448 pages, no illustrations
The Telegraph has long enjoyed the closest association with gardeners, ever since Vita Sackville-West first began writing a column for the paper between the wars, while creating her legendary White Garden at Sissinghurst. Indeed, as the newspaper of choice for the counties and the shires, rather than the metropolis, it has always revelled in the glory and variety of Britain's horticultural heritage, whether celebrating the most prized formal gardens, like Great Dixter, or offering sage advice on pruning penstemon from the pages of the Weekend section.
For gardening spans a vast spectrum. Variously a hobby, an art form and even, on occasion, a cause of social unrest, it encompasses the annual spectacle of the Chelsea Flower Show, Lancelot 'Capability' Brown's sublime perfection of the English landscape, and, in modern times, the 'guerilla gardeners' sowing 'cosmpolitan meadows' in the bleakest wastes of Britain's inner cities. And while the Telegraph magazine might publish a long feature on the restoration of, say, Hidcote Manor, the news pages bristle with reports on neighbourly lawsuits over towering leylandii or overhanging fig trees.
Whatever form it takes – Zen minimalism, or a breeding ground for prize-winning marrows – few things could be more central to the world of the Telegraph reader than the garden, which is why the paper has always attracted the best writers on the subject.
From the experts of today, such as Helen Yemm, Bunny Guinness and Monty Don, through great designers of yesteryear, like Rosemary Verey and Gertrude Jekyll, to the more esoteric musings of Germaine Greer and W.F. Deedes, all of them are collected in this compendious and endlessly fascinating anthology, compiled by eminent green-fingered scribe Tim Richardson.
As varied and colourful as a traditional herbaceous border at the height of summer, Of Rhubarb and Roses: The Telegraph Book of the Garden is the perfect book for an afternoon's reading in a deckchair, as the shadows lengthen across that newly mown lawn.
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Tim Richardson is a writer who specializes in garden and landscape design and history. He has been gardens editor at Country Life, and landscape editor at Wallpaper* magazine, and was founding editor of both the award-winning gardens magazine New Eden and Country Life Gardens. He now contributes mostly to the Daily Telegraph, House and Garden, Gardens Illustrated and Country Life. He is also the author of The Garden Book, Vanguard Landscapes Gardens of Martha Schwartz, English Gardens of the 20th Century and Arcadian Friends: The Makers of the English Landscape Garden, and he is the editor of Vista: The Culture and Politics of Gardens.