had the cold weather so this poor flower was frozen at the stage it was and the flower has only opened since the thaw arrived over last weekend.

It is named Galanthus 'Peter Gatehouse'. There are a few other snowdrops up in the garden but the flowers are not opening as yet.


Irish Times Christmas Gardening Quiz

29 December 2010 17:15:37

"The Gardens of Madeira" by Gerald Luckhurst

15 December 2010 22:03:26
'The Gardens of Madeira' by Gerald  Luckhurst

'The Gardens of Madeira' by Gerald Luckhurst

Timing is everything and unfortunate timing is disappointing. Gerald Luckhurst’s book, The Gardens of Madeira, was published shortly after I returned from a holiday in Madeira and I believe I would have enjoyed my visit so much more if the book had been to hand. Greald Luckhurst is a landscape architect who has built many gardens on Madeira as well as leading specialist garden tours there. I visited some of the twenty nine gardens described in the book and can attest to the accuracy of his accounts and that I would have enjoyed the visits even more if this book had been to hand. As with Helena Attlee above, he has had the great benefit of knowing the garden owners and of speaking to them about the history and development of their gardens. His knowledge of the social and horticultural history of Madeira means that this book goes far beyond simply a garden guide and gives the reader an excellent insight into Madeira in general. [The Gardens of Madeira, Gerald Luckhurst, Frances Lincoln, London, 2010, HB, 176pp, £30, ISBN: 978-0-7112-3032-3]

"Italy's Private Gardens - An Inside View"

15 December 2010 22:01:47
'Italy's Private Gardens - An Inside View'

'Italy's Private Gardens - An Inside View'

Finally, two wonderfully beautiful and fabulously informative guide books. First, there is Italy’s Private Gardens – An Inside View by Helena Attlee which describes a selection of beautiful gardens from around Italy, excellently photographed by her husband, Alex Ramsay. Helena Attlee has been visiting and writing about Italian gardens for twenty years and, of latter years, leading guided tours. It was while bringing tourists to various gardens that a simple truth struck the author: people enjoy gardens much more when they meet the gardener and this is what she has brought to this book. With each garden described, there is also a conversation with the gardener so that the reader gains that all so important insight into the history and development of each garden. Needless to say, the gardens are wonderful - all Italian gardens seem to be beautiful - and are a selection from across the length and breadth of the country. Although the title describes them as “private”, most are open to the public and this book would certainly entice you to seek them out. This was a simple idea, to have the garden owners contribute so significantly to the account of each garden, and it has made a wonderful book. [Italy’s Private Gardens – An Inside View, Helena Attlee, Frances Lincoln, London, 2010, HB, 208pp, £35, ISBN: 978-0-7112-2910-5]

"Weeds" by Richard Mabey

15 December 2010 21:59:53
'Weeds' by Richard Mabey

'Weeds' by Richard Mabey

Weeds are the bane of the gardener’s life, the constant scourge which mars our enjoyment and the most persistent call on our labour to keep our gardens as we would wish them to be. These same weeds can be viewed as beautiful when growing along a country lane or in open countryside. Weeds and human activity are inextricably linked; they thrive where we want them least yet have been our first foods and our first medicines. In Weeds, Richard Mabey traces the cultural history of weeds and explores the paradox of these indomitable, opportunistic plants. To do this he draws on the insights of botanists, gardeners, artists, poets and his own life experience and interest. This is a rambling book. If it were a weed, it would be bindweed winding its way here, there and everywhere, all connected and sparkling with beauty. It might make you see the weeds in your garden in a different light but, then again, it might not; however, it will be an interesting read.   [Weeds, Richard Mabey, Profile Book, London, 2010, HB, 324pp, £15.99, ISBN: 978 1 84668 076 2]

