Friday, 22 June 2012

The Ivington Diaries, By Monty Don - A Review

I've just finished reading Monty Don's The Ivington Diaries, and what a joy it was. It has been a long time since I've read a book that I've enjoyed so much that I've actually had to force myself to put it down to avoid finishing it too quickly.

The book is made up of excerpts from Monty's garden diary covering a period from the mid 90's through to the mid 00's (I will not call it the noughties, it sounds ridiculous) and describes the process of building and evolving his current garden. It covers planting, hedging, hard landscaping, successes and failures, and leaves you feeling like you've been given an intimate insight into an obviously much loved personal space. There are interesting reflections on the uses of different areas of a garden that apply to any family outdoor space that make it clear that this is a garden to be used and enjoyed, not just viewed from afar. It is all beautifully written in the style that anyone who has read much of the author's work will be familiar with - articulate, yet not intimidating, and with a sense that he is speaking directly to you.

As other reviews (most of those I have read have been on Amazon) of this book have noted, this is not a gardening manual. It is a book that those with an interest in the subject can sit back and relax with. By all means take hints from it on what should be covered at different times of year, and make notes of the successes and frankly admitted failures, but if you're looking for step by step instruction, look elsewhere - I'm told that The Complete Gardener is a good source for such things, although I'm yet to read that one myself.

As you can probably tell from the above gushings, I loved this book and I'm very much looking forward to reading some of his other work.