"Thoughtful Gardening" by Robin Lane Fox

15 December 2010 21:57:57
'Thoughtful Gardening' by Robin Lane Fox

'Thoughtful Gardening' by Robin Lane Fox

For forty years Robin Lane Fox contributed a weekly column on gardening to the Financial Times and, in Thoughtful Gardening, presents us with a selection of these articles, edited and augmented with some new material to bring us on a journey through the twelve months of the year. The author was Garden Master of New College, Oxford, as well as having his own garden in the Cotswolds and this practical experience informs and inspires the contents and tone of the book. He is an opinionated man and enjoys expressing his opinions strongly on a range of topics, whether it is fashion in gardening and plants, the use of weed killer or artificial fertilizers, our attitudes to rabbits and badgers or his opinions on other gardens and gardeners. Throughout, we are urged to give some thought to how we garden and many of the commonly held beliefs and practices are prodded, poked and questioned. It all makes for amusing reading. [Thoughtful Gardening, Robin Lane Fox, Particular Books, London, 2010, HB, 356pp, £25, ISBN: 978-1-846-14289-5]

"The Curious Gardener" by Anna Pavord

15 December 2010 21:55:56
'The Curious Gardener' by Anna Pavord

'The Curious Gardener' by Anna Pavord

Anna Pavord is one of our the top garden writers, author of The Tulip and The Naming of Names, and has also been the gardening correspondent of The Independent since 1986. In The Curious Gardener we are presented with a selection of her contributions to that newspaper arranged into twelve chapters, one for each month of the year. They present her comments and advice on various aspects of gardening, notes on visits to some well-known gardens and general reflection of  joys, nuisances, successes and failures. The style is leisurely and pleasant, easy reading and very enjoyable. When the weather doesn’t allow us to garden, it is good to have an enjoyable book to read and this The Curious Gardener certainly fills that need. Given the layout of the book, it is one that can be dipped into whenever one has a few minutes. Very enjoyable! [The Curious Gardener, Anna Pavord, Bloomsbury, London, 2010, HB, 329pp, £20, ISBN: 9781408808887]

"Trees" by Hugh Johnson

15 December 2010 21:52:12
'Trees' by Hugh Johnson

'Trees' by Hugh Johnson

It can be difficult to create a satisfying and coherent garden design while accommodating an extensive plant collection. It is only those with great flair and ingenuity who succeed. Organising and writing a book which is essentially a list of plants presents a similar challenge and when an author manages to take such a plant list and write it into an informative, entertaining, engrossing and compelling read, then we can only admire his skill and immerse ourselves in the enjoyment of the book. “Trees” by Hugh Johnson is such a book.

Hugh Johnson has taken a comprehensive list of the world’s trees, organised them into their families and, distilling his own great personal experience, has written a gem of a book which informs, entertains and enthuses the reader from start to finish. There is a substantial introductory and concluding section which cover the important practical aspects of tree growing: the structure and life cycle of trees, how trees are named, trees and the weather, the use of trees in gardens and landscape design and tree planting and care.  The main section of the book is an extraordinary work of reference of all the important garden and forest trees of the temperate world, written in the words of a man in love with his subject. More than 600 species are described, illustrated with excellent photographs and 1,000 drawings and all bound with the text of a master writer. An absolutely outstanding book! [Trees, Hugh Johnson, Octopus Publishing Group, London, 2010, HB, 400pp, £30, ISBN: 978 1 84533 0552]

Monty Don to present Gardener's World next season.

08 December 2010 13:49:39

Monte Palace Tropical Gardens Madeira

05 December 2010 10:31:25


Last evening I put up a photo album of a visit to Monte Palace Tropical Gardens in Madeira. 

Jacinta's posting of her clivia reminded me of how it was used as an edging planting under lines of tree ferns. At the time of our visit we were at the finish of the agapanthus flowering and the beginning of the clivias and, so, didn't get the best benefit of either.

Like Margaret, it is nice to look at photographs of warmer and brighter times when we are presently suffering in the cold and snow.


One for Jacinta

03 December 2010 12:03:18



You obviously stayed at home today - I have noticed your posts during the  morning. Here, there is a slight, very, very slight hint of a thaw as the snow turned to sleet and then to rain but there has not been a lot of it really. We have 4 - 6 inches of snow around the garden and cannot get out in the car as we are on a very quiet road with few people, it also does not get sunshine and will not be gritted so we have a long wait to travel again.

In the meantime, I went out for a while with the camera this morning with this little robin following me around all the time. He makes a brighter photograph than all the snow.



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